Mark Falgoust, executive chef at Grand Isle Restaurant in New Orleans, believes every man should know what he calls the “Three C’s” of fishing — how to catch it, how to clean it, and how to cook it.
“Mastering the three C’s is like achieving some small bit of freedom,” said Falgoust. “There is something fundamental about a man, or anyone for that matter, being able to catch dinner, bring it home, and turn it in to something delicious.”
Falgoust practices what he preaches. He is currently fixated on frogs and garfish, taking his boat out on the bayou whenever he can find the opportunity to get a little time away from his busy kitchen at Grand Isle Restaurant. Growing up, he split his time between New Orleans and Pierre Part, La., true Cajun country where cooking is a way of life. His passion took him from the swamps of Pierre Part to the kitchens of esteemed restaurants such as Tom Colicchio’s Craft in New York and Donald Link’s groundbreaking Cochon in New Orleans. At Grand Isle, he has earned a growing reputation for his rustic Cajun-influenced dishes. Still, he’s never forgotten his roots or the lessons in rural cooking learned at the feet of his grandparents.
This recipe for garfish boules with garfish tasso cream sauce is a bit lengthy and complex. You could simplify things by making the fish cakes alone (and feel free to substitute other firm, white-fleshed fish for the gar), but going the extra mile may be well worth your time.
– 3 pounds cleaned garfish
– 4 large Idaho potatoes
– ¼ cup unsalted butter
– 1 medium sized sweet onion, chopped
– 4-5 ribs of celery, chopped
– 1 red bell pepper, sliced
– 3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
– Hot sauce
1. Using a meat grinder, grind the cleaned garfish meat.
2. Take 4 large Idaho potatoes and bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes, or until done. Flip them over every 20 minutes or so and check for doneness by piercing them with a fork.
3. Once cooled, peel potatoes and break into small pieces.
4. Melt ¼ cup butter using a sauce pan over medium heat, add chopped onions to the pan and cook until translucent.
5. Reduce heat and add chopped celery, sliced bell pepper, and minced garlic.
6. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 to 15 minutes on medium heat. Add a pinch of salt for flavor.
7. After removing from heat, add vegetables to a mixing bowl and add 2 tbsp. Crystal hot sauce to the mix (or your favorite brand).
8. Add the potatoes and ground garfish and combine all ingredients. Don’t over-mix or the mixture will become dense.
9. Place in fridge until mixture cools.
10. Take Garfish/vegetable mixture out of fridge and use a ring mold to form a crab cake (boules) circular shape.
11. Lightly press breadcrumbs into each side of boules
12. Place the boules in a non-stick pan and lightly brown on each side (approx. 3 to 4 minutes per side). Finish in the oven at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes.
13. Add smoked garfish tasso with cream sauce. Serve and enjoy.
Smoked Garfish Tasso
– Brown sugar
– Garlic powder
1. Taking the top half of the fish only, slice across the grain into thin strips about ¼ inch.
2. Season fish strips with salt, pepper, and a little cayenne.
3. In a bowl, add equal parts of brown sugar, garlic powder, and paprika and mix together. *Add just enough to coat the amount of fish you have.
4. Gently toss strips in seasoning and place on a pan with parchment paper. Place into smoker at 180 degrees for 45 minutes, then remove and cool.
5. Cut the strips into ½ inch pieces.
Tasso Cream Sauce
– 2 cups heavy cream
– ¼ cup garfish tasso
– ½ bundle of Green onions, sliced
– Bread crumbs
– Salt and pepper
1. Using a saucepan, add 2 cups cream, ¼ cup garfish tasso, and sliced green onions. Bring to a boil and reduce heat; simmer until mixture is thick.
2. Season with salt and pepper and add ¼ tsp. to 1/8 tsp. of cayenne. Add 2 Tbsp. of cold unsalted butter. Mix well.