AS IN 'FISH'
I like fish. And, I have yet to find a bad one. Like Daddy always said about girls, "They're all good." And, most fish are edible. Carp are a delicacy in Europe and the Far East. Mudfish (Grindle to you Southern folks) have firm white flesh and, if the water they come from is not stagnant, a very good flavor. In Korea and Viet Nam, I saw some strange fish cooked in some strange ways. All I tried were surprisingly good. However, the best rule I found was, "If you have to ask what it is, you don't want it." Sort of like the sign at Scroungy Harry's Grill, "You can eat dirt cheap here." And, sometimes you did.
The best fish are those that bite my lure. The 'next best' are those done to a golden brown and served on a platter with a couple of lemon wedges on the side. Here are some of those 'next best'. There some other fish recipes that follow that are done on the grill and on a smoker. They are particularly appropriate if fried foods are your 'no-no'.
YOUR BASIC SOUTHERN FISH FRY
2 cups yellow or white corn meal 1 tblsp garlic salt
1 tsp black pepper peanut oil, 2-3 inches deep
2 tblsp McCormick's Lemon Pepper Seasoning
Mix the meal and seasonings together in a large roasting pan or paper sack. Use whole fish that weight up to 3/4 pound, or less, when cleaned. Or, use fillets (which may be cut into fishstick-size pieces, if you like). Be sure the fish is reasonably dry by draining on a paper towel (or yesterday's sports section). Drop into the corn meal mixture and cover completely. Remove, shake off the excess meal and set on a piece of newspaper for 15 minutes (this helps the meal stick and not immediately come off in the cooking oil). Heat the oil to 375 degrees (F) in a cast iron cooker (I use a high-sided Dutch oven). Add the fish, but don't crowd the skillet. Cook only a few pieces of fish at a time to assure the grease stays hot and the fish don't absorb the grease. Cook, turning occasionally, until the fish starts to turn golden brown and float. Do not overcook. You want it to be firm and somewhat crisp, but not a burned 'crispy critter'. Remove and drain on a wire rack. Serve with fresh lemon wedges, hushpuppies, and a bunch of napkins (Fish are supposed to be eaten with the fingers; forks are SO uncivilized).
THE SEVERITY OF THE ITCH IS PROPORTIONAL TO THE REACH.
AS IN 'FISH'
LOU'S FAVORITE FISH
My buddy, Lou, is not lazy. He is just 'clean-up impaired'. He loves fish in any way, shape or form. I believe he could eat them seven days a week. BUT, he hates like the dickens to cook them himself because he has to clean up afterwards. Rather than having him ask to borrow five bucks, Lou usually asks if I have any leftover fish in the refrigerator.
Having done a lot of camping and shore lunches in my time, I have a few quick and easy ways to do fish. When I showed the following method to Lou, I thought I saw a tear come to his eye.
This is a great way to do fish and eliminate clean up. The fish taste excellent and are prepared in a very healthy way (for you but, unfortunately, not the fish). Cleaning the fish is simple (and very, very little mess). Cooking, as well as eating, them requires virtually no clean up. Sounds fishy? Read on.
- Fish fillets with the skin and scales left on
- McCormick's Lemon Pepper seasoning (dry) or Lowry's Lemon Pepper Marinate (liquid)
- A touch of salt
- Gas grill
- A water-soaked handful of apple (or other fruit) wood chips
- A small piece of heavy aluminum foil to hold the wood chips
The `secret' to this method is leaving the skin and scales on the outside of the fillet. (If there are no scales on your fish, you must lay them on a piece of lightly buttered foil.) As Southern boys, Lou and I prefer to use Crappie, large Bluegills or small bass for this cooking. After filleting, soak the fish in sweet milk for a few hours (removes any oils and fishy taste). Put the wet wood chips on the foil and lay on the lava rock above the flame or on the charcoal. Drain the fish well and place on the grill, skin-side down. Pour on some melted butter and sprinkle each fillet with the lemon pepper; or, marinate for 10 minutes in the liquid lemon pepper seasoning (scoring the flesh a few times with a sharp knife will allow the butter and seasonings to penetrate better). Cook on low-to-medium heat for 10-15 minutes and check the fish. It is done when the meat flakes easily with a fork. Remove and enjoy with a little more butter and some lemon juice. Once the fish has cooled, you can eat it directly out of your hand with no muss or fuss. The heat will have dried the skin and scales and caused them to turn up around the edges of the fillet, creating a `bowl' of fillet meat. And, for you that watch your fat intake, there is no cooking oil to contend with. Leave off the butter and you have even less oil.
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A common question that we get: "Is there somewhere close to get bait and tackle?" This is where we get our bait.
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