I know there are those of you who have no truck with frying up your fish and maybe even your potatoes, too. Occasionally, when feeling terribly slim or outrageously defiant, I do the same. Like here:
Slim I’m not feeling right now (though I’d go as far as slim – mer), though it wouldn’t take much to make me any kind of defiant:
I’m well fed. Happily wined and dined, I’d say.
Right. My FRIDAY FISH post then coincides with the same need many of us have. To eat well, be full, and not have ingested 2,000 extra calories doing it. In other words, fried fish isn’t on my menu right now, though after grocery shopping for this meal I desperately wanted catfish nuggets.
My original plan–best laid plans– was to make a stab at a new Asian-style tuna dish similar to my Grilled Asian-Style Tuna with Broccoli Slaw…
…but with some sort of ginger-garlic green beans. The store had other ideas. No tuna except for some very small oddly colored cry-o-vacked frozen specimens. While I have nothing against frozen fish –especially given I live in a land-locked state — I just wasn’t into these little babies. Cookbooks with lines such as, “Ask your fishmonger for ______” ran through my head and I was making rather nasty faces by this time. Other choices were: shrimp, tilapia, salmon and then, wait! There was catfish. Time to change the meal.
I love catfish –Dave doesn’t– and was raised on its bottom-feeder, muddy water taste. I could make down and dirty catfish nuggets, though I didn’t really know how. I can make a lot of things, but nuggets isn’t on my list. I have, in my time, baked frozen nuggets for kids at home or church, but no, I’m not any kind of a nuggeter at heart. And I typically get my catfish fix in a restaurant these days because how many of us actually fry fish in our kitchens? If you’re in the mid-west, you have Friday Fishfry at every corner bar this time of year. Maybe even all you can eat if you’re lucky like at the Groveland Tap:
If you were raised in the mid-west by a southern-born father, as I was, you had him to fry the best of the best right there at home. Including catfish.
Truth in blogging: I have a secret desire for fried chicken tenders dipped in ranch dressing fulfilled by the occasional stealthy trip to the grocery deli. Well, I did until they began posting the calorie count on those addictive little gems. I now buy one just once in a great while and savor it. Insert sigh here.
I like nothing better than a small (or large) culinary challenge, so was excited to have a bit of a quandary about how to make this all happen and have it happen in a healthy way to boot. And as I’m about to spend four days tasting wine and eating out in Napa, it’s best to keep my nose to the ground and skip a few extra calories this week so I can enjoy myself and still zip my jeans come Monday. If you’re in a similar spot — or just need fish this Friday while you observe Lent — try this:
OVEN CATFISH NUGGETS AND POTATO WEDGES
The two dishes are baked at the same time to make things easy. First in are the potato wedges, followed by the fish after about 15 minutes. If potatoes are done early, remove to stovetop and cover loosely with foil until the fish is cooked through and crispy. Do make sure the potatoes are out of the oven if you choose to broil the fish for the last minute.
- Cooking spray
- 3 large russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 4-6 wedges each
- Canola oil
- Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, paprika
- 1/2 cup unbleached, all purpose flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- Ground cayenne
- 1 1/2 pounds catfish fillets, rinsed, dried with paper towels, and cut into 1 – 2-inch pieces*
PREHEAT OVEN/PREP RACKS & PANS: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Position oven racks in upper and lower third of oven. Place a baking rack in a rimmed sheet pan and spray thoroughly. Set aside. Line another rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil; spray.
PREP AND ROAST POTATOES: Toss potatoes with 2 tablespoons canola oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon paprika. Arrange evenly on the parchment or foil-lined baking sheet and bake on the lower rack for about 30 minutes or until crispy, turning over half-way through cooking time.
PREP/BAKE FISH (You have about 15 minutes for prep as potatoes need a head start cooking.) Meanwhile, add the flour, eggs, and Panko each to three separate shallow bowls. Season each bowl with an 1/8th teaspoon each of salt and pepper; add a pinch of cayenne to the flour mixture.
Dredge each piece of fish in the flour, dip into the beaten egg, then coat with the Panko bread crumbs. Place coated fish on prepared rack. Dot/drizzle each piece with a tiny bit of canola oil.
Bake for 7 minutes on upper rack, remove from oven and turn the fish pieces over. Dot other side with a bit of oil. Roast for another 7 minutes or until done through. If potatoes haven’t been taken out of the oven, remove them now.
OPTIONAL: Turn oven to BROIL and broil fish briefly for a minute or so to create a crispier crust, watching carefully. Door should be partially open for broiling.
SERVE FISH AND POTATOES HOT with tartar sauce and coleslaw. (Recipes below.)
*If your fish fillets have the thinner tail portions, trim them off and cook them separately in a hot stovetop pan coated with a good slick of oil or in the oven using the same method as the nuggets. Use the thick part of the fillets for the nuggets.
Cook’s Note: FDA recommended temperature for cooked fish is 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Whisk together 1/2 cup mayonnaise with a splash each (begin with a teaspoon) of white vinegar and ketchup. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper along with 2 tablespoons minced dill pickle and about 1 teaspoon grated or finely minced red onion. Whisk in a couple of drops of hot sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings, including all ingredients except mayonnaise.
Everyone has their own idea about coleslaw. How sweet. How hot. How not. If you’re not sure, begin with smaller amounts of vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, etc., and add until your slaw fits your tastes. The biggest thing is to even out the vinegar and sugar. I like slaw in many ways; this is one of them and, you’ll see, isn’t the least bit gloppy.
- 1 1/4 pounds cabbage, shredded (about 5 cups)
- 1/2 medium tart apple, unpeeled, grated
- 2 teaspoons red onion, finely minced or grated
- 1 small carrot, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper–or more/less to taste
- Pinch crushed red pepper–or more/less to taste
- 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar (not white wine vinegar)–or more/less to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar– or more/less to taste
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
Using your clean hands, toss together the cabbage, apple, onion, and carrot. Sprinkle on the salt, pepper, and fresh ground pepper; toss again. Sprinkle on the white vinegar; toss again. Sprinkle on sugar; toss again. Stir in the mayonnaise. Continue to toss, perhaps with salad tongs or two large spoons. Taste and adjust seasonings, including vinegar and sugar. Serve immediately or chill, well-covered, for several hours or overnight, and serve cold.
Wine: Go with a beer this time. English Style Pale Ale is sounding lovely. Others will be drinking a pitcher of sweet tea, though it hurts my teeth just to write that.
IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU MIGHT LIKE MY...
Peace, friends. I’m glad you’re spending more time at the table. Cook at home for health, wealth, and happiness.
I’ll be back next week with tales of Napa, some better photos than the one above, and hopefully still fitting in my jeans.