If you aren’t a seafood eater, you may want to skip this post. Although I joke about the joys of eating bacon, the reality is seafood is my favorite “meat.” Love, love, love fish–and for good reason. It’s healthful. It’s tasty. And it takes only minutes to cook, making it the star of Hasty Tasty Meals recipes.
For example, we picked up fresh tilapia (farm raised in South America) at the seafood counter. In less time than it would’ve taken us to go to a restaurant and order, I had dinner on the table. My secret? Cook everything else first. Fish last. Fish cooks quickly and tastes best when not overcooked. Unlike poultry, pork, or beef, it doesn’t require a thermometer to determine when it’s safely cooked. It turns from pink to pale in minutes and you’re done!
For what I call “Bimini Style” fish, I slice sweet peppers and onion. I season the tilapia fillets with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
I saute the peppers and onions in a preheated skillet (sprayed with Pam®) over medium/low heat.
After all my side dishes are underway (Today it’s fresh organic green beans and carrots in the pressure cooker for 9 minutes), I nestle the fish in with the peppers and onions. Low heat will cook the fish in minutes. Soon as I see the edges turn color, I carefully flip the fish using a long spatula.
By the time my sides cook, the fish is done, too. I serve with the peppers and onions piled on top. No fancy rubs or sauces needed. This is delicious food!
Don’t be intimidated by fish. Just follow these hints and you’ll be the star of your own seafood cooking show!
You don’t have to deep-fry fish to get a crunchy coating. I pan fried catfish fillets in just one tablespoon of safflower oil, and my family gave me rave reviews. Crispy without tasting greasy, this method also works on chicken tenders.
Crispy Fried Fish
- 4 4-5 oz. fillets of catfish or any firm white fish
- 1 Tbsp. safflower oil
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup flour
- ½ cup Panko bread crumbs
- 2 Tbsp. grated cheese (I use Parmesan, but cheddar works, too)
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
- ¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
- Preheat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.
- Salt and pepper the fish.
- Beat one egg. Set up a breading station with flour, egg wash, and bread crumbs.
- Mix the cheese in with the bread crumbs.
- Add oil to the skillet.
- Dredge fish fillets in flour first, then egg wash, then bread crumbs/cheese mixture. Be sure fish is covered thoroughly.
- Place each fillet in the hot oil. Do not move. Cook, uncovered for at least five minutes or until fish browns along the edges.
- Carefully turn each fillet and cook an additional 5 minutes.
- Plate and serve immediately.
Fried fish doesn’t have to be greasy!
Once maligned as a bottom feeder, catfish has emerged as a popular entrée. It’s farmed in the U.S.A. and is sustainable, unlike many farmed varieties of fish. Catfish is a bottom feeder, true, but it does well in crowded ponds. If you’re interested in eating sustainable foods but you’re on a budget, you’re in luck. Catfish is affordable, tasty, and sturdy. It stands up well to a variety of cooking methods. We eat it blackened, baked, pan fried, steamed, even deep fried occasionally. (A word of caution: wild caught catfish can taste strong and fishy, so stick with farm raised.)
Catfish is on sale this week, so I bought two small fillets. It’s important to buy only what you’ll use within 24 hours. Fresh fish is best, but frozen catfish is very good. Just be sure it’s raised in the U.S.A. Asian catfish is a different species, and it’s not as tasty. Also, because catfish is a bottom feeder, you want to be extra careful of its source. You’ll find raised-in-USA frozen catfish fillets even at the big box stores. It’s convenient to have fish on hand in your freezer.
Today I’m pan frying it. It’s not difficult but it is tasty! No wonder it’s a Southern favorite.
Pan Fried Buttermilk Catfish
- 2 small catfish fillets (4-6 oz. each)
- 1 Tbsp. safflower oil or peanut oil (or neutral taste oil of your choice)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup cornmeal or a mix of ½ cup cornmeal and ½ cup all purpose flour
- ½ tsp. salt
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- Soak catfish in buttermilk for 10 minutes, max.
- Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.
- Season corn meal with salt and pepper. Mix to combine.
- Dredge each catfish fillet in the corn meal.
- Place each fillet in the skillet and cook for approximately 5 minutes. Turn. If fish sticks to pan, wait at least another minute to turn.
- Cook 4-5 minutes on the second side.
- Plate and serve immediately.
Serves two. Serve with steamed vegetables, cheese grits, and a whole grain roll.
Catfish is versatile, flavorful, and good for you. Give it a try.
By request, here is one of my favorite (and easy) fish recipes. Use low heat and don’t overcook. If you don’t have an electric skillet, use a quality covered skillet over low heat.
Fiery Fish with Fennel and Onion
1-1¼ pound any firm fish fillets
1 fresh bulb fennel (save some of the fennel fronds for garnish) 1 large yellow onion
1 Tbsp. lemon juice or 1 lemon, sliced
½ tsp – 1 tsp Redneck Pepper Flamin Fish seasoning (optional for sissies)
Preheat a large electric skillet to 250°. Quarter, core, and slice fennel bulb into ¼” slices. Peel and slice onion into ¼” slices. Arrange fennel and onion slices in bottom of the skillet and cover, simmering for about ten minutes. Meanwhile, rinse the fish fillets, sprinkle with lemon juice (or if you prefer, cover fish with lemon slices when cooking), then season fillets with the Redneck Pepper Flamin Fish seasoning (or regular lemon pepper if you can’t find Redneck Pepper*) on both sides.
Carefully placed the fish fillets on top the sliced fennel and onions, cover, and steam for approximately fifteen minutes. Avoid lifting the lid, but if too much steam escapes, adjust temperature a bit lower, to about 225°. Check fish after fifteen minutes. If done, unplug skillet and serve. If fish needs additional time, cover and time an additional five minutes. Check again.
Serve the fish with a side of the cooked onions and fennel slices, cornbread, and a side vegetable of your choice. Tasty and healthful, too!
*For information on how to purchase Redneck Pepper, call 1-78-REDNECK2 or visit http://www.redneckpepper.com/ . You’ll be glad you did!
Fiery Fish and Fennel for 4