On Louisiana Eats! NOLA food icon Poppy Tooker takes us into Louisiana's wide open fields, deep waters, bustling markets, and busy kitchens. Poppy's people are carrying on the traditions of Louisiana's wholly local but universally celebrated food, from farm to table, and sometimes barroom! Poppy roams the State to find the folks whose inspiration and innovation are taking the abundant wealth of Louisiana's food culture into the future. Let's eat!
On this week’s show, we’re traveling from Lafitte bayous to French Quarter kitchens for a look at Louisiana’s Catch and Cook Program. Under Catch and Cook, charter fishing groups can bring their catch to a participating restaurant, where the chef will prepare their fresh-caught fish to order.
We begin by angling on the water with Dickie Brennan, Executive Chef Gus Martin, and Captain Theophile Bourgeouis. Theophile, a lifelong Louisiana fisherman, navigates the waters and leads us to a successful catch. Then, we follow our fish to the kitchen of Tableau, where Dickie Brennan’s team of chefs prepare the evening's dinner.
Next, we visit with Captain Lance Nacio, who shares his firsthand account of the impacts of land loss, oil spills, and storms on our coastline. Lance tells us the ways in which he’s confronting the many environmental setbacks that beset our Gulf fisherman.
Then, Lance Nacio and Darin Nesbit teach us about the potential of bycatch for the future of the fishing industry in Louisiana. Once known as “trash fish,” bycatch end up in shrimping nets by accident, but fishermen and restaurants alike are now cashing in and making one man's trash everyone's treasure.
Finally, we spend some time at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, where the state’s most promising start-ups participate in the Big Idea Competition. We speak with three contestants, who also happen to be remarkable food producers.
For more of all things Louisiana Eats, be sure to visit us at PoppyTooker.com.
YIELD: APPROXIMATELY 2 ½ CUPS
1/4 CUP OIL
1/2 CUP FLOUR
1 ONION, CHOPPED
1 BELLPEPPER, CHOPPED
3 STALKS CELERY, CHOPPED
4 LARGE CREOLE TOMATOES, PEELED, SEEDED & COARSELY CHOPPED OR
1 ½ CUP TOMATO SAUCE
2 TSP. THYME
2 BAY LEAVES
2 CLOVES GARLIC
1 BUNCH GREEN ONIONS, SLICED
SALT, PEPPER, CAYENNE AND HOT SAUCE TO TASTE
COMBINE OIL AND FLOUR IN A HEAVY SAUCEPAN. COOK UNTIL MILK CHOCOLATE BROWN. THEN STIR IN THE ONIONS. COOK FOR 2 – 3 MINUTES UNTIL ROUX DARKENS TO DARK CHOCOLATE BROWN. ADD CELERY AND BELLPEPPER STIRRING TOGETHER FOR ANOTHER 3 – 5 MINUTES, UNTIL SEASONING VEGETABLES ARE SOFT. ADD EITHER FRESH TOMATOES OR TOMATO SAUCE, THYME, BAY LEAVES AND GARLIC. BRING TO A BOIL, THEN REDUCE TO A SIMMER. SIMMER TOGETHER FOR 20 MINUTES OR LONGER. ADD GREEN ONIONS AND SEASON WITH SALT, PEPPER, CAYENNE AND HOT SAUCE. COOK AN ADDITIONAL 5 MINUTES AND SERVE.
Salt Baked Fish
One 3-4 lb. whole fish, gutted & scaled
2 large egg whites
¼ cup water
6 cups coarse Kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking pan with aluminum foil. Rinse the fish inside and out, then pat it dry with paper towel. Sprinkle any spices you’d like in the fish cavity along with herbs, citrus slices and aromatic vegetables.
For a fish of 3 – 4 pounds, whisk together 2 large egg whites and ¼ cup of water. (Bigger fish? Just increase the egg whites and water.) Gently mix in 6 cups of coarse Kosher salt.
Spread 2 cups of the salt and egg white mixture on the
baking pan in a rectangular strip about the same length
and width as the fish. Lay the fish down on the salted
bottom and generously spread the rest of the mixture
on top, making sure the fish is completely covered on
both sides and press down on the edges to be sure it’s
sealed. Bake for 25 minutes, then rests on the counter,
uncovered for 10 more minutes.
To serve, gently crack the shell and break it away
brushing off the salt. The flesh will come away from the
bones easily for serving. Salt baked fish can be served
simply with a little olive oil and lemon juice or any sauce.