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Jewish World Review
May 31, 2007
/ 14 Sivan, 5767
Fish, friends and fun
By Joe Stumpe
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) If the grease is poppin', don't bother knockin'.
Chances are, we're out back frying up another batch of fish for friends. So just come on around.
Old-fashioned fish fries are definitely casual outdoor affairs, perfect for serving during warm-weather occasions.
For one thing, the combination of fish and hot oil can leave a house smelling like a fast-food restaurant the morning after.
But even more importantly, a backyard, deck or patio provides the perfect setting for this most laid-back of affairs. Think Jimmy Buffett, without the ocean.
When everything is right, your guests will be fighting over the fish as it comes out of the fryer, blowing on it between bites to avoid burning their tongues and rewarding your efforts with big greasy smiles.
To produce a scene something like this, keep these pointers in mind:
The best fish for deep-frying are mild, white, skinless, boneless fillets. Think pollock, tilapia, or flounder rather than salmon or tuna. You'll probably spend between $3 and $5 a pound for it, although you can sometimes find it on special. Don't be afraid to look in the freezer case as long as you have time to thaw it slowly in the refrigerator.
There are basically two ways to fry fish_battered or breaded. Batters are combinations of flour, eggs, seasonings and liquid (often beer) that produce a crunchy, golden-brown crust.
Breadings are dry mixtures of cornmeal, flour and spices that lightly coat the fish.
Although batters are messier and require a little more work, neither approach is complicated. Consider offering your guests some of each kind.
The vegetable oil (or shortening) needs to be hot enough that the batter or breading fries quickly, without absorbing too much oil, but not so hot that it burns before the fish cooks.
Many recipes call for heating the oil to 350-375 degrees. If not using a thermometer, heat the oil until it bubbles and pops a little when the fish is placed in it. When the fish looks golden brown, remove a piece and taste it. If it isn't done, it probably won't kill you. Put it back in the oil.
After the oil reaches the proper temperature, you may need to reduce the heat source to keep it there.
Cooking time will depend on the size and shape of the fish filets, and how many you cook at once. Three to five minutes is average; the fillets should be turned once while cooking.
Fish is best battered or breaded just before frying otherwise it can get gummy or soggy and served piping hot (although we must confess to a weakness for cold leftover fish sandwiches). Unless you have a really big fryer, diners will probably be eating the fish in batches.
So, make your side dishes the kind that can be prepared ahead of time and that guests can serve themselves, as you'll be busy with the fish.
Remember that hot oil is dangerous. Set up the frying station away from your guests and make sure no children get near it. A grease cover - sort of a round mesh lid - will reduce the chances of you getting stung by popping oil.
'BATTERED-UP' FRIED FISH
This recipe makes enough batter to fry up to 10 lbs. of fish. It is best made, up to the point of adding the beaten egg whites, at least an hour in advance. It's also great for making onion rings.
- 4 cups flour
- 4 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 8 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 3 cups beer
- 8 egg whites, beaten until stiff peaks form
- 8 to 10 lbs. boneless white fish fillets
Combine flour, salt, pepper, oil, egg yolks and beer in a large bowl. Let rest at least an hour or up to 12 hours, refrigerated.
Just before frying fish, fold in beaten egg whites.
When ready to fry, heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil in a cast-iron skillet or other suitable fryer.
Dip fish fillets in batter and let excess batter drip off. Place in hot oil, not crowding skillet, and fry until coating is golden brown and fish is done.
Drain on paper towels and serve with ketchup, tartar sauce, hot sauce, malt vinegar and salt.
FRIED FISH VARIATION
Combine 2 pkgs. Cornbread mix, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Dredge fish fillets in mixture and fry as above.
JALAPENO HUSH PUPPIES
- 1 cup corn meal
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon minced onions
- 1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup milk
Mix dry ingredients, onions and jalapenos together. Whisk egg and milk together and combine with dry mixture. Form into balls or finger-size patties and fry in oil used to fry fish until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve.
SWEET AND SOUR COLESLAW
1 head red or green cabbage (2 lbs.), or combination of both, cored and shredded
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
Pepper, to taste
2 carrots, peeled and grated
Toss cabbage with sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt and allow to sit in a colander for at least 1 hour. Whisk oil, lemon juice, poppy seeds, remaining salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in a bowl large enough to hold the salad. Add wilted cabbage and carrots and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Source: "The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook"
BARBECUE 5-BEAN BAKE
1 can pinto beans
1 can black beans
1 can butter beans
1 can northern beans
1 can red beans
1 1/2 cups favorite store-bought barbecue sauce
1 1/2 cups water
Drain the canned beans and combine in a bowl with the barbecue sauce and water.
Pour into a 13x9-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees about 1 hour or until beans are bubbly.
It's not really a party without deviled eggs. The mayo-based sandwich spread in this recipe is the kind that contains pickle relish and other seasonings. It's sold in supermarkets near the regular mayonnaise.
1 dozen hard-cooked eggs
1/2 cup mayo-based sandwich spread
Optional garnish: paprika, sliced olives, pickles or jalapenos, rinsed anchovy filets, shredded cheese, roasted red bell pepper, Peel eggs and slice in half lengthwise. Remove yolks and mash in bowl with sandwich spread. Refill egg halves with yolk mixture. Top with optional garnishes, if desired.
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