I live by the following mantra: there are good days, and there are great days.
Sure, not every day is good per se. There are the times of stress, frustration, and general malaise, but I always strive to make the not-so-good days, well . . . better. Such a mantra ensures that you don’t take life too seriously—appreciating the good all around us.
But great days—those are the ticket, my friend.
Great days tend to occur most naturally. I find when I try to line up everything perfectly, things tend to unravel a bit—or my expectations supersede my reality. That said, there is one activity that makes a good day great, no matter the outcome. Fishing.
During my time at the University of Georgia, I laughingly remember my fraternity brother Greg White wearing a trucker hat with the following words written in Spanish: Un mal día de pesca es mejor que un buen día en la escuela. Since I’m a Francophile, I needed some help translating: “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at school.” I’m pretty sure he was on to something,
Though my real life demands make such fishing outings a rare occurrence (something I’m working on), I’m probably at my happiest when out on a skiff, surrounded by cold beers and friends, while reeling in a big ol’ redfish for supper.
Reds (the local nomenclature) are always known for being great fighters, making them a favorite catch for sports fisherman. They are also one of the mildest, most versatile, and tastiest catches for the kitchen. Though you can find reds in many of our Southern waters, I find that red and sport fishing don’t get any better than in the great state of Louisiana.
One doesn’t have to travel very far outside of my favorite city of New Orleans to land a few of these characters. Within the small town of Delacroix, located in Saint Bernard Parish, you’ll find Captain Jack and his team at the Sweetwater Marina. Jack will not only put you on some big reds, but he’s also likely to bust your tail throughout the day—he nicknamed me “Pretty-boy”—not as bad as the other guy in the boat who got “Booger.” Regardless, Jack knows his stuff, which always leaves us with plenty of fish to yield in this delicious recipe.
Although I’m always partial to a good fish fry, I also realize that dunking chunks of freshly-caught redfish in peanut oil isn’t always ideal for my waistline. Instead, I satisfy that same craving for this magical fish by preparing it quite simply in the oven. Broiling the fish allows you to impart just a bit of savory flavor while still allowing the mild, tender fish to remain prominent. I like to create a nice balance and temperature contrast by topping the fish with a chilled crab salad—which adds in a bit more heft, impressive presentation, and of course, big flavor. For those of you who don’t have redfish on hand, feel free to substitute any flakey white fish such as grouper, flounder, or sea bass. Pairs well with an Abita amber ale—served on the dock, just as the sun sets on the bayou—Creedance Clearwater Revival for soundtrack too.
Creole Redfish + Crab Salad
1 lb. fresh jumbo lump crabmeat
½ cup finely diced celery
½ cup finely diced red bell pepper
½ cup finely diced red onion
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup unsalted butter
4 (8-oz.) redfish fillets
1 tsp. Creole seasoning
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
1. Prepare Crab Salad: Pick crabmeat, removing any bits of shell. Stir
together crab and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl until blended,
being careful not to break apart crab. Cover and chill until ready to
serve. Salad can be prepared up to 1 day in advance; refrigerate in an
2. Prepare Redfish: Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high
heat. Sprinkle both sides of fish fillets with Creole seasoning. Cook
fish in hot skillet 3-4 minutes on each side or until browned and fish
flakes easily with a fork. Sprinkle with parsley.
3. Place fish fillets on individual plates, and top each with chilled crab
salad. Serve immediately.
See More Matt Moore Redfishing Photos Here