Can there be such a thing as healthy fish and grits or is this an oxymoron?
Healthy is a loose term to be sure. In Southern circles grits aren’t grits if they don’t have a big hunk of butter and cheese. Healthy to some people means to cut out all the fat, going from 60 to 0 and maybe even cutting out the salt.
In Spinach Tiger circles healthy is good old fashioned food, fresh ingredients, and nutrition sensibility. It doesn’t mean low calorie; it means lower calorie, which in today’s world of overeating, equates to the right amount of calories to sustain a reasonable weight, kicking out the extremes of feast and famine mentality. It also means not using artificial ingredients and chemicals which abound in many “diet” foods.
My inspiration for this dish comes from the Southern Oyster & Steak Restaurant I posted about here. When I love a dish, I try to figure it out, and make it more suitable for home cooking and everyday eating.
Restaurants tend to put a lot more fat into food than we would at home. Where they use a stick of butter, I’ll use a tablespoon, opting for the trimmer, lighter fare that I can control, but I wouldn’t dream of using margarine or butter substitutes or trying to make food that has no fat.
No fat, no flavor, and deprivation leads to overeating.
This is the lighter, scaled down version of Southern comfort food, the kind of dish that you can work out hard for an hour and come home to, and feel like you are eating real food that satisfies and nourishes.
I used red snapper as my fish of choice, but you could use whatever you want. Halibut was in the original inspired dish, but tilapia or even flounder would work as well. The key is to slim down the grits, add in the sweet potatoes which are a filling, yet good complex carbohydrate and top with a buttery fish that wasn’t cooked in butter, but flavored with high impact.
I didn’t use any tasso or sausage in this version, but I’m sure there will come a day when I will make a dinner party version, pumped up with the traditional fat trinity, pork, butter and cream. In the meantime, enjoy a balanced, lighter, taste of the South.
- 1⅓ pound red snapper, boned with skin on, cut into 4 serving pieces.
- olive oil, coconut oil or avocado oil
- cajun spice such as Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
- 2 cups sliced red cabbage
- 1 small onion sliced
- salt and pepper
- Sweet Potato Grits
- 3 tablespoons grated cheddar or gouda cheese (optional).
- Heat heavy bottom frying pan with olive oil or coconut oil.
- Rub fish on both sides with cajun spices
- Heat pan to medium heat. Place fish in hot pan.
- Cook for 2-4 minutes skin side down, until skin is crispy and fish easily moves. Turn over, cook for 2-4 more minutes.
- In another pan, saute onion and cabbage until wilted about 6 minutes.
- Add in salt and pepper to cabbage.
- Make sweet potato grits
- adding in gouda cheese as option during cooking time.
- Arrange fish on top of grits garnished with red cabbage.
Serve the snapper over these sweet potato grits.