While fishing for largemouth bass on a cool April morning this spring, I happened upon a large school of hybrids that I identified on my fish finder. I placed my boat in position to give them a try, and caught 3 on the first 3 casts! After that, I was hybrid fishing! I spent the next 4 hours loading a cooler full of nice, chunky, delicious hybrid fillets, ranging in size from 3 pounds to 8 pounds! I even called my wife to come to the boat ramp and let me go pick her up to get in on the action. We had a phenomenol day!
What you will need:
For the Blackened Hybrid Bass:
6-8 hybrid bass fillets, skin, bones and blood line removed (average adult will likely eat 2 fillets)
Old Woodfire Grill KK’s 10 BBQ Rub, or blackening seasoning of your choice
1 cup unsalted butter, or olive oil for a low calorie substitute
Cast iron skillet
Hickory, pecan or apple chunks (optional)
For the Cajun Crab Sauce:
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup chopped bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 can rotel
Dry white wine
Crab claw meat, cooked, chopped and chilled
1/2 cup of unsalted butter
Old Woodfire Grill KK’s 10 BBQ Rub, or Cajun Seasoning of your choice
Chopped scallions for garnish
Start out by preparing the ingredients for the Cajun Crab Sauce. Chop the onion, celery and bell pepper (known as the Cajun Trinity), and start to lightly sautee them in a small amount of butter in a skillet. This is also a good time to start the grill. The Hybrid Bass Fillets can be cooked on the grill, Big Green Egg, camp stove, kitchen stove….whatever suits you best. For this recipe, I used the Weber Kettle Grill with lump charcoal and a few chunks of hickory wood. It gave the fish an added hint of flavor that was outstanding. The key to blackening the fish is that you have to have the cast iron skillet hot, as in WHITE HOT. So be very careful when dealing with the skillet during this process. If you plan to cook it on the grill as I did, you want to build a very hot fire in your cooker, 400-500 degrees. Once the charcoal is burning good, place the cast iron skillet in the center of the cooking grate and let it start to get hot. Meanwhile, give the Trinity a stir or two, then go ahead and melt 1 cup of butter. Place the hybrid bass fillets in a shallow pan and season liberally with the Old WoodFire Grill KK’s 10 BBQ Rub or your choice of seasoning. Pour the melted butter over the fillets, and flip them over and over in the melted butter to completely cover them. Once they are completely coated with the melted butter, hit them again with another coat of seasoning.
Back to the sauce, lightly season the Trinity with the bbq rub or Cajun seasoning. Add the minced garlic to the Trinty, and continue to cook on medium heat for a another minute or so. Add 1/2 cup of dry white wine to deglaze the pan. Let it simmer for 4-5 minutes to add flavor and reduce. Next, add the can of rotel to the pan and mix thoroughly. Add the heavy cream, just enough to cover the mixture, but not too much as to make it too thin and soupy. Stir this mixture up and let it simmer uncovered for a few minutes on low heat.
Meanwhile, when the cast iron skillet is white hot, carefully place the butter coated and seasoned hybrid bass fillets into the skillet with a slight seperation between them, so as not to crowd them. Cook them for 1-2 minutes, depending on thickness, then flip with a spatula and repeat.
When the blackened fillets are ready, add the crab claw meat and the grated parmesan cheese to the sauce, and stir it well. Place a fillet on a platter and smother it with the Cajun crab sauce. Great side dishes to go with this meal are red beans and rice and corn on the cob boiled in crab boil.