Fish for Breakfast
Several years ago I was visiting the West Coast of Southern California. Every morning I would walk to this West Coast surfer coffee shop. It was just around the corner from where I was staying. Often I felt like I was in the twilight zone as most of the shop’s patrons had a different style of eating breakfast than I had ever experienced. I was almost expecting to see Dr. Seuss sitting there eating his green eggs & ham. Everybody had coffee but what was different was that everybody also had pie. Yes, I have fond memories of apple pie and coffee for breakfast. I thought what a strange place this is and then it got even stranger. On the same trip, I drove to San Francisco for a weekend where I encountered people with fish on the plate for breakfast. What the heck?
I had forgotten about this West Coast experience until recently when I noticed the increased popularity of eating fish for breakfast in Florida and the rest of the world. Or maybe I just never caught on to the idea because seafood for breakfast was a foreign concept to me. My first thought was that fish for breakfast isn’t the most appetizing idea because seafood is for dinner….right? Man, was I wrong.
Lox and bagels are actually one of my favorite breakfast meals and possibly one of my favorite meals anytime of the day. Lox is a cured Salmon that is sliced thin and usually served on a toasted bagel with cream cheese, red onion, tomato, and capers. Smoked fish plus lox and bagels has been a breakfast mainstay for hundreds of years and are found especially on menus in delicatessens around the world. We smoke and cure our own salmon on a weekly basis and honey smoked salmon and lox are available at your Big Water Fish Market.
Recently, I started noticing things that made me realize that fish isn’t just for dinner anymore. It started on a morning last month when an employee of the Big Water Fish Market went into the kitchen to make himself a breakfast sandwich. He returned 15 minutes later holding a shrimp and egg croissant sandwich and a stupid grin on his face from ear to ear. After my initial shock, then wondering how much that sandwich just cost me, I said to myself hmmmm, that looks pretty damn good and it was.
This shrimp and egg sandwich triggered a series of events, such as a neighbor who brought me a Crawfish and cheese omelet after a long night of play, a rerun of a Seinfeld episode about the Lobster Omelet, an amazing early brunch that featured Stone Crab claws and Shrimp, followed by a friend’s story of celebrity Dwayne Johnson aka “The Rock” who eats 800 pounds of Cod fish a year starting with his daily breakfast (I’m thinking maybe we should open up a fish market next to Dwayne’s house and call it the House of Cod). Finally, I made myself a simple Irish Salmon and scrambled eggs with fruit and coffee on the Sunday morning of the Masters Golf Tournament. It was delish! What a great way to start a Sunday. I was hoping this Irish plate would bring Rory a green jacket but no such luck. This is what inspired me to write my column on this topic as “Fish for Breakfast” was never the intended article.
As I began to think more about the concept of fish for breakfast I started to see the health benefits of starting your day with a low fat, high protein meal that promotes heart and circulatory health. Then I thought about the taste benefits and how a breakfast plate of fish and eggs or shrimp and grits actually sounds like a fantastic way to start the day. After all, there are a lot of reasons people take a fish oil capsule as a dietary supplement in the morning. You can still do that, but from now on I’m not going to deny myself the taste of fish for breakfast anymore.
As I searched the internet for good breakfast recipes I was surprised to find an unlimited selection of fish breakfast recipe options. A few standouts to me were a Salmon with spinach Eggs Benedict, breakfast fish tacos, and burritos, fried fish with eggs plus many more upscale and simple dishes.
Here is a delicious recipe for Shrimp & Grits:
1 cup coarsely ground grits
3 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups half-and-half
2 pounds uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
salt to taste
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 lemon, juiced
1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
5 slices bacon
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Bring water, grits, and salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan with a lid. Stir in half-and-half and simmer until grits are thickened and tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
Sprinkle shrimp with salt and cayenne pepper; drizzle with lemon juice. Set aside in a bowl.
Place andouille sausage slices in a large skillet over medium heat; fry sausage until browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.
Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat, turning occasionally until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Retain bacon drippings in skillet. Transfer bacon slices to paper towels, let cool, and crumble.
Cook and stir green, red, and yellow bell peppers, onion, and garlic in the bacon drippings until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes.
Stir shrimp and cooked vegetables into the andouille sausage and mix to combine.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat; stir in flour to make a smooth paste. Turn heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is medium brown in color, 8 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully, mixture burns easily.
Pour the butter-flour mixture into the skillet with andouille sausage, shrimp, and vegetables. Place the skillet over medium heat and pour in chicken broth, bacon and Worcestershire sauce, cooking and stirring until the sauce thickens and the shrimp become opaque and bright pink, about 8 minutes.
Just before serving, mix sharp Cheddar cheese into grits until melted and grits are creamy and light yellow. Serve shrimp mixture over cheese grits.