Provisions: Louisiana Redfish

The author of A Southern Gentleman's Kitchen shows us how to bring in a proper catch off the coast of New Orleans
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Aug 20, 2015 | By Matt Moore

After teaching us about the classic Southern way of cooking ribs, Matt Moore, author of A Southern Gentleman's Kitchen, is back with a perfect late-summer recipe for pan-seared Louisiana redfish. 

old beer.  Friends.  Fishing. I’m pretty sure those three words perfectly summarize my idea of happiness.

When I first set out to write A Southern Gentleman's Kitchen, I wanted to truly capture the stories and adventure behind the food. Call it a ploy to make my publisher support my hunting and fishing habit, but it was a "working" excuse to sneak away and celebrate one of my most favorite rituals — fishing, drinking, bullshitting, and cooking with friends.

For me, there’s no better place to pursue such habits than inside and outside the city of New Orleans. After a two-day gumbo/Abita binge in the Big Easy, I decided it prudent to ask around as to where I could wrangle up the best fishing charter to chase some Reds and Specs (or redfish and speckled trout, for all y’all not from here).

You see, a true fisherman doesn’t peruse internet searches or Yelp reviews when trying to find a local fixer – instead, we rely on word of mouth. It’s a look you in the eye-and-a-firm-handshake kind of a deal. So upon hearing the larger than life character stories about Captain Jack and the folks at Sweetwater Marina, I was instantly smitten.

About a sixty minute drive outside the city and through St. Bernard Parish, you’ll come to the small fishing town of Delacroix. Boats, trucks, trailers, and stilt homes litter the flat, barren landscape. There’s one order of business taking place in Delacroix – and it is fishing.

Captain Jack, in his best Cajun drawl, was a bit taken aback by my crew, especially upon meeting our professional photographer Hunter Holder. I got the impression that Jack thought silly of men who kept a photographer in tow to glorify their catch. City boys, I’ll bet he was thinking.

It was only made worse by my ensemble – forgetting to pack a pair of decent shoes, I spent the day fishing in cowboy boots – which I now in fact believe might be trendsetting – though it lent me the moniker of "Pretty Boy" by Captain Jack. I suppose it could get worse. Sticking to my side to catch all of my diva moments (now that I’m a "pretty boy"), Hunter got the appropriate yet unfortunate nom de guerre of "Booger."

But this trip wasn’t about fashion – it was time to fish.  After a cruise around to appropriately confuse and mystify other charters and captains (they all follow Jack), we set out to find our own honey hole. Setting up our rods, leading the baited shrimp with five or six feet of line to a bubble popper to splash and run amuck on the water, we were ready to tempt those reds to come out and play.

I’ll be the first to admit – they don’t call it catching for a reason. Most of my fishing days of late have been more admiring the scenery than anything else, and I'll end up leaving my fishing spot with a bit of beer buzz and a sore casting arm, sans a single fish. 

But on this day, with our trusty captain, we slayed reds like it was going out of style – each catching our limit and a good buzz in a half a day’s work. 

Prized for their fighting ability, and featuring a delicate, mild meat, reds are considered by many a sport fisherman to be the crème de la crème when it comes to enjoying one’s catch. Of course, as responsible gentleman and sportsman, we each possessed our necessary licenses and kept our catch within the legal size and limit.

After cruising back to the dock, most other folks looked in awe and amazement as we poured out our catch. We’d done good.

But things were about to get better. After fileting and packing up the fish, we headed back into the Quarter to cook up our catch. Though reds are typically battered and fried, I like to enjoy the freshness of the catch simply by pan searing the fish in castiron and topping it all off with a cool punch of a crab salad. Trust me, this combination is haute cuisine for fisherman – but simple enough for even the novice cook.

A day of catching fish, hanging with friends, drinking beer, and delicious eats. Cheers to that, y’all! [H]

Pick up your copy of A Southern Gentleman's Kitchen here.

Matt Moore is a Nashville based writer, cook, entrepreneur, musician, and Southern Gentleman. 
His work has been featured on
 VH1The New York Times, Art of ManlinessSouthern Living, and others. 
He enjoys teaching others to cook and share great food — along with drinking cold beers with friends and strangers. Follow him on Instagram here.

Images ©: Hunter Holder