I recently got the opportunity to compete in the Healthy Solutions Spice Blends 2015 Blogger Recipe Challenge! There were limited spots and I was happy to be accepted into the challenge. Upon entering, I had to choose a spice blend out of their wide selection, 16 in all, http://www.spiceblends.com . A spice blend that I had never tasted or even smelled! (Ask my hubby or my mom, I am fun to shop with in spice stores. It is a long, enjoyable process…for me!!) I reluctantly chose the Cajun Seafood Blend. http://spiceblends.com/seafood-blends/cajun-seafood.html I say reluctantly for being from Louisiana I have had my fair share of “so-called” Cajun spice blends that are nothing more than mostly cayenne pepper and salt-as if that’s all of what Cajun food is salty and spicy! (O.K. maybe we do like it a little spicy down here!!) On the other hand, I was enticed to try an all natural, no MSG, no salt, and no sugar added Cajun spice blend. (There are not many of those around.) As soon as I received my Cajun Seafood spice blend in the mail, I ripped into the package and immediately smelled my spice of choice…Nice, I thought! I then tasted it and thought, “this spice really is nice”-a nice blend of onion, garlic, paprika, a slight hickory smoke flavor and a nice spice! I then officially accepted the challenge: To create an original recipe using the Healthy Solutions Spice Blend. Here is my recipe entry:
Barbecued Fish with Marinated Spicy Slaw and Cajun Potatoes
For the Fish:
4 fish fillets, 4-5 oz each (firm whitefish; like catfish, tilapia, trout, snapper)
1/3 cup ketchup (no salt added, my choice)
1 Tbsp butter, unsalted
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp Healthy Solutions Cajun Seafood Spice Blend
For the Marinated Spicy Slaw:
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
3 cups Cole slaw mix or shredded cabbage
2 tsp hot sauce (or less depending on spicy preference)
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
½ tsp Healthy Solutions Cajun Seafood Spice Blend
For the Cajun Potatoes:
3 cups new potatoes, skin on; cubed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Healthy Solutions Cajun Seafood Spice Blend
1/4 cup green onions, diced (optional)
For the Fish: In a saucepan over low heat, add ketchup, butter, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, and Healthy Solutions Cajun Seafood Spice Blend. Mix well. Simmer on low for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Rinse and pat dry fish fillets. Put fish fillets on foiled lined baking sheet. Brush sauce over fish. Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. Turn oven to broil and broil for 3-5 minutes.
For the Marinated Spicy Slaw: Put red onions and Cole slaw mix (or cabbage) into a glass bowl. Pour 3 cups boiling water over mixture. Cover bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Drain. In a small bowl, add hot sauce and Healthy Solutions Cajun Seafood Spice Blend and whisk in olive oil and red wine vinegar. Pour over Cole slaw and onions. Toss well to coat. Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Drain before serving.
For the Cajun Potatoes: Toss the cubed potatoes with olive oil and Healthy Solutions Cajun Seafood Spice Blend and diced green onions, if using. Spread out on sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 450 degrees for about 30-35 minutes, turning halfway through cooking time.
This dish requires a little bit of planning ahead. The Marinated Spicy Slaw needs some time to sit in the fridge to marinate or to have the flavors “meld” as we like to say in our house. To begin, thinly slice the red onion (or purple if that’s what you call it!). I use a mandolin, if you do not have one, it is a wise investment. I can’t imagine making potatoes au gratin without one! But then again, I am no skilled knife woman!! Put the sliced onions with the Cole slaw mix (or cabbage) into a non- reactive bowl, I use a glass bowl. Pour 3 cups of boiling water over the Cole slaw (or cabbage) and onions and cover. Let stand 5 minutes. Drain. In a small bowl, add hot sauce and Cajun spice blend. Whisk in the olive oil and red wine vinegar and pour over Cole slaw and onion mixture, tossing well to coat.Cover and put into refrigerator at least 2 hours or even overnight (only gets nice and spicier!!).
Roasted potatoes are one of my quick fix favorites-a little olive oil and some seasoning is all it takes. I like how just changing up the seasoning or oil can change the whole meal. Cajun Potatoes-Simply toss cubed or diced potatoes (new potatoes are my favorite) with olive oil and Cajun spice blend. I like to add some diced green onions. Spread out potatoes on sheet pan lined with parchment paper. The paper helps give them a nice crispness. Roast in 450 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until tender. Turn (or give a quick toss) the potatoes halfway through cooking time.
Now for the Barbecued fish. The fish is the quick and easy part. I am using catfish for it was the fresh catch of the day from my fishmonger, but any firm whitefish will work. Rinse the fish and pat dry with a paper towel. Set on a foiled lined sheet pan or broiler pan. In a saucepan, over low heat stir in the ketchup, (I use salt free, why add salt if you don’t need to!) balsamic vinegar (Have you tried the balsamic vinegar ketchup?-great combination), butter (no need to melt, it will melt quick enough), Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, and Cajun spice blend. Stir well and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. The sauce will become nice and thick, like molasses. Remove from heat. Brush fish with sauce.Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, depending on size of fish. (Good rule of thumb is to cook fish 10 minutes per inch of thickness.) I like some extra brown bits on my fish and I like to add a little “lagniappe”, what we call a “little something extra” here in Louisiana, so I turn the oven to broil. I add some peeled and butterflied (tail left on) shrimp that I have brushed with the barbecue sauce to the sheet pan with the fish and broil for 2 1/2 minutes, turn the shrimp and continue to broil the fish and shrimp an additional 2 1/2 minutes. Of course, this step is optional. But I do like a quick broil to finish the fish, if even 2 minutes, it gives the fish a nice charbroiled flavor. That’s it!
Serve the fish with the marinated Cole slaw and the potatoes. I like to serve my fish on top of the slaw. My hubby likes his slaw on top of the fish. The only right way to eat it is to just eat it! Oh, and if you have any leftovers…the fish and slaw make an incredible po’boy or hoagie or sub depending on where ya from!!
Put your TO COOK IS TO CREATE thinking cap on: What else could you add to the marinated slaw? Sliced radishes? What about changing the red wine vinegar to apple cider vinegar? What about the new potatoes? Of course, rosemary is a famous choice, but get a little crazy and explore your spice drawer. I love to use my Indian spices with them. What else would the Cajun barbecue sauce be good on? Chicken? Pork Chops? How about on french bread, then broiled? Think about it, it is what I usually use to mop up the sauce in barbecue shrimp!!
FOOD FUN: This recipe challenge was my food fun. I made quite a few dishes before finally deciding on this one. My family was eager participants, and, of course, I have some leftovers! For a little friendly fun, go to your local spice store or grocery store and choose a spice you have never tried. Buy it and try it and have little spice challenge with your friends! Don’t be fooled or limited just because a spice says it is for chicken or seafood. First smell the spice. Next, taste the spice with your eyes closed. What flavors come to mind? Does the flavor remind you of anything? Finally, read the ingredients of the spice. How close were your thoughts? Usually if the smell reminds me of something, that’s my first step in deciding what to cook! If you need more guidance, look at the main ingredient, think how you usually enjoy that spice and go from there. Have Fun!