A Fine Balance

dinner, cropped

I am emotionally drained. (Not by this dinner, though.)

blistered

Before I get into that, let me offer salutations for the students visiting from the University of Central Arkansas. Welcome! I hope your parents don’t find out that they’re paying good money for you to take a class and read this crap.

So, my delicate emotional state, being the lilting rose that I am. Last night, I had a very hard conversation with a good friend. On one hand, the outside observer would say that it did not go well; on the other, it went about as well as could be expected. There was yelling and crying and a great raising of dander and storming and it was generally unpleasant and awkward for everyone involved, and I’m not sure if Friend even really heard what we were trying to tell her.

boo hoo

I could go into more detail, but I won’t, to spite you.

Actually, it’s because I am actually a halfway decent person, and Friend did not sign up to have me air out all her business so you can get all up in her grill about it. I’m going to stop while I’m ahead and simply say: I needed some non-taxing, comforting food tonight. So, pan-seared catfish with poblano rajas cream sauce.

I guess this is kind of cheating, because I did sorta post about it once before, back when the blog sucked ass and none of you were here. But since none of you were here, it’s new to you!

chiles

I’m realizing that a double-edged food blogging sword is infinite variety pitted against familiarity. That is, every Thursday is something different. Every Tuesday is something different. Mondays and Fridays are takeout/go out, and Wednesday is a big bowl of Special K because that’s what I’m reduced to when Brian isn’t around for dinner. Weekends, all bets are off and we’re often eating at friends’ or families’ homes. So every week is exciting and different, but that means that for the past nearly three years, I’ve barely repeated a dish.

Cry me a river for my extreme first-world problem, won’t you?

Anyway, this dish used to be a dinnertime staple before I became a blogging gadfly. It only requires a handful of ingredients and a single pan, but the payoff is huge.

fishy

I roasted some poblanos; while they sat and steamed their little skins off, I chopped an onion and garlic. Catfish was seared and removed to a warming drawer, onions and garlic were sauteed and roasted chopped poblano was added along with some heavy cream, dried thyme and Mexican oregano.

Note to students: in your technological writing, you’ll want to use the passive voice a lot less than I do.

See, I’m value-added!

rajas

Once the cream cooks down a bit, that’s it. Plate up your fish, heap the poblano mixture on top and dribble some cream around. You’re done, and you’re welcome.

dinner

Normally, Brian is in charge of this meal and would throw together a blackening spice mix for the catfish but I was going it alone this time, so I just seasoned it with salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne. (Plus, now I can use the blackening spice mix to milk a whole ‘nother post out of this dish!)

Poblanos aren’t really spicy, they just have a rich, smoky flavor that pairs astonishingly well with dairy; the cream heightens the flavor and brings out a vegetal sweetness in the peppers. Catfish stands up well to the creamy sauce, and the onions add another layer of sweetness that’s a great foil to the deep flavor of the chiles. The thyme and oregano add an herbal note (duh) that helps lighten the dish.

All in all, this might be in my top 10 favorite things to eat. And that’s saying something, because I fricking love eating.

Now, I will sigh the Sigh of Contentment, and wait for my emotional equilibrium to return.

11 thoughts on “A Fine Balance

  1. Did you check out the Rick Bayless contest a month or so back? He did a very similar treatment, but with chicken–and he stretched the meal a bit by adding a bunch of sliced chard. We have made it a few times since, because it was so delicious. But with catfish: ZING!

  2. I do love me a big slab of catfish. With most anything you name done to it. I particularly love it grilled, with crawfish etoufee on top. Sweet Baby Jesus, but that’s good!

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention thursday night smackdown ยป A Fine Balance -- Topsy.com

  4. I have substituted Tilapia when there are no filets. Catfish nuggets are what we can usually get here.

    And I agree with @maybelles mom, shit happens, people grow up or they don’t, and life goes on. But I’m really more interested in why there are Arkansas students paying to read your blog. Oh, and thanks for the dinner inspiration.

  5. maybelle’s, yeah, i know. and i knew it was going to suck, but it still gets you.

    lizz, i keep meaning to check that out, and i never have the time. maybe next month (or maybe not).

    kay, ooh, etoufee. that puts my dinner to shame.

    alice, lari beat me too it – i was going to suggest tilapia as well.

    lari, i am also interested in why there are arkansas students paying to read my blog. apparently, it’s part of an assignment on tone and voice in writing for teh interwebs. i feel like i should get a cut.

  6. Just thought I’d pipe up to let you know I was around to read your post on this dish the first time. ;) and look, I’m still here!

  7. We’re studying you for our class because you have an interesting tone compared to most food blogs…at least, I imagine that is why the teacher chose your blog. Unless you’re friends of some sort.

  8. karen, role model? snort.

    donna, thanks for sticking around – i really appreciate it!

    patrick
    , i don’t know your teacher, and i take it as a compliment to be used by your class. hope you like the reading!

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