I first thought this dish was from Thailand upon first glancing its name. It turns out that this specialty is based on a staple of Cajun cuisine from Louisiana.
Prior to my April 2022 trip to Bonifacio Global City, I looked up several restaurants where I could have lunch on the fly. Pier at Clawdaddy’s, conveniently located at the Bonifacio High Street, was one such joint. This establishment serves up Cajun plates alongside different kinds of seafood specialties, but does not have alcohol on the menu. Booze is available at its sister bar, Murray’s New Orleans Jazz Kitchen, just right beside it.
I checked out the rather outdated menu for Pier at Clawdaddy’s on Zomato, and found one item on the mains that piqued my curiosity. I set my sights on the Fish Pontchartrain (P399) even though I originally intended to order Baked Salmon Rice.
The old menu on Zomato describes the Fish Pontchartrain as such:
“Deep fried battered white cobbler, shrimp etouffee, parsley walnut rice, crispy spinach, [and] red beet puree.”
The big day came, and I paid Pier at Clawdaddy’s a visit after the lunch hour passed. As I mentioned earlier, the menu on Zomato was outdated and the latest menu was a pared-down version. I asked about the main ingredient of the Fish Pontchartrain, and was told that it still uses freshwater cobbler (Tandanus bostocki). The waiter even described it as having the same texture as cream dory – but without the offensive ammonia smell.
Upon further research, I found that the dish’s name originates from Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana. The Pontchartrain sauce can be considered as a kind of etouffee – a dish featuring a rich, flavorful sauce with butter and cream mixed with seafood such as crawfish and shrimp.
The Cajun holy trinity of onion, celery, and bell pepper is sauteed in butter, after which flour is added and stirred to make a roux. Cream, spices and seasonings are then added in and the mixture is allowed to thicken. The resulting etouffee is then served over rice.
The Fish Pontchartrain then arrived piping hot, with the dish’s aroma whetting my appetite. Chunks of freshwater cobbler meat were breaded and deep-fried, with the eponymous sauce poured over them. While it did not have the red beet puree and parsley walnut rice, everything sat on a bed of Cajun rice that also had onions and peppers.
The dirty rice cradled the fish chunks, which were “smothered” in Pontchartrain sauce that contained mushrooms and shrimps. The sauce had specks of the holy trinity used to flavor it, and crispy spinach leaves topped off the entire mélange.
I took a bite of the cobbler fish with and without the sauce. True enough, the fish had the consistency of cream dory but did not have the familiar smell of ammonia or bleach. It had minimal taste on its own, so the presence of the sauce livened it up.
The etouffee sauce also lived up to its reputed richness. It jived well with the Cajun rice; one could even pair the sauce with the rice alone and still enjoy the meal. While I appreciated the button mushrooms added in, the only gripe I have is the lack of shrimp in the sauce. I only counted around two or three shelled and deveined shrimps in it!
I managed to finish my meal and clean out the plate, leaving Pier at Clawdaddy’s rather satisfied. Good thing I ordered the joint’s Fresh Lemonade (P120) – made with actual lemons – to accompany my lunch. The lemonade cut through the savory explosion and refreshed my palate with the right amount of sweetness. When the actual lemonade ran out, I simply added the free water that came with my meal – giving me a bonus glass of fat-reducing lemon water.
I hope you enjoyed my take on the Fish Pontchartrain! How about you; have you tried similar Cajun specialties before? Share it in the comment section below!
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Until the next post, bon appetit!
Pier at Clawdaddy’s
B6, Bonifacio High Street,
Bonifacio Global City,
Taguig City 1634