Category Archives: Seafood/ Fish

Prawns and Avocado

On a recent trip to Puerto Rico, my hubby and I enjoyed a delicious lunch appetizer called Prawns and Avocado. I was hesitant to order the dish at first because I sometimes have a reaction to shrimp but I decided to give it a try. Boy was I glad I did. The appetizer was so refreshing.

The dices of avocado were fresh and the prawns were soft and sweet. I have to admit it was difficult sharing the appetizer with hubby after I took the first bite. Fortunately for hubby, I love him dearly so I did share two pieces. After we both looked at the empty plate we agreed I should try replicating the appetizer once we got back home. I wasn’t able to get the exact recipe from the chef so I recreated Prawns and Avocado from a photo I took with my phone. Yes, it looked so appetizing and tasted so good I took a picture before we gobbled them all up.

My version of Prawns and Avocado is not quite like the wonderful dish we enjoyed in Puerto Rico but it is pretty darn close. There definitely is a difference between the shrimp I get at the local market but the flavor is similar.

Remembering how the appetizer was described on the menu helped me keep the recipe simple. Prawns (shrimp), avocado, red onion, lime juice and cilantro was all I needed to make this tasty treat pop!

Ahhh…. the memories.

Prawns and Avocado

Ingredients:

½ avocado diced

½ lb medium cooked shrimp cut in half

1 tbsp fresh lime juice

1 tsp fresh cilantro chopped

1 tbsp red onion diced small

1 tbsp olive oil

½ tbsp lemon juice

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper

3 dashes hot sauce

1 baguette or ciabatta bread sliced

Place shrimp in a large bowl. Add salt, pepper, red onion, cilantro, lime juice and hot sauce. Stir to mix. Set aside.

Place avocado in a medium sized bowl along with lemon juice and a pinch of season salt. Mash the avocado until smooth but leave a few chunky pieces. Spread avocado over bread slices. Top with shrimp mixture. Garnish with cilantro if desired.

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Lobster Pasta

Sweet, sweet lobster meat! I have yet to meet anyone that has tried lobster and does not fall in love with it. Unless you are allergic to shellfish, I think that once you try lobster you are hooked. Whether you dip it in melted butter and lemon juice or create a Lobster Pasta I know you will enjoy a meal made with lobster.

Okay, I can hear the rumblings already about how expensive lobster can be. That is true. Lobsters can be expensive which is why I am always on the look out for lobster tail sales. Most of the meat is in the tail anyway so who needs the whole lobster. I would only buy a whole lobster if it were on sale and if I wanted to make a flavorful seafood stock with the shell. Lobster tails, of course, can still be pricey depending on the size but much less expensive than a whole lobster. If you find lobster tails on sale, pick up a few and freeze what you don’t need to use for a recipe. They really do freeze well.

Now back to my Lobster Pasta. I started out thinking about making a lobster pasta salad but got side tracked and landed on making Lobster Pasta. Maybe because I have seen so many Olive Garden commercials lately showing creamy pasta dishes with splashes of seafood. Or, it could be the fact that my family loves pasta and it is the easiest way for me to get them to try out new recipes. Since they love seafood and they love pasta I just put the two together.

I probably shouldn’t tell this story but I don’t think hubby will know. When hubby and I first got married I thought I would make a special lobster anniversary dinner. I found a couple of nice sized whole lobsters on sale at the fishmonger and although I had never cooked a live lobster I was game to try. I wasn’t sure if they would make noise like crabs do when you put them in hot water but since they had little rubber bands on the claws I figured they wouldn’t be too wild in the pot. I was able to cook the lobster without any trouble and made a beautiful salad, another side dish and a lemon butter dipping sauce. I placed the whole lobster on a plate with the rest of the meal to create a delightful presentation to hubby. Because it was our anniversary I decided to take dinner to hubby with a big smile on face. As soon as he saw the lobster on the plate he had a little freakout. The beady eyes, the long antenna and big head was too much for him. Hubby said there was no way he could eat the lobster looking at all of that. So, I had to take the lobster into the kitchen and broke it down to a tail and two claws. Needless to say, this is another reason why I only buy lobster tails and not whole lobsters. I don’t want to freak out hubby!

Lobster Pasta

Ingredients:

4 cooked lobster tails sliced

2 plum tomatoes cut into cubes

1 box vermicelli pasta

4 cups water

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup seafood stock or chicken stock

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

1 tbsp lemon zest

1 tbsp sour cream

2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp chopped parsley

juice of ½ lemon

Prepare pasta according to package. Toss with a little olive oil and set aside.

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil with 1 tsp of salt. Add broccoli florets to boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove broccoli from boiling water and plunge into ice cold water (okay to add ice to the water) for 2 – 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Melt butter in a large no-stick skillet and add flour. Whisk until smooth then add stock. Continue to whisk until sauce begins to thicken. Add sour cream and whisk until blended. Add pasta, lobster, broccoli and remaining ingredients. Gently toss until lobster and broccoli are well incorporated with the pasta. Service with crusty garlic bread.

Salmon Patties

Back in the days when I was living with my parents we ate a lot of fish. Mostly, it was fish we caught during the year because my folks loved to fish on their days off. During the summer, when I was out of school, we would drive down state or over the state line to one of their favorite fishing holes. Perch, trout, catfish and something my mom called butter fish were usually the catch of the day. My parents loved to go deep sea fishing which required taking a chartered boat out for the day. I was too chicken to go on the boat so I would stay home and hope they caught a few flounder that day.

Thinking about those days and eating lots of fish reminded me that one of my favorite meals was salmon croquettes. At least that is what my mom called them. Not quite like chicken croquettes but more like a crab cake made with salmon. The salmon was delicious although I thought it was weird eating soft fish bones. Yeah, my mom used canned salmon like most folks back then. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against canned salmon. I made my first Salmon Patties (as I call them) using canned salmon. I never thought about using fresh cooked salmon for my mom’s version of salmon croquettes.

As I have developed my cooking chops and expanded my creativity, I decided fresh salmon was better than canned salmon. Of course, if I am in the mood for Salmon Patties and fresh salmon fillets are not available, bring on the canned salmon. Yup, I still keep a can in my pantry.

Remember, fresh is always best! However, whether you use fresh or canned salmon I can almost guarantee you will enjoy this very simple but flavorful dish.

Salmon Patties

Ingredients:

3 baked salmon fillets

5 dashes hot sauce

1 egg

1 scallion diced

½ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup panko bread crumbs

1 tbsp half and half

½ tsp brown mustard

½ tsp dried dill

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper

¼ tsp old bay seasoning

Lightly beat egg with half and half then set aside.

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

Place salmon in a large bowl and flake with a fork. Add bread crumbs, scallions, seasonings and egg mixture. Mix together well then form into patties. Place no more than 4 patties in the skillet to prefer crowding. Brown on both sides until golden then remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Serve with Seafood Sauce shown below.

Seafood Sauce:

3 tbsp sour cream

2 tbsp fresh hot salsa

¼ tsp dried dill

¼ tsp Adobo

¼ old bay seasoning

pinch seasoned salt

pinch of black pepper

Mix well. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

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Kicked Up Mussels

The other day I was watching an old episode of the Barefoot Contessa about a seafood salad she was making for a friend and it included mussels. That got me to thinking about an old mussel recipe I had but never really tweaked. Since I needed a new post idea I decided I would work on creating a Kicked Up Mussels recipe.

Both my hubby and I love seafood and besides eating a lot of chicken we eat a lot of fish. Once in a while I will throw together a shrimp or scallop meal if I have the ingredients. That is one of the issues I have in creating new meals during the week. It is too easy to keep using over and over again the same ol’ staples I keep in the pantry. Preparing a special meal takes planning and sometimes calls for an extra trip to the grocery store. Because I work full-time I don’t always have a lot of time to be creative with dinner. However, I have been known to have a burst of creativity now and again if I have not had a tough day at work. The weekends are really the best time for me to test out recipes and take my time to fashion a new recipe or try an old recipe with a new twist.

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Okay, back to the Kicked Up Mussels. I had to search a couple of my old recipe journals to find my mussel recipe and was happy to discover it was a pretty simple one. My original recipe called for beer instead of white wine like most other recipes. I could not remember if this was a good idea or bad idea. But hey, I use beer in a few of my recipes and I have not heard any complaints yet so I guessed it was a good idea. Since I was using beer instead of wine I had to find a nice light beer with a hint of citrus flavors rather than a dark beer which I thought would be heavy. I am not a beer drinker so my apologies to true beer drinkers if I don’t know what I am talking about. I did a little research by perusing the beer isle at a local liquor store with a large variety of beers. I landed on Namaste White which is by Dogfish Head Brewery located in Delaware.

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As a non-beer drinker I must say I enjoyed taking a swig of Namaste White after adding most of it to the mussels. The combination of orange, lemongrass and coriander in the beer along with the brininess of the mussels and aromatic herbs was genius. All right. I may not be a genius but the combination of flavors was genius. I will even go as far as to say my recipe would be welcomed in any 4 star restaurant. The proof is in the pudding. You be the judge and try it out.

Kicked Up Mussels

Ingredients:

2 dozen mussels cleaned

3 plum or tomatoes diced

3 cloves garlic chopped

2 shallots diced

1 jalapeno pepper seeded and diced

1 Namaste White beer

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp parsley

½ tsp thyme

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

pinch of salt

pinch of black pepper

Clean mussels by running them under cold water and gently scrub them if necessary to remove dirt from the shells.  Use a knife to remove the fuzzy beard if present. Arrange mussels in a large skillet. Set aside while sauteing tomatoes.

Place olive oil in a medium sized non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic shallots, jalapeno pepper and tomatoes. Season with salt, black pepper and thyme. Stir then saute for 2 minutes. Move mussels to heat and pour tomato mixture and beer over mussels. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and shake to mix tomatoes and mussels. Cover and cook for 3 minutes until mussels pop open. Discard any mussels that do not open. Sprinkle with parsley before serving. Serve with crusty bread to sop up the delicious sauce.

Tip: Cultivated mussels vs. wild mussels. 

If you purchase wild mussels, they may be a little gritty which means your mussels will be crunchy.  To make sure you remove any sand from the mussels dissolve about 1/4 cups of salt and 2 cups of warm in a large pot along with 2 tbsp of flour or cornmeal.  Add the mussels then cover with water.    Soak for 1 – 2 hours.  Drain then rinse the mussels with cold water.  Most mussels you find in the grocery store are cultivated and do not contain a lot of sand or grit so there may not be a need to soak the mussels.  Just clean the shells. To be on the safe side I would soak the mussels as I described.

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Stuffed Flounder

Fish Sale! I was at the grocery store looking for something to prepare for dinner and passed by the seafood counter when something caught my eye. Low and behold, they were having a fish sale. One of my favorite types of fish (Cod) was $3.00 less than usual. They also had another one of my favorites on sale – flounder. The flounder looked nice and fresh so I bought four fillets to make Stuffed Flounder for dinner.

The reason I decided to make Stuffed Flounder was so I could use the rest of the cornbread stuffing we had the night before. Now, that our youngest son is in college I actually have leftovers. I don’t like wasting food so I try to find different ways to “re-purpose” the leftovers. Making a spinach and cornbread stuffing for the flounder seemed like a great idea.

Guess what? It was a great idea and hubby was happy with a full belly after he cleaned his plate. This was definitely one of my Health, Quick and Easy meals. The flounder was light and healthy. The stuffing was quick to make and putting the two together was easy. What could be better than that!?!

Stuffed Flounder

Ingredients:

4 flounder fillets

1 pkg baby leaf spinach leaves

1egg

1 ½ cups cornbread stuffing

3 tbsp butter

1 tbsp water

1 tsp dried dill

black pepper

paprika

salt

juice from ½ lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 1 tbsp butter in a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Add spinach and water. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper to taste. Cook until spinach is wilted stirring occasionally.

Place cornbread in a bowl and add spinach with juice. Beat egg and add to cornbread and spinach mixture. Mix well then set aside.

Season fish with salt and black pepper. Place two fish fillets on a rimmed cookie sheet or in a long casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray. Spoon stuffing onto each fillet. Top with remaining fish fillets then sprinkle with paprika. Place 1 tbsp of butter on each fish fillet. Bake fish for 10 to 15 minutes until fish is cooked through but not dry.

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Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes, Fennel and Pasta

Salmon is probably my favorite fish next to cod. Cod is my go to fish for frying because it is tender and flaky. Salmon tastes great when it is broiled or baked and dripping with butter and lemon. To compliment salmon I like to add a side dish of vegetables and pasta. On some occasions I like to combine everything into a single dish.

My Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes, Fennel and Pasta is one of those dishes that can be combined into a single dish. Beautiful curls of pasta topped with a tenderly broiled salmon fillet and a cascade of roasted tomatoes and fennel can only make your mouth water when you look at your plate of deliciousness. Okay, Seriously! This is a beautiful dish that tastes wonderful. The type of salmon used in the recipe will change the taste of the dish so use whatever your taste buds like. I am not a fan of sockeye salmon which has a deep reddish orange color and a strong flavor. I prefer Coho or Atlantic salmon which is lighter in color and has a much milder flavor than sockeye. No matter which type of salmon you choose you are sure to get a ton of Omega-3s.

Roasting tomatoes brings out the natural sweetness of the tomatoes. Fennel is aromatic and has a sweet licorice flavor. Cooked fennel has a milder flavor than raw fennel so it goes well with the salmon and tomatoes without overpowering the dish.

So, if you are looking for a nice healthy flavorful dish to impress your family and friends try out my Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes, Fennel and Pasta. You cannot go wrong with this one.

Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes, Fennel and Pasta

Ingredients:

2 – 3 salmon fillets

6 -8 plum tomatoes cut into wedges

1 small bulb of fennel

1 shallot sliced

1 pkg campanelle pasta

¼ cup reserved pasta water

¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese

6 tbsp butter

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

½ tsp dill

paprika

Preheat 425 degrees.

Prepare pasta according to package reserving ¼ cup of the pasta water. Set aside.

 

Place tomatoes, fennel and shallots on a rimmed cookies sheet. Drizzle with olive oil then sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Toss to coat veggies with olive oil and seasonings. Place in oven and roast for 25 to 30 minutes.

Prepare salmon by placing on a rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt, black pepper and dill. Place 2 tbsp of butter on each fillet. Place in oven with tomatoes and fennel. Cook for 20 minutes. Set aside to rest while tomatoes and fennel finish cooking.

Remove tomatoes and fennel from the oven and pour pasta water over veggies. Spoon pasta onto a plate. Add a salmon fillet then spoon roasted tomatoes and fennel over the salmon. Garnish with shaved parmesan cheese.

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Curried Fish

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Have you ever had a day when you were prepared to make one dish but wind up preparing something totally different? I just had one of those days. I was ready to try out a new chicken dish on the family when my hubby made the statement that we were eating a lot of heavy meat lately. He told me it would be nice to have a light salad and/or fish. Keep in mind that I include salads with our meals almost 5 out of 7 days each week. Besides, I don’t consider chicken wings to be a heavy meat like beef or pork. Anyway, I was in a good mood to be flexible and took up the challenge of switching gears and coming up with a lighter meal.

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The only fish I had available in the freezer was cod. I didn’t want to just bake the cod so I tried thinking outside the box and prepared a Curried Fish dish over chopped cabbage along with the requested salad. Granted, I had no idea how to make Curried Fish so I decided to tweak one of my curry chicken recipes that would adapt well to using fish instead of chicken.

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The biggest difference in making my Curry Chicken dish and the Curried Fish was adding a jar of Marsala. The elevation of both the heat and flavors was amazing. As I have always said, my family loves spicy foods and the Marsala definitely made the Curried Fish spicy. If you don’t like a lot of heat in your food just cut down on the amount of Marsala you use or purchase a milder version of the sauce.

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In the end, I was pleased with how the Curried Fish turned out and my hubby was quite happy. He got both a spicy fish dish he loved and the salad he requested. What more could a hungry man want?

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Curried Fish

Ingredients:
2 – 3 large cod fillets
1 small green pepper sliced thin
1 small red onion sliced thin
1 clove garlic minced
1 jar Marsala red hot curry sauce
1 13.6 oz can light coconut milk Thai Kitchen
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup prepared rice
¼ cup chicken broth
3 tbsp olive oil

Seasonings:
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp Adobo
1 tbsp onion powder
½ tbsp cumin
½ tbsp nutmeg
½ tbsp thyme
½ tsp chili powder
¼ tbsp coriander
8 – 10 dashes of hot sauce
pinch of sugar

Cut fish in to large cubes. Season with a little salt and black pepper. Place in a container then pour buttermilk over the fish. Add hot sauce and stir to mix well with fish. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Saute onions and green peppers with olive oil in a large frying pan for 5 minutes over medium heat. Stir in garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Do not let the garlic burn. Add cumin, nutmeg, salt, black pepper, turmeric and chili powder. Stir until well combine and cook for a few minutes to release the flavors. Add coconut milk, curry powder, tomatoes with juice and broth. Stir to combine. Add Marsala and continue stirring. Bring to a low simmer. Drain fish from buttermilk and add to sauce. Reduce heat to medium low. Cover and let fish cook for 20 – 25 minutes. Serve over rice or chopped cabbage.

Tip: Use milder version or less Marsala if you do not like really spicy foods.

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Shrimp with Crab Grits

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I recently went to a fantastic restaurant in Maryland with my daughter and youngest son. We were doing an overnight visit with baby girl so I treated us all to dinner. The restaurant was eclectic with modern tables, a small library of books to purchase, great artwork, a stage for poetry readings and wonderful service. The crowd was diverse and so was the food.

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I was amazed at the variety of dishes on the small menu which had a basic organic theme but offered foods anyone could enjoy. I decided to try a shrimp dish that was layered over crab grits and smothered in a light sauce with crisp veggies. After the first bite I knew I would have to try and re-create this dish when I got home.

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What I created does not taste exactly like the wonderful dish in Maryland but it comes pretty close. The key was to make sure each layer of flavor complimented the next. The grits were nice and creamy with the subtle hint of crab. The veggies were crisp and naturally sweet. The shrimp added their own layer of flavor along with an underlying level of spicy heat just enough to make your taste buds tingle. Although I used jumbo shrimp for the recipe, I think scallops or a nice grilled fillet of salmon or cod would be enjoyable too.

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Shrimp with Crab Grits

Ingredients:
1 lb lump crab meat shelled
2 shallots diced
2 cloves garlic sliced
1 tomato seeded diced
1 cup coarsely ground grits
1 cup thin asparagus chopped
2 cups water
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup half and half
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
juice from ½ lemon
Bring water and 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil. Stir in half and half then add grits and reduce to medium heat. Cook until thick and tender approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Add cheese and stir until melted and well blended. Gently stir in crab and try not to break up the lumps of meat. Set aside and keep warm. Add a little milk if needed to thin out grits.

In a medium pan melt 1 tbsp butter with 1 tbsp olive oil. When heated add shrimp and sprinkle with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Cook until shrimp are pink and remove from heat. Set aside.

In a large pan saute shallots in olive oil and 1 tbsp butter until slightly browned. Stir in garlic then add asparagus, tomatoes, parsley and seasonings. Let simmer for 3 minutes then remove from heat.

Place grits into a bowl then spoon veggie mixture over the grits. Top with shrimp and sprinkle a little fresh parsley over the top. Yummy!

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Vera Cruz with Tilapia

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During a conversation with my sister-in-law a while ago she told me about a wonderful fish dish she prepares for her family. I had never heard of Vera Cruz but it seemed interesting and simple to make. I guess I am behind the times because when I told a few of my friends about wanting to try out the dish for the blog they said they often make the dish.

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Since I did not want to be the only one left off of the Vera Cruz boat I thought I would come up with my version of the standard recipe. The only real difference between my version and the standard version my sister-in-law shared are the few additional seasonings I used. As always my crew likes a little heat so I added some to the sauce.

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I was pleasantly surprised at how the Vera Cruz with Tilapia turned out and even more surprised that my youngest son really liked it. Typically, my son likes fried fish versus what he would consider to be baked fish. Once his plate was cleaned from eating the Vera Cruz with Tilapia I could only smile then I let my sister-in-law know what a great recipe Vera Cruz with Tilapia turned out to be.

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Vera Cruz with Tilapia

Ingredients:
4 tilapia fillets
1 small onion sliced
1 small green pepper sliced
2 scallions diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 jalapeno pepper diced (remove membrane and some seeds)
1 14 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
1 8 oz can tomato puree or sauce
¼ cup capers
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Season fish with a little salt and black pepper. Set aside.

Melt butter along with olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium high heat. Add two pieces of fish and brown lightly on both sides. Place fish in a long casserole dish. Repeat with remaining fish and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium then add onion, scallions, green pepper and garlic to the pan. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir for 1 – 2 minutes until veggies soften a little and watch carefully so that garlic does not burn. Add roasted tomatoes and tomato puree/ sauce along with remaining seasonings. Simmer over medium low heat for 5 minutes. Pour mixture over fish and sprinkle with capers. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes until fish is fully cooked.

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Beer Battered Fried Fish

 

This post is dedicated to my dad who passed away in September.  Today is his birthday and I remember him fondly.  Happy Birthday Daddy! IMG_9622_1

Fried Fish was one thing I could count on my Mom fixing every week when I was growing up. Every Thursday we had fish for dinner. Most of the time it was fish my Mom and Dad (and sometimes me) had caught while going fishing on their days off. The day before a fishing trip my Dad and I would go digging for worms in the compost heap behind our house.

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I learned how to bait a hook but could not bring myself to take the fish off the hook if I caught one. The day my Dad got tired of taking the fish off the hook of my fishing pole was the day I stopped fishing. I guess he felt he was spending more time taking fish off my hook than enjoying fishing himself. I really could not blame him because I may have felt the same way if I had to do it for my kids.

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Now I just go to the fish market or grocery store to “catch” my fish. Besides, I prefer boneless fish so I can easily buy fish fillets and not worry about scaling, gutting and chopping off fish heads. Yuck!

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Cod is a great fish to use when making beer battered fried fish. The meat is thick, tender, sweet and holds up well while frying. Although my beer battered fried fish is not quite like my Mom’s Thursday fish fry, it is equally as delicious.

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Beer Battered Fried Fish

Ingredients:
2 – 3 cod fish fillets
1 12 oz bottle Amber Ale beer
6 oz peach beer (optional)
2 cups vegetable oil
¾ cup flour
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
½ tsp seasoned salt
½ tsp cayenne

In a large bowl mix flour, beer and salt. Set aside.

Add vegetable oil to a dutch oven or large frying pan. Heat oil over medium high heat until slightly smoking.

Cut cod into thick slices. Season fish with seasoned salt, pepper and cayenne. Stir batter then dip fish into batter and allow excess batter to drain off. Place fish into hot oil and let brown on each side. Approximately 5-7 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels.

Serve with home fries and a mixed salad.

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