Smoked Halibut Quesadillas
How did you spend your 4th of July? I am lucky enough to have a fish killing cousin that invited me along to kill some ‘butts. Halibut that is. We drove down to the Kenai peninsula Thursday night and turned in early. Leave time Friday morning was 5:30am. We had to get an early start so that we could make the 7:20am low slack water out of Whiskey Gulch. It was a beautiful sunrise that day.
You have to get up real early to see a sunrise in Alaska in July, or stay up really late. We ended up fishing both Friday and Saturday. The fish weren’t all that big but we did limit out both days. Here is L.T. catching her first ever halibut.
Getting the boat off the beach is always a challenge. This time though my cousin Greg’s wife’s family were having their extra long weekend party at Whiskey Gulch beach. They have all the toys that make launching and recovering boats from the beach nice and easy. (Thanks Big Tim)
Greg and I have come to the conclusion that his boat makes my truck look cooler and vice versa.
Time to clean the fish. Tim and I getting our filet on.
Now for the cooking part. Greg came up with the brilliant idea of smoking all of the tail pieces. When you cut up halibut filets the tail pieces are always thinner and will overcook in the same time that others are just getting done. So finding a delicious use for them was a great idea in my opinion. I put together a quick brine of 1 cup kosher salt, 1 cup white sugar, and 1 cup soy sauce mixed in with 1/2 gallon of water. I use hot water to dissolve the sugar and salt and then mix in cold water. Let the fish soak in the brine refrigerated overnight.
The next day rinse the fish thoroughly. Then put on your smokers racks to dry. The best way is to air dry in a cool place for about an hour. Put everything in the smoker along with some alder chips. I use a “Big Chief” electric smoker for all my fish. They are super cheap and work amazingly well.
Each load of alder chips will last about 45 minutes. I only put in 2 loads of chips and then let the fish go without for another 30 minutes. That adds up to about 2 hours total in the smoker. Take the racks out and allow to cool. Most of this was vacuum packed and frozen for later but it was just too delicious to not sample some as soon as possible.
So tonight I decided on something that doesn’t take the oven ’cause it is freaking hot outside. Quesadillas with pico de gallo, fresh guacamole, and sour cream on the side seemed like a fitting showcase for the fish.
The pico is an old standby. One tomato, 1/2 a red onion, 3 green onions, 3 cloves garlic, 2 jalapeno, a handful of cilantro, lime juice, and some salt and pepper. Dice everything fine and that is it.
Next is the guacamole. I chop up the avocado in small chunks. Then add in some of the pico, 1/8 cup sour cream, and this time I used some fresh ground New Mexico red chiles. Stir it up and set aside.
Now for the kicker. Way back in the day, my ex-girlfriend’s cousin used to hang out with us all the time. She would come over for dinner at least twice a week. Well she liked quesadillas and so for Christmas one year she bought me an honest to god quesadilla maker. That was like 17 years ago and although I am not with the same girl, I do still have the quesadilla maker.
I used whole wheat tortillas. Put down some of the fish and then top with grated pepper jack cheese and another tortilla. Let the thing get all crispy on the outside and melty on the inside. (Did that sound like a Taco Bell commercial?)
Cut em up and enjoy!
This is actually the second little treat I have made using the smoked halibut. Today’s lunch was a sandwich with a smoked halibut salad (mayo, dill relish, and the fish), tomato, lettuce, avocado, and toasted 7 grain bread. Still coming up with more ways to use this amazing fish.
Thanks again Greg