Crappie from the Oven

            Scampi, or Langoustines or Norway lobsters (Nephrops norvegicus) are roughly the size of a large crayfish and fished from silty bottom regions of the open Atlantic Ocean and parts of the Mediterranean. The fleshy tail of the Norway lobster is closer in both taste and texture to lobster and crayfish than prawn or shrimp.

            Scampi is the Italian plural of scampo, Nephrops norvegicus. In English, scampi is used as singular, plural, or uncountable. Overfishing made scampi scarce and because of scarcity Italy, Greece, United Kingdom and Spain would often substitute shrimp in scampi.

In the United States, shrimp scampi is the menu name for shrimp in Italian-American cuisine. Scampi by itself is a dish of Norway lobsters served in garlic butter and dry white wine, served either with bread, bread crumbs or over pasta or rice, although sometimes served just shrimp alone. The word shrimp scampi is construed as a style of preparation and with variants such as chicken scampi, lobster scampi, scallop scampi and fish scampi. In the United States, shrimps are readily available but not scampi, so the early immigrants substituted shrimp in the scampi style they remembered from their home country.

Using garlic, butter and bread crumbs, and a little wine if you like, we’re making crappie scampi; scampi as a style of preparation.

 

Crappie Scampi

Crappie fillets, enough to cover 2-quart casserole dish with no overlap

1/4 cup dry white wine (optional – sauvignon blanc goes well with garlic)

Juice of 1 or 2 crushed garlic cloves

1/2 stick melted butter

Bread crumbs

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Spray non-stick oil on casserole dish and spread fillets evenly. Add wine and drizzle crushed garlic juice on fish through a garlic press. Sprinkle bread crumbs on fish, season with salt and pepper. Broil until slightly browned.

 

 

Tip: If you soak any fish in vinegar and water for a few minutes before cooking, it will be flakier and have a better flavor.

 

Baked Cajun Crappie

8 crappie fillets

1 stick butter

Salt & pepper to taste

Cajun seasoning to taste

4 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

Coat the bottom of an oven proof pan with butter. Place crappie fillets in pan, pour melted butter over the crappies and sprinkle each filet with Cajun seasoning and the chopped parsley. Bake at 400 degrees F. until the fish are done, turning half way through the 20 minutes in the oven. When you remove the crappies from the oven, sprinkle them liberally with lemon juice. Serves 4.

 

Cajun Seasoning

3/4 cup of salt

1/4 cup cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons onion powder

2 tablespoons ground white pepper

2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

 

Shake the ingredients together in a sealed bag. Taste-test your seasoning to tell whether you want to add more of an ingredient or add another. Save the plastic containers the spices came in to store your Cajun seasoning. Re-label the containers.

 

 

Tip: Don’t crowd your pans. Food that’s crowded into a cast-iron skillet or cooking sheet gets steamed and soggy instead of crisp.

 

Crispy Crappie

2 pounds crappie fillets

2 teaspoons of garlic salt

1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder

2 cup Ritz crackers, finely crushed

1 egg

1/2 cup beer

Canola oil

 

Thoroughly mix garlic salt and onion powder. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon over crappie fillets. Mix remaining garlic-onion powder seasoning into crushed cracker crumbs. Make wash by beating egg into the beer. Dip fish fillets in wash and then into cracker crumbs to coat fillets. Heat 1/4- inch of oil to 375 degrees F. one side, turn and fry on other side until golden brown or flakes with a fork.