Southern Fish Fry Tacos

Growing up my dad would take my brother and me fishing during the summer. He always had these grand ideas of catching a huge catfish and us eating it for dinner. Every time he would bring a cooler with this goal in mind, and every single time we didn’t catch a catfish to cook. A couple of times someone downriver had more than enough and gave us some, but we as a family weren’t looking so hot.

I like to imagine these tacos are the dream scenario of what we would have cooked if our family fishing skills were worth a damn.

They consist of cornmeal crusted catfish, tartar sauce made with southern chow chow relish, and a honey mustard lemon pepper slaw on a yellow corn tortilla. All these flavors are so classic summer in the deep south, and the harmony between spicy and crispy fish, creamy and tangy tartar sauce, and the little bit of sweet from the crunchy slaw gets more R-rated noises out of me than any dish I know.

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Shrimp Fra Diavlo with Cacio E Pepe Grits

A trip to Charleston, South Carolina had the power to turn anyone into a shrimp and grits eating fool. Most traditional shrimp and grits recipes use a kind of tomato-y peppery sauce on top of the shrimp. I wanted to take that idea and cheesy grits and kick it into overdrive.

Shrimp fra diavlo keeps the kind of spicy tomato goodness on a classic shrimp and grits, but amps up the garlic and herb content to make it sing. And the cacio e pepe grits? Ohhhhh those grits. Cacio e pepe is a Roman pasta dish that is essentially the real Italian version of an Alfredo. Cacio e pepe translates into cheese and pepper. So think parmesan cheesy grits with a huge black pepper punch. Even my friend Mike who lived in Charleston called them the best grits he’s ever had. Put simply, this shrimp and grits goes beyond classic Charleston into nirvana.

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Spaghetti Vongole

I think my ultimate food happy place is any kind of pasta and shellfish. Something about the sweet, briny flavors on top of a bowl of noodles gets me going every time. A particular favorite of mine is spaghetti vongole. This os a dish that clasically consists of clam and chili. What’s not to love??

Like my pasta puttanesca this dish uses the classic aglio olio consisting of anchovy and garlic as the flavor base for the sauce. The anchovy not onoy enhances the ocean flavor of the clams, but also adds a huge savory kick as well. So all in all we have sweet, salty, briny, spicy, savory, and bright. Just talking about it I wish I had a bowl in front of me.

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Black Magic Risotto

There’s something so magical about Halloween. From watching Hocus Pocus, to gorging on sweets it really is one of my favorite times of year. For this Halloween I wanted to come up with a dark and spooky dish to fit the season.

One ingredient came to mind, squid ink. Squid ink has become a really exciting ingredient for me. I’ve had it in nicer restaurants and enjoyed it. And of course we can’t forget my pasta for goths recipe that stars squid ink pasta. Squid ink gives a beautiful briny, ocean-like flavor to whatever you add it to. Squid ink used to be a hard to find luxury ingredient, but we live in the age of the internet and you can easily find it online.

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Firepower Salmon Poké

My last nomadic-esque stint in Chicago ignited a massive fire in my heart for poké. There happened to be a poké joint near where I was staying and after one bowl I was hopelessly devoted. Why wouldn’t I be? Poké is essentially a sushi/salad hybrid. You can get marinated fish of your choice served over either greens or rice with all the accoutrements your heart could desire.

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