Blackened Grouper with Mango Salsa

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I just discovered an amazing little gem in my neighborhood– a seafood market. I’ve been searching for one since I moved to DC two years ago and I finally found it. I’m very particular about purchasing things from the sea… I rarely stray from Whole Foods and the only frozen seafood I will buy is shrimp. It was my friend’s birthday and I was set on making him Mahi. Believe it or not, Mahi is impossible to find up North and when you do it’s usually overpriced and not very fresh. Old Mahi is not ok, especially for someone like me who grew up in Florida. I talked to the owner of the market and explained to him what I wanted to prepare that night. This man looked like and knew as much about seafood as Captain Gordon himself. He said the best thing in his case that day was Grouper. Sold. I coated the filets in blackening seasoning and pan-seared in a bit of olive oil on high heat. I made a fresh, simple mango salsa for the topping and served with a side of asparagus and honey- ginger spaghetti squash (recipe below). The result was perfection and I was very proud of myself. Then, out of nowhere, the meal was ruined by an embarrassing mishap. Mid-sentence, mid-meal I heard wood start to crackle. My chair teetered from left to right then literally snapped under me, sending me straight to the ground. I think I said something like “Wh—Wh—Whoooaa” before I plunged. Luckily I didn’t get hurt…the only thing I lost was my dignity. Let’s just say it was an unforgettable meal. Oh, and don’t buy furniture on Craigslist.

Ingredients

Servings :2
• 1 lb Grouper, filleted and cut into 2 servings ($14.00)
• 2 tbs blackening seasoning ($.20)
• 1 tbs olive oil ($.20)
• ½ mango, diced finely ($.50)
• 1 tbs red onion, diced finely ($.15)
• 1 tbs cilantro, chopped ($.05)
• 1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped ($.30)
• 1 tbs lime juice ($.10)

Total: $15.50

Instructions

Rinse fish and pat dry with paper towels. Put seasoning on plate and dredge both sides of fish (lightly) in seasoning, shake off excess. Bring skillet to medium-high heat and once hot, add fish. Let it cook 4 minutes, and shake the pan back and forth a few times so the fish doesn’t stick. Flip the fish, cover and cook another 5 minutes on medium-high heat. While fish is cooking, make the salsa. Chop mango, red onion, cilantro, tomato and lime juice and combine. I microwave mine for about 30 seconds. Serve on top of cooked fish.

Honey-Ginger Spaghetti Squash:

Ingredients
• 1 large spaghetti squash ($3.00)
• 3 tbs butter ($.10)
• 1 tbs freshly grated ginger ($.25)
• 1 tsp chicken boullion cube/ paste ($.05)
• ½ cup honey ($1.00)
• ¼ cup brown sugar, packed ($.25)
• 1 cup water
• 1 tbs cornstarch ($.05)

Total: $4.70

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Poke holes in spaghetti squash with a knife. Cook in microwave-safe dish in microwave for 10 minutes. Remove squash (be careful- it’s hot!) and cut in half. Bake in oven on roasting pan with tin foil, cut side down, for 10 minutes. Remove squash from oven and carefully remove all seeds. Using a fork, remove all the “pulp” from the squash and place in bowl. It will look like angel hair pasta. Mix in 2 tbs of butter and set aside.
For the sauce:
Do this while the squash is cooking. Saute 1 tbs butter and fresh ginger for 1 minute. Add chicken boullion cube and saute another minute. Add honey and brown sugar and cook on medium for 2 minutes. Mix cornstarch and water until dissolved and add to honey/ ginger mixture. Let it cook 5 minutes, while gently stirring and on medium heat.Once the sauce is done, pour desired amount over cooked spaghetti squash.

Pistachio Crusted Salmon

pistachio salmon

Almonds, Walnuts, Peanuts, Cashews. I’m nutty about nuts. The pistachio reigns supreme in my eyes though. It’s the sophisticated nut. It’s also my favorite shade of green. There’s also so many cooking applications for pistachios– eat them right out of the bag, throw them in a salad or even incorporate them in dessert. Unless you have a nut allergy you haven’t lived if you’ve never tried pistachio gelato–it’s heavenly.

Let’s talk about another one of my favorite foods, salmon. I honestly hated it growing up. Ask my mom and she will tell you one of the first things I would say when I arrived home from school was “what’s for dinner.” If her response was salmon, which was often, I would always cringe with disappointment. I don’t know why, but she was respectful of my salmon phobia and would always pick me up a piece of tilapia instead. Spoiled rotten! Years later I came to my senses (I blame my siblings for all my weird food aversions) and decided to expand my seafood horizons. Salmon rocks. And so do pistachios. I was so happy to learn that the combination of the two is perfect matrimony. I hope you agree.

Ingredients

Serves 2

  • 2 salmon fillets ($5.00)
  •  1 tbsp Dijon mustard ($.10)
  •  1tbsp butter, melted ($.05)
  •  2 tsp honey ($.20)
  • 1/8 cup panko breadcrumbs ($.25)
  • 1/8 cup pistachios (shelled) ($.50)
  • 1 tsp fresh cilantro, chopped ($.10)

Total: $6.20

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and place on a  foil-lined greased pan, skin-side down.  Whisk the dijon, butter and honey together and brush on salmon filets.  Combine the bread crumbs, pistachios and cilantro in a food processor until thoroughly blended.  Coat filets with bread crumb/ pistachio mixture.  Bake for 12 minutes until salmon begins to flake. Be careful not to over bake!

Mediterranean Tilapia

tilapia

The first time I went to Greece I had visions of myself eating Greek salad every day, hummus and LOTS of pita bread…oh bowls full of Chobani. Turns out the Greek salad in Greece actually contains no lettuce, hummus isn’t served at every restaurant and Chobani doesn’t exist. After this discovery though I came to really appreciate Mediterranean cuisine– simple flavors, fresh ingredients, and super healthy (except for those gyros stuffed with fries and dripping with tzatzki sauce at 4 am). Below is a photo of me eating one in broad daylight. Attractive, I know.

gyro

I love that you can walk up to a restaurant in the Greek Isles barefoot, covered with sand, without a reservation and sit down to enjoy one of the best seafood dishes you’ve ever had in your life. The flavors are never overcomplicated with butter, lard, oil, pure fat, or whatever they put in bang bang shrimp at Bonefish (drugs?)

Anyway, enough of me rambling about Greece…this isn’t a Greek dish really, but I wanted to get my point across about Mediterranean food in general. This being a PLRC recipe I decided to go for Tilapia because it’s cheap. It’s also mild, tastes good and takes on the flavor of whatever you pair it with. This recipe literally takes 10 minutes or less to make, so if you’re having company don’t start preparing it until they arrive. Oh and treat yourself and serve this with of slice of crusty bread…and wine 😉

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved ($2.00)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes ($.10)
  • 2 tilapia filets (8 ounces) ($4.00)
  • sea salt and ground pepper (free?)
  • 3 cups arugula ($2.50)
  • Splash of dry white wine ($.20)
  • 1 tablespoon butter ($.10)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice ($.05)

Total: $8.95

Instructions

  1. In a medium pan, bring the water to a boil. Add tomatoes and red-pepper flakes; top with fish, and season generously with salt and pepper. Cover, and cook 3 minutes. Add arugula. Cover, and cook another 2 minutes. Transfer tilapia and vegetables to a plate (reserve pan).
  2. Make sauce: Off burner, add butter, lemon juice and a splash of white wine. Swirl until butter has melted. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Serve tilapia over arugula and tomatoes; drizzle with sauce.