Sunday, April 8, 2012

Quick & simple, healthy meal: Blackened Hake Fillet with Seasoned Italian Squash

I used to make quick, simple, and delicious meals like this all the time in college. But for some reason, in the past few years I've started trying to get all complicated with my cooking. But a lot of times, simple meals made on a whim are the best - quick to cook, less cleanup, more time to relax, and still tasty food.

This was a simple meal I made with things I found in my fridge. My mom and I almost always buy frozen Hake fillets from Costco. They aren't the most tasty fish... just a pretty plain, white fish... but they're cheap (under $10 for a large bag of frozen and individually wrapped fillets at Costco; sometimes they have a coupon and it's around $7), have very low levels of mercury, easy to always have in stock (because they are frozen), and Costco always has good quality products. I blackened the fish (blackened as in the method of cooking rather than the typical spice blend) then lightly sauteed some seasoned squash in the same pan to pick up some of the flavor - plus easy clean-up. For some freshness, I topped the squash with fresh cilantro and the fish with pico de gallo salsa I found in my fridge (my mom makes AWESOME pico de gallo). Dinner done in about 10 minutes!! You can tell this was a fast meal because there's actual sunlight in the picture. I usually get home from work so late because of working extra and of a long commute.... then on top of that, long prep/cooking time = eating dinner late and dark, bad quality pictures (and these are all pics from my iPhone, so they already aren't the best).

Blackened Hake Fillet with Seasoned Italian Squash (serves 1)

- 1 hake fillet, thawed (or any simple, white fish)
- chili powder
- 1 yellow italian squash or zucchini, sliced
- taco seasoning blend (check for no sugar in the ingredients)
- a few stems of fresh cilantro, chopped roughly
- pico de gallo salsa
- olive oil
- butter (I used Earth Balance buttery spread with Olive Oil for a healthy option that still has the buttery flavor)
- salt

1. Dry the hake fillet thoroughly with a paper towel. It is important to dry the fish, so you get a nice browned crust on the outside of the fish.
2. Season both sides of the fish with a little bit of salt and a generous sprinkling of chili powder. After sprinkling, press the seasoning in to the fish with your hands to make sure they stick well.
3. Heat a heavy, cast iron skillet to medium-high.
4. When hot, add a light drizzle of olive oil and a pat of butter. Move the pan around so that the melted butter and oil mix together and coat the pan evenly.
5. Put the fish fillet in the pan and cook until each side has a nice, dark-brown crust and the thickest part of the fish flakes easily. Remove from pan and set on a plate.
6. Add a little more olive oil in the pan and throw in the squash.
7. Season with store-bought taco seasoning and salt (if salt is not already an ingredient in the taco seasoning blend).
8. Sautee until squash is just barely soft, remove from pan, and add to your plate.
9. Top the squash with cilantro and the fish with pico de gallo.

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