Monday, August 30, 2010

Fish Bites, Remoulade and Roadhouse Dives: this is Hatteras

Grouper Bites with Spicy Remoulade Hatteras Island, N.C.
Hatteras Island, North Carolina is its own kinda vacation spot. If you've got a big-ass truck, are addicted to saltwater fishing, divey food joints, spectacular sunsets, and prefer to spend the majority of your time sans shoes, shirt or make-up, you need to come here. If you're looking for crowded beaches with lots of nightlife, frozen seafood buffets, dolphin watch tours, water parks and high rise hotels, this ain't your place.

To give this proper perspective, nightlife in Hatteras pretty much consists of the moon-- staring at the moon, commenting on the tides, and watching out for shooting stars, all while imbibing whatever adult beverages you've got stashed in the fridge. While there are a few spots for late-night evening activities, there's not a single high-rise hotel on the entire island, and you can dolphin-watch for free from any nearby beach, which also doubles as its own natural water park, where fishing, kayaking or sleeping the day away is a must. It's quiet here, blissfully so, and it's the kind of place where the sounds of lapping waves, calling gulls and crickets lull you off to sleep instead of honking horns, drunken street brawls or worse, some teenagers' radio blasting The Jonas Brothers off in the distance.

All of this Hatteras magic takes place, of course, after you've spent the last hour or two staring at one of these:
Evening sunset on Canadian Hole, Hatteras Island
When it comes to eats, stash your shoes, slip on your flip flops and head to the nearest hole-in-the-wall such as Pop's Raw Bar & Restaurant in Buxton, where vacationers and locals happily mix. Pop's is a no-frills kinda joint where locally caught seafood is served up unadulterated on paper plates alongside plenty of ice cold beer. The bar is nearly always full here and is the perfect spot to share a tall fish tale or a bit of local gossip.
While the fact that Pop's defines what is so appealing about Hatteras Island (i.e. the kick off your shoes and stay a while roadhouse vibe) this joint also offers up some seriously good food. Since Pop's is a haven for the hardcore angler, you can bet they serve only the freshest catch. During the summer months, you're looking at steamed, spiced shrimp with drawn butter (the best we had on the island), grouper bites with an array of dipping sauces (from homemade tartar to cocktail) fried clam, oyster and crab cake sandwiches, all served with a big pile of freshly grated slaw, French fries and oniony hush puppies. Oh yeah, and really, really cold beer.

If you're not catching anything yourself and are craving a mess of fresh seafood, grab some to go and head back at your rental. For super-fresh local-caught fish, shrimp, clams etc...I must recommend Risky Business Seafood at Oden's Dock in Hatteras where you can get your shrimp steamed and spiced to order, a couple of their hand pressed crab cakes, or if you come after 4pm, perhaps some tuna, Wahoo, Red Drum or Mahi straight off the boats.
Guys cleaning Mahi
When it comes to enjoying a little taste of Hatteras at home, try your hand at making a batch of fish bites with tartar or spicy remoulade. Feel free to use my recipe for cornmeal dusted flounder and instead of frying up your fish as a large filet cut it into smaller bite-size chunks and shallow fry those. Add a homemade tartar or remoulade dipping sauce (see recipe below) along with a couple squeezes if lemon and you are good to go. Finally, grab a cold one, kick back and share your latest tall fish tale while starting at the moon, the stars or if you're lucky enough, a peaceful orange sunset.

Kickin’ Remoulade Dipping Sauce
Serve this sassy dipping sauce with a big pile of fish bites. While most any chunky, flaky white fish will do, I recommend using either Rockfish, Mahi, Grouper or Flounder.

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
3 tablespoons minced sweet pickle
1 tablespoon minced parsley, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons minced red onion 
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 minced green onion, both white and green parts
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Salt and Pepper
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Old Bay, to taste
Tabasco sauce, to taste

Mix all of your ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Top with additional minced parsley.  Best made a day ahead. Serve with fish bites or any fried seafood.

Makes approximately 1 cup of dipping sauce.

©2010 Fatback and Foie Gras. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission
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  1. Enjoyed--that's our bike in your picture of Pops! We were there for 2 weeks 8-14-8-28. We were at Pop's a lot, always our favorite place! I'm sure we probably seen you there.

    Deb & John

  2. Love the description. Perfect describes Hatteras. And I can't wait to try the sauce!

  3. That's so funny that was your bike! We were inside noshing fried shrimp and fish sammies :) Probably sitting next to you at the bar!

  4. Hatteras is glorious! What wonderful memories you've brought back to life. I think I need to paint those fish bites!


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