Every now and then a trip is just what the doctor ordered to cure a tired body and soul. After a hectic wedding season, I ventured some 500 miles west. Catching reds and specks was the name of the game. Redfish, red drum, spot tail, spots, speckled trout, sea trout, paper mouths, and channel bass are all names for sporty little fish that pull like heck at the end of a line. They are pretty good eating too.
My husband, Johnny, my sister, Mary Beth, and I were the last remaining participants of a fishing trip originally planned for eight. We drove the 10-hour trek past New Orleans to Apple Jack fishing camp in Port Sulphur, Louisiana. We navigated through a rough looking trailer park and topped a steep levee to reveal rows of houses on stilts lining a road flanked on either side by water. The waterside community reminded me of my place on the Ogeechee River back in Georgia and I knew I would come to love this fish camp far from home.
Returning home refreshed and recharged I wanted to capture Louisiana in a single recipe. Combining our haul from the fishing trip and a traditional topping for oysters married the flavors to represent the tastes of our trip.
“There’s no such thing as bad food in south Louisiana. It’s on a level with heroin.”- James Lee Burke
1. Sauté the shallots and garlic in butter and slowly stir over a very low heat until the onions are well cooked, but not brown. Sprinkle with the flour and cook until the flour begins to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add chicken stock and half and half and stir until smooth. Beat the egg yolk into the wine and add to the chicken broth mixture. Season with the salt and pepper, and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes until thickened. You may need to add chicken broth if mixture gets too thick. Add shrimp and cook until just pink.
2. Place red fish in baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Cook filets for 10-15 minutes until just done.
3. Mix Ritz, Parmesan cheese, and melted butter together for topping.
4. Spoon the sauce over each filet and sprinkle with Ritz topping. Return to the oven and bake until Ritz mixture is lightly browned.
5. Garnish with lemon and parsley. Serve with rice or grits.