Fish Fry …
I went into the grocery store looking for some beef to make chicken fried steaks, but was less than pleased with the offerings. About to walk out, I walked by the fish counter, and saw fish fillets. I inquired as to the species, (I do so love fried catfish), and was told they were whiting… Given my recent experience, with a fish and chips food truck, I am not THAT fond of whiting… The proprietor sensed my reluctance, and chatted with me about the fish, after I explained my hesitance, he offered to fillet some fresh for me.
Now I am a southern boy, and I do love fried fish, I was amazed to see it there, and even more amazed at the price. Needless to say 4 lb of fish left with me, as well as corn meal and all the fixin’s. Guess it’s time to fry up a mess of fish.
Fried fish has always been a southern delight, some of my fondest memories from growing up in Texas are associated with the fish fries the family would enjoy after returning from a all day expedition during a fish run out on either the Lampasses or Cowhouse creeks. But even when we didn’t have time to fish we could always depend on the numerous roadside cafes featuring all the fish and hush puppies you could eat for a dollar.
What I will do is take out a bit of “funk” insurance and soak these in a bit of buttermilk.
Seared Divers “Dry” Scallops
So the great push to “Eat More Fish” is on. Bad thing is the only way I like fish is “Deep Fried”…, not in the top 10 Most healthy ways to cook.
So the hunt for a fish I can eat, and that will be healthy. While examining the wild caught salmon for Madam Bad Wolf, I notice some large “Divers” Scallops, a quick mental review of menus I have seen, and I decided on Seared Scallops for dinner. Little did I know just how easy and simple this would be.
A scallop is a marine bivalve mollusk of the family Pectinidae. Scallops are a cosmopolitan family, found in all of the world’s oceans. Many scallops are highly prized as a food source. The brightly colored, fan-shaped shells of some scallops, with their radiating fluted pattern, are valued by shell collectors and have been used as motifs in art and design.
Scallops are characterized by having two types of meat in one shell: the adductor muscle, called “scallop”, which is white and meaty, and the roe, called “coral”, which is red or white and soft.
Sometimes, markets sell scallops already prepared in the shell, with only the adductor muscle intact. Outside the U.S. the scallop is often sold whole. In Galician cuisine, scallops are baked with bread crumbs, ham, onions, etc.
Scallops that are without any additives are called “dry packed”, while scallops that are treated with sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP) are called “wet packed”. STPP causes the scallops to absorb moisture prior to the freezing process, thereby getting a better price per unit of weight. The freezing process takes about two days.
In Japanese cuisine, scallops may be served in soup or prepared as sashimi or sushi. Dried scallop is known in Cantonese Chinese cuisine as conpoy.
In a sushi bar, hotategai is the traditional scallop on rice, and while kaibashira may be called scallops, it is actually the adductor muscle of any kind of shellfish, e.g. mussels, oysters, or clams.
Scallops have lent their name to the culinary term scalloped, which originally referred to seafood creamed and served hot in the shell (Rombauer 1964). Today it means a creamed casserole dish such as scalloped potatoes, which contains no seafood at all.
To be more specific in choosing scallops, look for a designation of U5 or U10, this link the similar designation in shrimp refers to the number of scallops per pound. The lower the number the larger the scallop. As per “Divers” scallops, the term “diver” does not itself imply a size, but these divers generally pick the largest scallops they can find, so diver scallops tend to be in the 10/30 range. Also diver scallops are more ecological because the divers only pick the bigger, more mature scallops, while leaving the younger ones, which allows the population to replenish; whereas dragging with chains is indiscriminate and sweeps up other shellfish besides just scallops.
In searing scallops, two words are paramount, Heat and speed. One looks for a heavy sear, and a medium rare center, so high heat and a brief exposure.
Oh, Fish Sticks
As previously mentioned, I have been asked to post a few methods for cooking fish, and in the same vein as prior, a visit to another grade school lunch room horror.
Consider strips of an unidentified minced and formed fish, covered with a batter of egg and bread crumbs, deep fried, and served with yet another deep fried fat bomb, (French Fries), slathered with the same extricable sauce, with a side of that kitchen staple, HFCS laden Ketchup.
Do read the labels of the foods you purchase, too many times several of the items in the first 10 ingredients are things only a bio-chemist could love. I know eating healthy is not really budget friendly, but as a prior rant said.. Eat Shit and Die. Seriously see the post about the Standard American Diet, (SAD)
I speak of course, of the “Fish Friday” staple, the fish stick.
Fish fingers, known as fish sticks in North America and by translations of that name in most other languages, are a processed food made using a whitefish, such as cod, haddock or pollock, which has been battered or breaded.
They are commonly available in the frozen food section of supermarkets, and on children’s menus in family-oriented restaurants. They can be baked in the oven, grilled, shallow fried, or deep-fried.
The fish used may be either fillets cut to shape or minced/ground fish reformed to shape. Those made entirely from fillets are generally regarded as the higher quality products and will typically have a prominent sign on the box stating that the fish is 100% fillet. Minced fish is more commonly used in store brand economy products. They may have either batter or breadcrumbs around the outside as casing, although the coating is normally breadcrumbs.
In addition to white fish, fish fingers are sometimes made with salmon. A commercially available variant of fish fingers is “Omega 3″ fish fingers, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
“Minced/ground fish reformed to shape.”, more like a way to use less than prime pieces and bits of fish that were left after the prime fillets were removed. This is just wrong.. With all the people on soap boxes about how omega-3 fatty acids are much more heart healthy and that fish are a natural source of said fatty acids, one is lead to believe that all fish render this benefit. Reality is that not all fish are equal in production of these.
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Salmon Cakes (Croquettes)
As previously mentioned, I have been asked to post a few methods for cooking fish.
Being from the south fish = catfish, and cooking = deep frying, but I have been told that fish must have “fins and scales” so that let’s catfish out, I have also been told that deep frying is “A Bad Thing.”
So one must look back at a school lunch horror, and find a way to make it edible. I speak of course of a dry crumbly, oily, cow pie mixture of unidentifiable fish, and flour awash in a noxious cream sauce, or served with a canned tomato sauce bordering on ketchup with a overbearing dash of sugar to complete a rounded meal usually served to the garbageman’s hogs after being rejected by all but the most starving school children.
A croquette is a small breadcrumbed fried food roll containing, usually as main ingredients, mashed potatoes and/or ground meat (veal, beef, chicken, or turkey), shellfish, fish, cheese, vegetables and mixed with béchamel or brown sauce, and soaked white bread, egg, onion, spices and herbs, wine, milk, beer or any of the combination thereof, sometimes with a filling, e.g. sauteed onions or mushrooms, boiled eggs (Scotch eggs). The croquette is usually shaped into a cylinder, disk or oval shape and then deep-fried. The croquette (from the French croquer, “to crunch”) gained worldwide popularity, both as a delicacy and as a fast food.
“Boardwalk” fish cakes and crab cakes, eaten on the east coast of the United States, are essentially croquettes. They consist, respectively, of chopped fish or crab meat, mixed in a buttery dough which is then breaded and deep-fried.
Another croquette dish popular across much of the American South is salmon croquettes. Any canned fish – usually salmon or mackerel, although canned tuna is also used in some recipes (although the dish is often colloquially referred to as “salmon croquettes” or “salmon patties” regardless of the actual fish used) – is mashed by hand to break up any fish bones and give the fish meat a smoother consistency, then combined with a binder and various seasonings. Seasonings typically include pepper, salt, chopped (sometimes sautéed) onions, garlic, lemon juice, and/or paprika. The binder can be any starch such as flour, cornmeal, matzo meal, ground crackers of any type, even white rice or oatmeal – although these latter variations are not as common, and are mostly limited to the northern U.S. Chopped eggs, parsley, and Parmesan cheese may also be added. The mixture is then shaped into rounded patties for pan- or deep-frying; corn or peanut oil are the most commonly used frying oils in the southern U.S., but canola, safflower, or olive oil are also used, and some recipes call specifically for pan-frying in butter or margarine.
Most recipes call for canned salmon, (a curse upon the makers of this trash in a can), and canned bread crumbs, (more curses to the purveyors of such garbage), liberally bound together by eggs, and if one is MOST fortunate, perhaps some minced onion, and finely chopped herbs.
We can do better.
First of, FRESH COOKED FISH, flaked, Real bread diced, seasoned and toasted to make croutons, then crumbed in a food processor, or smashed in a bag. Mixed with chopped scallions, fresh chopped dill, seasoned liberally with fresh ground pepper, good kosher salt, a splash of fresh squeezed lemon juice to cut the oil taste of the fish and bound together with several fresh eggs. Formed into patties / cake ~ 1/2 ” thick and fried off in a butter and olive oil mix.
Then serve with a nice tarter sauce or remoulade.
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Fish by the inch
Recently I was asked for ideas on cooking fish. I’ve used all the conventional methods including grilling, broiling, poaching, steaming, sautéing, microwaving, en papillotte, planking, and baking (at 400F to 450F). But still have not quite hit the sweet spot.
My usual error is overcooking resulting in rather dry tough fish, when what I am looking for is moist, with an opaque flesh, and a flaky texture.
Until I heard about a method called the Canadian Method, or the 10 minute rule..
This is amazingly simple.
- Prepare the fish for cooking, (split, season, stuff, roll, etc) and measure at the thickest point
- Cook for 10 minutes per inch of thickness, flipping at the halfway mark.
- If the fish is sauced or wrapped in foil add 5 minutes
Notes: This is a guideline, internal temperature of cooked fish should be 145F. ALWAYS test for doness, the flesh should flake with a fork.
Example: A salmon steak 1″ thick should be cooked 5 minutes per side, if it is 1/2″ or less do not flip.
Fish Friday – Tuna
As mother’s day approaches, I search for a meal to please Madam Bad Wolf. She likes fish, but I hate Salmon, she’ll eat catfish, but won’t like it. Maybe a compromise with a GOOD GRADE of tuna.
Tuna is an amazing food with a number of benefits that contribute to a healthy lifestyle. It is rich in Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and has been known to reduce the risk of heart disease, also low in fat and cholesterol making it a great alternative to beef. Not only is tuna a powerhouse of nutrition, it is also one of the most delicious sources of lean protein that you will ever put in your mouth.
Tuna are a group of salt water fish from the family Scombridae, particularly of the genus Thunnus. Tuna are fast swimmers, and some species are capable of speeds of 70 km/h (43 mph). Unlike most fish, which have white flesh, the muscle tissue of tuna ranges from pink to dark red. The red coloration derives from myoglobin, an oxygen-binding molecule, which tuna express in quantities far higher than most other fish. Some larger tuna species, such as bluefin tuna, display some warm-blooded adaptations, and can raise their body temperatures above water temperatures by means of muscular activity. This enables them to survive in cooler waters and to inhabit a wider range of ocean environments than other types of fish.