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Fish 4 Friday: Intense Creole Fish Stew

Red Snapper

Some Creole dishes are just plain hot. Think about it: “mild” and “habañero” just don’t get used in the same sentence. And as a community service (that means No Charge to You, this time), the basement elves from the Underground’s Department of Soft-Hearted Litigation Avoidance have asked me to warn you: This Stew Uses Habañero Chiles! With that out of the way, let’s push on:

Of course you can cut back on the chiles, change to something milder (like Serranos), or leave them out completely. But where’s the fun in that? In this instance, it’s all part of the flavor payload. Your choice, though. If you’re not used to habañero chiles, maybe you should tune it back and sneak up on the full effect as you learn (and your lips gain some resistance). You’ll be rewarded not just with heat, though; habañeros are renowned for their fruity flavor.

Fish Stew

A word or two about the fish. You can use almost any fish in this dish, of course. Some work better than others, though. If the fish is too mild, its flavor may get lost in the bold zest of the chile or even underneath the tomatoes. On the other hand, a strongly flavored fish, like salmon, may unbalance the flavor as well. Try out whatever looks good, though, and ask your fishmonger for some assistance choosing if you’re not very experienced with choosing fish (like me; I only know how to tell fish apart by reading those little sign thingies stuck in the ice in the fish case at the supermarket). Whatever you pick, be sure it’s good and fresh! Stinky fish, stinky food; it’s a rule.

A true word of caution, though. Always use gloves (disposables work best) when handling habañero chiles! Wash the utensils you use to mince the chiles in hot, soapy water right away too. And take it from a pro, don’t never, ever touch your face while working with these searing little bits of tropical goodness! Remember, the eyes and nose you save from several hours of agonizing torment may be yours…

Enjoy the (Howlin’ Habañero) Heat!

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