Outdoor appétit: Blackened Snakehead with Piña Colada Salsa

Get “invasive” with Executive Chef Chad Wells of Alewife in Baltimore and his original recipe for Maryland’s “most wanted” fish, the snakehead. This predator, which is invading the waters of our fair State, is a delicacy in Chinese and Thai recipes. Snakeheads are native to Asia and Africa, but here in Maryland, they are destructive to the ecosystem and the best way to beat ‘em is to eat ‘em. Diners who have tried them swear they are a surprisingly delicious treat!

Outdoor appétit: Blackened Snakehead with Piña Colada Salsa

Blackened Snakehead with Piña Colada Salsa

Blackening seasoning

In a mixing bowl combine the following:
1 1/2 tablespoon paprika
3/4 tablespoon granulated garlic (or 1
tablespoon garlic powder)
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
This spice works great with all fish, game and poultry for blackening and smoking.
It can also be stored for quite some time.

Piña Colada Salsa

1 pineapple
1 can cream of coconut
1/2 of a bunch of cilantro
1 Habañero pepper (optional)
Peel the pineapple and discard the skin. Slice the pineapple length-wise into slices about 1/4 inch thick.Dice the pineapple into 1/4 inch squares.Place pineapple squares into a mixing bowl.
Remove leaves from cilantro and roughly chop, then add them to the mixing bowl with the pineapple squares.
In a separate bowl add the cream of coconut and stir with a fork until smooth, it should be white in color. Set bowl aside Combine 6 tablespoons of the cream of coconut to the pineapple cilantro mixture If you’d like it spicy, add 1 diced Habañero pepper. Place salsa in refrigerator.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1 snakehead filet skinned and cut into 4 pieces.
With a dry towel pat the flesh to remove excess moisture. Coat each piece of fish on one side with a generous amount of blackening seasoning. Place a tablespoon of cooking oil into a cast iron skillet or sauté pan and place over high heat. Once the pan has heated (you’ll know its hot when the oil is about to smoke and slides freely across the pan). Place each piece of fish (seasoned side down) on the pan and press gently with a spatula.
Allow the fish to sear for approximately 3 minutes.
Gently turn fish over and sear for 1 minute. Place the fish in the oven and cook until desired temperature is reached (about 3-5 minutes depending on the thickness of the filet).

To plate

Slice avocado and place on a plate, gently season the avocado with kosher salt Place Piña Colada Salsa on the center of the plate then put blackened snakehead on top of the Piña Colada Salsa Garnish with roasted red pepper and strawberries

“This recipe should work great with most fish,” says Chef Wells. “I have used it in the past with scallops and shrimp as well. You can also mix Maryland crab meat with the salsa and it goes great with plantain chips or even tortillas.”

Alewife, 21 N Eutaw Street,
Baltimore, MD 21201
410 545-5112

Win prizes for snakehead demise

In an effort to stop the spread of the invasive snakehead fish Maryland DNR, the Potomac River Fisheries Commission and the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service are offering prizes for anglers who catch, kill and enter photos of the snakeheads through the Angler’s Log website.

Through December 31, 2011, anyone who catches a Northern snakehead with a hook-and-line and posts the catch, including a photo of the dead fish on DNR’s Angler’s Log, will be entered into a year-end drawing.

Anglers should report the location of their snakehead catch as specifically as possible and include a ruler or another measuring device in the photo to indicate the size of the fish.

Prizes include a $200 rod and tackle package, a Maryland State Park Passport and a 2012 Potomac River fishing license. The park passport allows unlimited dayuse entry for up to 10 people in a vehicle, unlimited boat launching at all State Park facilities and a 10 percent discount on State-operated concessions and boat rentals.

The Northern snakehead is a non-native fish species that was illegally introduced to the Potomac River, moved to its tributaries and was recently found in the Rhode River. As top predators, their negative impacts to the ecosystem and other important recreational and commercially valued fisheries could be significant.