Sunday, December 11, 2011
Depending on where you hail from, a fish fry can be via a variety of techniques; deep fried, pan fried, oven fried; battered, breaded or plainly seasoned. Luckily, I and my family enjoy seafood, so we can easily say we've had it any way we can, and are not afraid to try new recipes concerning creatures from the world's oceans.
When it comes to frying fish in a deep fryer or pan, the oil becomes one of the big considerations. Vegetable oils such as corn, soybean, palm and sunflower are too easily absorbed by the fish; making it too greasy and unappetizing. Olive oil, while being one of the healthiest oils, can have its flavor overwhelm the flavor of the fish itself. Canola and peanut oils are the best to use as they can withstand high temperatures while not having their flavor or greasiness absorbed by the foods being fried. This is great when thick pieces of fish, such as cod, catfish or bluefish, need to cook longer than say thin filets of flounder, trout or swai.
The batter method is used when making the traditional style English fish and chips which will use the thick pieces of cod or haddock. Becoming more popular though is the use of panko (Japanese) bread crumbs which gives a light, airy, crispy coating for not only fish, but shrimp, chicken and even in pork dishes. For pan frying, coating the fish in bread crumbs or simply seasoning with herbs means less oil is used than in a deep fryer. With a coating, a simple 1/4 inch of oil will do the job for thin (1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness)filets, cooking each side for 5-7 minutes to achieve a flaky, yet smooth texture to the flesh. Simply seasoned, just enough oil to keep the fish from sticking to the pan can be used; you just have to decide if you want to have the skin on and make it crispy, or forego the skin. Basic seasonings can be lemon, ground black pepper, salt and herbs such as rosemary or thyme; using Italian flavored bread crumbs gives you the seasonings premeasured and premixed into fine crumbs.
When it comes to a fish fry, the process, no matter which you decide on, is easy; it's deciding the type of fish, coating and seasonings that makes the brain go into overtime. Enjoy!