Lots of people – I’d say most people – love fried fish. But deep frying is way too messy (and too caloric) for most home cooks, and even “shallow frying” in a half-inch or so of oil spatters the stove and doesn’t always feel all that healthy.

So try this method of “frying” crumb-coated fish fillets in a very hot oven. The slightly spicy crumb-wrapped fish crisps to perfection, and the technique works with virtually all flatfish fillets.

Serve the crispy fish with creamy succotash. The Native American name for corn meant “our life,” or “it sustains us,” reflecting its importance in their diet and culture. Corn and beans were probably the first New World vegetables the colonists ate when they arrived on these shores, and the corn and bean combo the Narragansett Indians called succotash was almost certainly brought to the first Thanksgiving feast.

Back in colonial times, succotash was a year-round dish. There was summer succotash, made from tender fresh corn and shell beans or young string beans, and winter succotash, made with cooked dried corn and dried beans.

Oven-fried fish, succotash … some boiled, parslied new potatoes would complete the plate nicely.

Crispy Oven-Fried Fish Fillets

This method works with most flatfish fillets – flounder, fluke, sole, sand dabs, plaice or any mild, relatively soft-fleshed fillets. If the fillets are ¼-inch thick or less, sandwich two together and dip the “package” into the milk and crumbs. To allow the heat to circulate and brown the fish properly, use a shallow baking pan – with sides no more than about an inch high; a rimmed baking sheet, sometimes called a jelly roll pan, works nicely.

Serves 4

Vegetable oil for pan

½ cup milk

1 cup fine dry bread crumbs

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon crumbled dried oregano

4 flounder or other flatfish fillets, about 6 ounces each, ½-inch thick

3 tablespoons butter, melted

Lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and brush with oil.

Pour milk into a shallow dish. In another dish, stir together the crumbs, salt, pepper, cayenne and oregano.

Dip fish fillets into the milk, then dredge in seasoned crumbs, shaking off the excess. Arrange fish at least 1½ inches apart on the prepared pan and brush or drizzle with the melted butter.

Bake in the center or upper third of the hot oven until the outside crust is golden and the fish is opaque in the thickest part when checked with a small knife, about 12 minutes. Transfer to plates with a large spatula and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

End-of-Season Succotash

This delicious, modern, all-season succotash is usually made with lima beans and a touch of cream, but I like to tweak the neutral vegetables with flavorful shallot and the acidic zing of end-of-season diced tomatoes.

Serves 4 to 6

2 cups frozen lima beans (10-ounce package), regular or baby

2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons minced shallots

2/3 cup diced, seeded tomatoes

½ cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring salted water to boil in a saucepan. Add the lima beans and cook for 6 to 8 minutes until they are almost tender. Add the corn, return to a simmer and cook uncovered over medium heat until both vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well.

Melt butter in the now-empty saucepan, add the shallots and cook over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, return beans and corn to the pan, along with the cream and sugar; cover and heat through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Lobster!” She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at: facebook.com/brookedojny


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