10.15.2015

...And Thanks for all the Fish!

     Our beloved neighbors and good friends, Jude and Sonia
 own a camp down in the gulf marshes of South Louisiana, where they often go to relax and enjoy the wonderful coastal waters of our beautiful state.  The fishing there is among the best in the country. More often than not, they catch their limit of redfish, as shown here in the photos. These huge fish are no match for this li'l Cajun gal, Sonia! She hauls in monster-sized fish, right alongside the guys.
We've been blest on several occasions to be the recipient of some of their prized catches. Last month, they brought us an ice chest filled with three of these massive redfish, and the most beautiful flounder...we should have taken photos because they were all just that gorgeous...not to mention DELICIOUS!
Another fishing trip later and "here come da judge" with another two big beauties! (Jude is a judge by the way.) Can  you imagine? Words can't describe our appreciation for having such wonderful neighbors such as these.                                       
Thanking Jude, Sonia, and the Lord, we set about cleaning them, freezing some, and cooking some. None of it went to waste. Once everything was taken off the fish, we put the skin, bones, head...everything into a huge pot and boiled it, then discarded the bones (into the compost pile, which then will contribute to our gardening efforts). This "dirty broth" was then used to make dogfood, so even our "boys" benefited from the generous gift.
  What follows is another of the of the many ways we "honored" our gift fish with a hearty fish stew.  First, I cubed the succulent redfish into bite-sized pieces. By seasoning the fish in advance, it draws out excess moisture, which helps the fish to hold together while it cooks and keeps it from flaking apart.
Next, I added a li'l thick bacon cut into small pieces to grease the ol' black iron pot.
Once it's nice and browned, I added a couple of pounds of chopped yellow onion.  A trick I use when browning onions, is to season them with our own blend of Cajun seasoning.  The salt in the seasoning helps draw the water from the onions, which helps them brown quicker.
If the onions threaten to scorch as they slowly brown, I occasionally deglaze the pot with gluten free beer, wine, or water.  In this case, wine.
Once the onions are browned down to the point of caramelization, in goes an assortment of chopped bell peppers
and green onions from our garden.  
    Developing Cajun dishes is a slow process; it takes a little time, a little patience and a lot of love. After it finally "cooks down", we carefully stirred in a bit of cornstarch and water to thicken the gravy, then we added the seasoned cubes of redfish.
  When the fish was cooked, the dish was finished.  We plated a double serving over rice, with a side of green beans from our garden, and carried it across the street to Jude and Sonia, completing the cycle of the gift fish.
Thank God for good neighbors and great friends who occasionally catch too many fish. Now, I ask you: where else could we ever had come across seafood any fresher than caught-the-same-day fish? We couldn't have, unless we "judged the situation for ourselves". 
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