Pan-fried fish uses just a thin layer of hot oil in a skillet and a light flour and/or cornmeal coating on the fish instead of a batter. This is a little simpler, less messy and more healthful than deep-frying. Four servings requires 1 pound of fillets.
Rinse the fillets and pat dry with paper towels. In a shallow dish combine one beaten egg with 2 tablespoons water or milk. This wet mixture will help the coating stick to the fish.
In another shallow dish combine 2/3 cup cornmeal or fine dry bread crumbs with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a dash ground black pepper. I prefer to use cornmeal and flour in equal proportions. You may substitute 1-1/3 cups crushed potato chips or saltine crackers for the cornmeal, omitting the salt. This dry mixture creates a crunchy coating on the fish when pan-fried.
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. for keeping fillets warm while cooking the remainder of fillets. To a large heavy skillet add 1/4 inch vegetable oil or lard. Heat. Dip each fillet first into the egg mixture, coating each side. Next place each fillet in the cornmeal mixture and press gently to help the mixture adhere to the fish. Treat both sides of the fish.
Add fillets in a single layer to the hot oil. The oil should be hot enough that it sizzles when you add the fish. (I shoot for 350-375 degrees.) Fry the fish until golden on the bottom -about 3 to 4 minutes – flip the fish with a large spatula using a fork to steady the fillets. Cook the second side until golden and the fish begins to flake when tested with a fork (3 to 4 minutes more).
For deep-fried fish, dip pieces of fish in a beer batter or several coatings of egg and seasoned flour before frying to a crisp golden brown in a 3-quart heavy saucepan or deep-fat fryer. Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil to 375 degrees F.
In a shallow dish add 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and set it aside. For the batter, in a medium bowl add 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup beer, one egg, and 1/4 teaspoon each of baking powder, salt, and ground black pepper. Use a whisk to beat the batter until smooth.
Dip fish pieces into the flour, turning to coat all sides, and shake off excess flour. The flour will help the batter to stick to the fish. Follow the above directions to fry the fish.
For a big money savings in oil (by re-using) use a Cajun Cooker by RV Works (Google rv works cajun fryers).
Pan-Fried Crappie with Peppers and Pecans
1 pound crappie fillets
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 of red sweet pepper, cut in strips
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Juice from one small lime
Green onions, sliced (optional)
Use the directions for pan-fried fish (above)using use half the butter. After fish are cooked, wipe out your skillet. Melt remaining butter over medium heat in the skillet. Stir in brown sugar until dissolved. Stir in pecans, sweet pepper and cayenne. Cook and stir over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until pecans are lightly toasted and pepper strips are just tender. Remove from heat. Stir in lime juice. Spoon pecan mixture over the warm crappie fillets. If desired, top with green onions. Yowza, that’s good eatin’!
Buttermilk Batter Onion Rings I always fry thinly sliced potatoes after cooking fish and I frequently cook up some onion rings too.
1 large onion (about a pound)
1 cup buttermilk pancake mix
1 cup buttermilk
Cut onion into one inch slices and separate into rings. Spread pancake mix on waxed paper or place in paper bag. In medium bowl, beat buttermilk and egg with fork until smooth. Dip in a few onion rings at a time into buttermilk mixture, then coat thoroughly with pancake mix. Let stand on rack until dry, about 2 hours.
In deep fryer or saucepan, heat oil (2 to 3 inches deep) to 375 degrees. Fry a few rings at a time, turning over one or two times, until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Southern Beans and Rice
1 1/4 pounds dried pinto beans
7 cups water
1 small ham hock
1 chopped medium onion
2 minced cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 thickly sliced pound ring smoked beef and pork sausage
10-ounce undrained can tomatoes with green chilies
1/2 cup uncooked regular rice
Sort and wash beans. Combine beans, water, ham hock, onion, garlic, and salt in a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook 45 minutes. Add sausage, tomatoes with green chilies, and rice. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove ham hock, shred ham from bone with a fork, and return ham to bean mixture.