Galley Special: Blackened Amberjack
“AJ [amberjack] gets a bad name, since in some areas it’s considered not so good to eat, but here in the Gulf of Mexico, it’s delicious!” says Eric Newman of Journey South Outfitters in Venice, Louisiana. While he’s now a full-time fishing guide and captain, Newman spent years as a professional chef. His Cajun roots show in this mouth-watering recipe, as he prepares the amberjack he caught.
Six 6- to 8-ounce pieces of fresh amberjack meat
One pound of crawfish tails (shelled)
Two 15-oz cans of corn
One half red onion, diced
One tomato, diced
One bell pepper (orange, red, yellow or green), diced
“A bunch [about two tablespoons] of finely minced garlic”
Several generous pinches of chopped fresh basil
The juice from half a lemon
Truffle oil (to taste)
Crystal hot sauce (to taste)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Place crawfish and corn on a shallow metal tray and smoke (on Traeger grill) at 165 for an hour to an hour-and-a-half (even longer at that low temp is okay).
Place the smoked corn and crawfish in a large bowl. Add: red onion, tomato, bell pepper, fresh basil, salt and pepper, Crystal hot sauce, truffle oil and lemon juice squeezed over all.
Mix well and place in frig for an hour or so for flavors to marry.
During that time:
If you haven’t done so already, cut from AJ fillets a half-dozen or so pieces — 6 to 8 ounces or so each. Coat each thoroughly in olive oil and sprinkle with Traeger Fin & Feather Rub — both sides, patting the seasoning firmly onto the meat. Put aside briefly to prepare the salad.
Place AJ chunks on a very hot cast iron pan in a Traeger Timberline Grill to blacken them.
Prepare the mixed-greens salad:
Swirl olive oil on generously over the greens, then vinegar, but not just any vinegar: cane vinegar. That lends a distinctly Cajun accent; however, if that’s not available, feel free to use rice vinegar, white balsamic vinegar or the like. In any case, use enough vinegar to give the salad “a little bit of zip,” in Newman’s words. Finally, sprinkle on black pepper and kosher salt and toss well.
On a large flat plate, place generous serving of mixed greens; on top of that, one of the blackened filet chunks; then cover the filet to overflowing with corn and crawfish relish.