Monday, January 16, 2012

His and Hers Fish 'n' Chips... and our Weekly Menu

Kitchen gadgety stores are completely addictive.  I'll go into them - just to look, of course - and leave with espresso powder, fancy seasonings, kitchen gadgets.  Things I can't do without, you know.  I'm pretty easy to shop for these days.

The other day, I stopped by World Market, looking for something very specific (something that only cost $3), and ended up leaving with about seven things!  I don't know how that happens.  The only thing that stops me from going to Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table every week is that they're both at big, busy malls where getting there and parking and all that is kind of a hassle.  My bank account would be in serious trouble if those stores were easier to get to, so I'm sure it's a good thing that something holds me back.

Otherwise, I'd have to start going to shopaholics anonymous meetings and introducing myself as Heather, the Kitchen Gadget Addict.  I kind of blame this blog a little bit for my addiction, and yet I love it so much that I can't be mad at it for too long.  :)

For a stocking stuffer for Christmas, I got Jamie a jar of Malt Vinegar Sea Salt I found at Williams Sonoma, and of course, the first thing he wanted to use it for was Fish 'n' Chips.

He did a beer-battered fish using a winter ale called Snow Day, and we also just happened to have a little duck fat in the fridge from cooking duck recently, so of course, that had to be used for frying the fish and potatoes.  If you've never tried frying something in duck fat, it's something you have to do at least once.  The flavor is just delicious.  And if you fry food at the right temperature (around 365), then the oil retention in the food should only be about 10 percent.  Frying at too low a temperature will allow the food to absorb way too much oil and become greasy and heavy.

The fish (he used Orange Roughy) was light and crispy and the malt vinegar sea salt added such a nice tangyness to everything.  A little ketchup and homemade tartar sauce on the side for dipping was the final touch.  I'm thinking we need to make some homemade potato chips with that sea salt next...  I'm a sucker for salt and vinegar chips.

This past week, I thought I would try a lighter version of fish 'n' chips with a Cheddar and Cornmeal Crusted Catfish with Sweet Potato fries - baking everything this time instead of frying.  Jamie thought the addition of the cheddar sounded weird, since everyone says you're not supposed to pair cheese with fish.  Except Parmesan, which is used with seafood all the time.  But the cheddar was subtle - the fish weren't cheesy at all, it was just the flavor that came through and was really nice with the cornmeal crust.

I seasoned up the sweet potatoes with salt, pepper, cayenne and garlic powder, and baked those until they were soft inside and crispy outside, about 35 minutes at 400.  I have to admit, I do generally like a fried fry better than a baked one, but these were good, too.

For the catfish, I seasoned them first with salt, pepper, ground mustard powder and Old Bay, a little dusting of flour, a quick dredging in low-fat buttermilk with beaten egg, then a final coating of cornmeal and finely grated cheddar cheese.  After baking for 20 minutes at 400, they were nice and flaky inside with a slightly crispy crust.  We dipped the fish in honey, which was really yummy.

Next time, I would add some bread crumbs to the cornmeal and cheddar, because the cornmeal didn't really get crispy enough on its own, so I've included bread crumbs in my recipe below.

Another really delicious baked side dish that tastes like they've been fried are these little baked Parmesan zucchini chips.  Hot and crispy from the oven, you'll find yourself wanting to eat a lot of these.

These were two really yummy versions of fish 'n' chips, and I like having a variety of ways to prepare the same meal.  Baked or fried, which do you prefer?

My recipes are below and Jamie used a recipe by Alton Brown.

And for our weekly menu... :)

Steak with Tomato Salsa over Brown Rice

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Fish with Corn and Black Bean Quinoa

Chili Shrimp and Avocado Tacos

Sushi Night

Cornmeal and Cheddar Crusted Catfish
printable recipe

  • 2 pounds catfish (3-4 fillets)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup finely grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup coarse dry breadcrumbs
  • honey, for dipping

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray.

Rinse the fish, pat dry and lay on a large cutting board.  Cut each fillet into 4 pieces (cut down the center of each fillet, then cut each of those in half).  Season with salt, pepper, ground mustard and Old Bay.  Sprinkle with the flour and turn each piece so that all are lightly coated with the flour.

In a shallow bowl, whisk together the egg and buttermilk.  In a separate shallow bowl combine the cheddar cheese, cornmeal and breadcrumbs (I put the cheddar in a food processor and pulsed it a few times so that it was more fine).

Dip each piece of fish in the egg/buttermilk and then coat in the crumb mixture.  Place in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Bake at 400 for 20 minutes until the fish is cooked through.  Serve immediately with honey on the side for dipping.

Yields 4 servings.

Spicy Baked Sweet Potato Fries
printable recipe

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into evenly-sized fries
  • non-stick spray
  • salt and pepper
  • cayenne pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400.  Cover a baking sheet with foil.  Place the fries in one layer on the baking sheet.  Spray with the non-stick spray.  Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, cayenne and garlic.  Turn the fries over and season the other side.  Drizzle with the olive oil.

Bake at 400 for 35-40 minutes, turning once, until potatoes are browned and crispy and cooked through.

Serve immediately.

Yields 4 servings.

Crispy Parmesan zucchini Chips
printable recipe

  • 2 zucchini, washed and dried (unpeeled)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs (Italian seasoned would be good)

Preheat the oven to 375.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray.

Slice the zucchini into 1/4 inch thick slices.  Arrange 3 shallow dishes, one containing the flour, another with the milk, and another with the Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.  Coat each slice of zucchini in the flour, then dip in the milk, then coat in the cheese/bread crumb mixture.  Place on the baking sheet in a single layer.

Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.  Serve immediately.

Yields 4 servings.