January 30, 2013

The Maine Ingredient: Give fish an appealing new coat

By BROOKE DOJNY

Who doesn't love the crisp coating on fried seafood that contrasts so beautifully with the smooth white fish within? The preparation appeals to just about everyone, including kids. (Even though they'll probably still request ketchup on the side.)

These two recipes accomplish similar results -- one with traditional pan-frying, the other with high-heat oven baking. Both benefit from such accompaniments as parslied boiled new potatoes or rice pilaf and a green vegetable such as steamed broccoli or spinach.

PAN-FRIED SESAME-CRUSTED FISH FILLETS

Sesame seeds add a subtly nutty flavor and extra crispiness to the crust.

Servings: Four

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cornmeal

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

¾ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons butter

4 fish fillets, about 6 ounces each (choose flounder, sole, catfish or other lean white fish)

1 lemon, cut in wedges

Tartar sauce, if desired

Combine flour, cornmeal, sesame seeds, salt and pepper on a plate. Cut fish into serving-size pieces and dredge lightly in seasoned flour, shaking off excess.

Heat oil and butter in one large or two smaller skillets over medium-high heat. Add fish and cook, regulating heat down to medium if necessary, until crusty brown and fish tests done within, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over and tartar sauce if desired.

OVEN-FRIED FISH FILLETS

The fish used in this preparation needs to be close to half an inch thick in order to cook properly. If the fillets are thinner -- such as sole might be -- sandwich two together before dredging in the coating mixture. Use a shallow metal pan to allow heat to circulate and brown the crust nicely.

Servings: Six

1¼ cups milk

¾ teaspoons liquid hot pepper sauce

1½ cups dry unseasoned bread crumbs

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

6 fish fillets, about ½ inch thick and 6 ounces each (choose flounder, sole, perch or other white fish)

5 tablespoons butter, melted

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Lemon wedges

Tartar sauce, if desired

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Butter a shallow-rimmed baking sheet.

Combine milk and hot pepper sauce in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl or rimmed plate, combine bread crumbs, salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne. Dip each fillet in milk mixture, then dredge in the seasoned crumbs, shaking off excess.

Place on prepared baking pan. Combine butter and lemon juice and drizzle evenly over fish.

Bake in top half of preheated oven until outside crust is an attractive golden brown and fish tests done within, 7 to 9 minutes.

Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over and tartar sauce if desired.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently "Lobster!" (Storey, 2012). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

facebook.com/brookedojny

 

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