Friday, May 26, 2017

Spicy Southern Comfort BBQ Swai with Hickory Smoked Bacon Bits

     Gourmet BBQ Fish!
     Barbecue fish started to catch on back in the 1980's.  Many chefs just basted char grilled fish with pre-made bottled western style BBQ sauce.  The strong tasting bottled BBQ Sauce was not well suited for fish.  Floribbean and Caribbean chefs made nice hand crafted BBQ sauces for fish back in those days and the flavor was much better.
     Today's Spicy Southern Comfort BBQ Sauce recipe definitely is not a disappointment.  The complex flavor of Southern Comfort Liquor does shine through.  The ingredients that are used to flavor Southern Comfort Liquor taste good in a barbecue sauce on their own, so this liquor and sauce pairing naturally is a real crowd pleaser.  
     Fish with dense firm textured meat can easily be chargrilled when cooking barbecue.  Firm textured fish can also be used to make barbecue kabobs or brochettes.  Since firm texture fish, like salmon, tuna or swordfish are so easy to barbecue, why bother with any other kind of fish?  The answer is because many people prefer to only eat delicate texture whitefish.  
     Fish with light flaky textured meat should be broiled, smoked or roasted in an oven when barbecuing, because delicate whitefish tend to fall apart when chargrilled.  A combination of smoking and roasting delicate whitefish at a moderate temperature yields a rustic fish flavor that is perfect for pairing with a good barbecue sauce.  It is best to let the fish meat cook till some light brown highlights appear, before starting to baste with the BBQ sauce.  Otherwise, the full flavor of the fish will not develop.  This is especially true for a delicate fish that is barbecued under a broiler.    
     Swai is a large catfish species that has light delicate textured meat.  Swai are not exactly bottom feeders and their aggressive nature is part of the reason why they are also called "Iridescent Shark."  Swai meat is a bit too delicate for chargrilling, so barbecuing the Swai under a broiler is the next best choice.  Spicy Southern Comfort BBQ Sauce tastes nice with the light delicate Swai meat. 
     Farmed Swai have been under scrutiny for sustainability issues in recent years.  Much of this is due to outdated pond fish farming methods and environmental threats.  When farmed correctly, Swai production is efficient and the sustainability rating is high.  The problem is that Swai are farmed in Vietnam, so it is difficult to tell if the Swai comes from a sustainable resource.  Vietnamese fish farming techniques are improving, so the sustainability issues associated with Swai will hopefully become a thing of the past.  If Swai sustainability continues to be an issue, then substitute any other sustainable farm raised catfish species from a source that meets modern standards.                    

     Spicy Southern Comfort BBQ Sauce:
     This recipe yields 3 cups of thin BBQ sauce.  (Enough for 6 to 8 fish filets.)
     The key to making this sauce is to let the flavor of the Southern Comfort Liquor take center stage.  The rest of the ingredients should meld with the Southern Comfort Liquor flavor.  
     Step 1:  Place a large stainless steel sauce pot over low heat.
     Add 3 cups of water.
     Add 2 seeded chile guajillo.
     Add 3 seeded mild New Mexico Chile Peppers.
     Add 2 teaspoons of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
     Step 2:  Add 1 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of coriander.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder.
     Add 2 teaspoons of onion powder.
     Add 1 pinch of allspice.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ginger powder.
     Step 3:  Add 3/4 cup of tomato puree.
     Add 1/3 cup of peeled seed chopped fresh tomato.
     Add 1/3 cup of Organic Ketchup.
     Step 4:  Add 1 tablespoon of Dijon Mustard.
     Add 1/2 cup of light brown sugar.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of granulated sugar. 
     Add 1/4 cup of cider vinegar. 
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Step 5:  Gently simmer the ingredients till the chile peppers become very tender.
     Step 6:  Remove the pot from the heat and let the sauce cool to room temperature.
     Puree the sauce with a blending wand (immersion blender), food processor or a blender.
     Step 7:  Return the sauce to the sauce pot and place it over low heat.
     Season the sauce with sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it can thinly coat a spoon.
     Step 8:  Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of Southern Comfort Liquor.
     Bring the sauce back to a gentle boil.
     Step 9:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin consistency that can glaze a spoon.
     Step 10:  Place the sauce in a container.
     Keep the sauce warm on a stove top or chill it for later use.

     Hickory Smoked Bacon Bits:
     Smoked Bacon is best when cooked just a little it less than crispy.  
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 strips of Hickory Smoked Bacon that are diced.
     Sauté till the bacon bits are golden brown.
     Step 2:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the bacon bits in a strainer to drain off any excess grease.
     Place the bacon bits in a container.
     Keep the bacon bits warm on a stove top.

     Spicy Southern Comfort BBQ Swai with Hickory Smoked Bacon Bits:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Delicate whitefish like Swai should be smoked, broiled or oven roasted when barbecuing.  
     Step 1:  Set a broiler to a moderate heat setting.
     Step 2:  Select a 6 to 8 ounce Swai filet.
     Lightly brush the Swai filet with vegetable oil or melted unsalted butter.
     Lightly season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 3:  Place the Swai filet on a broiler pan that is brushed with vegetable oil.
     Broil the Swai on both sides till a few golden brown highlights appear and the fish is almost fully cooked.  (Only flip the filet once.)
     Step 4:  Use a pastry brush to baste the Swai filet with the Spicy Southern Comfort BBQ Sauce.
     Broil and baste occasionally, till the BBQ sauce glazes the fish and the sauce lightly caramelizes.
     Step 5:  Remove the broiler pan from the oven.
     Use a large spatula to place the Spicy Southern Comfort BBQ Swai on the front half of a plate.
     Pour about 2 tablespoons of the Sicy Southern Comfort BBQ Sauce on the plate around the fish.
     Sprinkle the Hickory Smoked Bacon Bits over the fish.  
     Step 6:  Serve with a rice and vegetable of your choice.  
     Garnish with an Italian parsley sprig.
     *Buttered Okra braised with chicken broth and Thai Black Jasmine Rice are the vegetables in the photos.

     Those who like BBQ fish will surely like this recipe! 

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