As the old adage states, the dogwoods are blooming, so the crappie are biting. With that, spring is a great time to fill a cooler full of slabs. With a statewide limit of 30 crappie, a few good days of spring fishing can yield many meals for friends and family. While crappie is most often fried, there is no law that says it has to be. The mild flavor of crappie makes it a great choice for a variety of dishes. My favorite non-fried crappie dish is Cajun crappie on the half shell.
This dish was inspired from a redfish trip out of Venice, Louisiana. Redfish, a saltwater cousin of the freshwater drum, is highly sought as a sportfish as well as a delicious option for the table. Redfish on the half shell is a staple in Cajun cooking. “Half shell” refers to a filet where the ribs have been removed, but the meat is still attached to the skin and scales. Substituting crappie for the redfish not only adds a Natural State twist to a classic dish, but it also offers a way to enjoy a lighter-flavored approach to your fishing success.
4 large crappie filets (skin and scales attached)
1 stick of melted butter
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Louisiana style hot sauce
2 tablespoon cajun seasoning
Preheat grill or smoker to 225 degrees. Place coals to one side to use indirect cooking method. Pat filets dry and place skin down on a non-metallic tray. Sprinkle ¼ tablespoon of Cajun seasoning on each filet. Place filets on grill or smoker, skin side down, away from coals and cover grill for 10 minutes. While the filets are cooking, combine melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and remaining Cajun seasoning.
After 10 minutes, baste each filet with the butter sauce, let cook 5 more minutes. Baste and cover again. When fish is white and flaky (about 20 to 30 minutes) pull off the grill and baste with the butter sauce one more time. Serve with rice and grilled vegetables.