Spice-Up Your Catch with cHarissa™
By Tom Schlichter
F or those of us who are unabashed seafood lovers, it’s hard to ignore the allure of Long Island’s East End. From porgies to tuna, fluke to stripers, clams, oysters and blue claw crabs, the waters here are blessed with an abundance of culinary delights. Now there’s yet another reason for anglers and “foodies” to love the region, a new spice called cHarissa™ that’s the perfect complement to just about anything you catch.
I first stumbled across this newly released spice at a farmer’s market last summer when Greenport resident Earl Fultz offered samples of bread, chips and various vegetables to dip in the condiment version of his product. One taste and I was instantly hooked.
“You should try this on fish or meat,” Fultz suggested. “It’s good on everything.”
“That’s a great tagline,” I remember thinking as my wife and I purchased our first jar and, by later that afternoon, we were putting it to the test. With a freezer full of fish, venison and game birds, we set out over the next few months cutting cHarissa™ into just about every meal we could imagine and in every instance it passed the test. We started with fluke, added it to stripers, brushed it on sea bass, porgies and cod, then progressed to venison and pheasant. Before long, we were using it as a dip for veggies, rubbing it on any meat we grilled, adding it to fish chowder, meatballs and crock-pot recipes – and racing back to the farmer’s market every few weeks to restock our supply. Fultz was right – cHarissa™ is good on everything, especially game and fish.
“I gave it a try early this summer,” said Charlie Manwaring of Southold Seafood Market in Greenport, who is also hooked on the fresh taste of this cumin-based spice. “I really like it. This is an interesting spice because it melds with the true taste of seafood and meat without overpowering the natural flavors. I use it on venison and steak at home, too, and at the store I now sell cHarissa™-smoked salmon and the spice itself as specialty items. With the smoked fish, I remove it from the brine, let it sit for two hours, and then pat it fully dry before covering with condiment-style cHarissaTM and placing it in the smoker. It comes out great every time.”
The story behind this spice is really quite interesting. Owner Earl Fultz was raised on the Montana frontier and his wife, Gloria, a gifted cook, was born in Morocco. Eventually, she tamed the fiery spices of her native land so their children could enjoy the flavors of Moroccan cuisine on their favorite American dishes. The result was cHarissaTM, a recipe that remained within the family for over 50 years until Gloria’s recent passing. It was then – at age 89 – that Earl Fultz decided to start his own business and released the spice in both condiment and dry-rub styles with “Original” and “With A Kick!” versions of each.
cHarissa™ is made from all natural ingredients, and is 100% sugar-free, gluten-free and MSG-free – so you can serve it without shame. It’s available at several East End farmers’ markets including Greenport, Riverhead and Sag Harbor, or on-line at www.OutdoorTom.com
Fish Tacos With cHarissa™
• 3 tbs. balsamic vinegar
• 6 tbs. olive oil
• Pinch of salt and pepper
• 1⁄2 small head of red cabbage, thinly sliced
• 1⁄4 red onion, thinly sliced
• 1 lb. thick, white-fleshed fish (striper, cod or halibut)
• 2 tbs. cHarissaTM dry rub, mild or hot 1/3 cup chicken broth or water
• 1 lime
• 4 large whole wheat tortillas Guacamole
• Sour cream
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, add balsamic vinegar, 4 tbs. olive oil, salt and pepper to red cabbage and onion slices. Toss and set aside.
3. Cut fish into four equal, rectangular portions.
4. Pat fish dry with paper towels.
5. Sprinkle cHarissaTM evenly over fish then press spice firmly into each portion. 6. Use medium-high heat to warm remaining olive oil in an oven-safe skillet or cast iron pan. Add fish and sear on one side.
7. Flip the fish and add chicken broth or water.
8. Place pan with fish in pre-heated oven.
9. Cook fish for 8 minutes or until white and easily flaked. Drizzle with lime. 10. Place one fish portion on each pre-warmed tortilla. Add cabbage, guacamo- le and sour cream to taste. Serve with a green salad and side of dirty rice and pair with a bottle of Greenport Brewery Summer Ale. Delicious![/colored_box]