Summer isn't just about the harvest from the garden. It's also about the fresh catch
of the day!
Did you miss me last week? LOL. I've been working crazy hours at the store and finished up a 41.5-hour week to fill in for someone on vacation. The new kid we hired (22-years-old) only lasted two weeks! It was too much for him. Honestly. Since he quit, I now get to take over his shift for another 40-hour week! Sheesh. My kitchen's a mess. I come home and flop. LOL...
When I work long hours like this, I look for recipes that cook up relatively fast and easy. Fish is one such item. Working in a grocery store, I get the scuttle butt of what's on sale, fresh and new. This ocean perch was such an item . . .
For most of my life, Lake Michigan was my playground. And a small pond in the woods behind my house. Jones' Pond was an easy mile walk down a well-worn path. It was one of my favorite places. We fished it in the summer. Skated it in the winter. It was home to "suicide hill," a treacherous sled path that steered itself onto the frozen ice below. There were other near-by watering holes, too. Schilling's Swamp. Plum Creek.
Of course, where's there's water, there's fish. And the fresher the fish, the better the meal. Summer isn't just about garden produce. It's about the freshest catch of the day, too.
For this recipe, I used fresh ocean perch that were not frozen. I had Brad, my fish monger, choose about one pound of the smallest filets.
When coating a fish as delicate as perch, it's important to use crumbs that are as fine as possible. Keep the egg wash light, too. I grew up with "buttered perch." For a summer treat, I finely chopped some fresh tarragon which seasoned the butter. Tarragon, lemon, salt and perch. It's a great combination for a great summer meal.
- 1 lb. fresh perch filets
- 2 eggs
- Milk or cream
- Self-rising flour
- Bread crumbs, the finer the better
- Tabasco sauce (optional)
- 1/4 cup butter
- Olive oil
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon finely minced tarragon
- Kosher salt
- Oil for frying, about two cups for a 10 - 12 inch skillet.
First, make the butter. Add the minced tarragon to the butter and microwave until melted. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Stir. Set aside.
Rinse, drain and pay dry the fish.
Gently coat with flour. Set aside.
Crack two eggs into a bowl. With a hand-held beater, gently whisk for about two minutes until thick and bubbly. This is important.
This is what a hand-helf beater looks like.
Add a bit of Tabasco to the egg mixture. I generally use about 6-12 drops or so. Add 1 tablespoon of milk or cream to the mixture and whisk until blended.
Coat each floured filet into the egg mixture then gently coat with the bread crumbs. Place on a plate.
Keep the fish coating light.
Heat about 2 cups of oil in a cast-iron skillet or heavy pan. When it begins to shimmer a bit, it's ready. If in doubt, put in a crust of bread or two. If it browns too quickly, lower heat. This is probably the trickiest part of frying fish. If in doubt, you could always use a thermometer that measures the heat for you.
Gently slide in a few filets skin side up! The oil will begin to bubble immediately. Cook on each side for about two minutes or so. My filets were small, so 3-4 minutes total did the trick. The first time you flip the fish, moisture will be released and the oil will splatter. Once the flesh begins to crack, it's done. You will constantly have to adjust the heat as you cook and re-add fish.
Nicely browned. Notice how the fish has "cracked." An indication it's done.
Spoon the tarragon butter sauce over the fish. Sprinkle liberally with Kosher salt and a squeeze of lemon.
Fresh fish will not smell up your kitchen. Bad fish will.
After coating my fish with bread crumbs, I froze three filets for later use.
Notes: I use White Lily Self-Rising Flour. It's finer in texture than regular flour. Cake flour is a good substitute. Regular flour is fine, just be sure shake off the excess. I generally use corn oil or peanut oil, about two cups for a 10-inch skillet.