I’m not sure if you follow my buddy Serena’s blog, Big Apple Nosh…but for the past few months she has been hosting a NoshGirl Chef Challenge. Three competitors are given two mystery ingredients that must be incorporated into their dish…voting opens…and the individual whose recipe receives the most votes is sent two wonderful, glorious, freshly baked black and white cookies from New York City.
If you haven’t guessed, I am participating in this month’s challenge! The ingredients: strawberries and black pepper.
When I first saw the ingredients I was to work with, I wrinkled my nose a little bit (hey, I’m being honest). If you know me, you know that I do not like strawberries. The flavor? Yes. The texture? Not so much. So, this was clearly going to be a personal challenge for me. I wanted to create a dish incorporating strawberries that would actually make me enjoy them! And I’m telling you right now: I did it. I’m not just saying it for the sake of the challenge…I really mean it!
For this recipe, I wanted to create a big contrast between the savory black pepper and the sweet strawberries. Step one: a spicy blackening rub.
1 heaping tablespoon paprika
3 teaspoons garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (dried basil, oregano, etc)
1. Add ingredients to a bowl and mix well.
2. Seal well and store in a cool, dry place.
***This recipe yields enough spice for roughly 4 fish filets
Now for the next step: some strawberry mango salsa!
1 cup diced strawberries
1 cup diced mango
1 cup diced red onion
1 medium jalapeno, diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1. Combine first 9 ingredients (through sugar).
2. Add salt, pepper, and minced garlic.
3. Allow at least 20 minutes to let flavors develop (refrigerate if desired).
4. Serve salsa on top of blackened fish. Keep leftovers refrigerated.
***This recipe yields enough for 4 generous portions
So…we have a spicy blackening seasoning, a sweet strawberry mango salsa…we rubbed mahi-mahi filets with a generous portion of the blackening seasoning and sauteed them in a pan over medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil for approximately 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the second side (until the filets were flaky and white). I made a pot of sticky white rice, then tossed in a handful of chopped fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime for flavor. A scoop of rice, a blackened mahi filet, and a large spoonful of strawberry mango salsa, and I was ready to dine!
I really enjoyed this recipe combo for its versatility. Any white, flaky fish would taste great with this seasoning (grouper, tilapia, etc.), and the spicy bite of the blackening is balanced out/cooled off by the strawberry mango salsa. My next endeavor with this recipe will be to utilize the ingredients for fish tacos – yum!!!
So – what’s next? Serena will be posting links to each competitors’ recipe tomorrow (Monday) morning, and the voting will then be open through Wednesday night! I’ll give you the link as soon as I have it tomorrow; I am counting on all of you to mosey on over and give me your vote (please?). Y’all – I want those cookies with a burning passion. I’ve never been to New York City – I want to sample a tasty NY treat!
And if you need any more motivation to vote for me on this challenge: the winner will be announced on Thursday…my birthday is Friday. You wouldn’t want to spoil my birthday, now would you? Kidding…kidding…