After several weeks now of teleworking, cabin fever has set in. Cooking is a great stress reliever for me and a fun way to spend time with my family. The cast iron skillet was calling and the beat of the red drum I recently caught was just what was needed to splash the grease. Here are the simple steps to this tasty meal which fed our family of three dinner, plus an easy “fish dip” for the boat the next day.
We are cooking up a redfish caught in the northern Gulf of Mexico along Florida’s “Forgotten Coast”. Redfish take on different names regionally such as channel bass, spot tails, or drum. We target and catch these tasty and strong fish all year long. The warmer months of March through October are our favorite time to fish with artificial baits including spoons, soft plastics and topwater plugs.
Here are the steps and pics of our most enjoyable preparation of dinner. Try these out on your next chance you have some fresh fish to cook:
1. Prepare the filets. Cut out any bones which were not removed when cleaning the fish. Cut into your preferred frying and plating sizes, whether in “cubes” or “sticks”. Pat dry. 2. Prepare the egg wash. I whisked four eggs with equal parts milk to soak the fish in for a few minutes before tossing into the batter. 3. Prep the batter. We often use cracker meal or breadcrumbs to batter redfish filets when pan frying. These breadcrumbs were mixed with salt (to taste) in a bowl before dumping into a doubled up paper sack. Filets are placed in the bag and shaken well to fully cover the filets. 4. Heat Skillet with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Whether a family heirloom, a garage sale find or yours purchased new, the cast iron skillet remains the tried and true tool in the kitchen for cooking countless delicious meals. This old skillet delights each meal and is stored with a coat of EVOO in between performances. 5a. These “cube” shaped poppers are plump and fresh. Fresh fish has very little aroma. When the fish hits the EVOO with the seasoned batter the smells come alive and bring out emotion from anyone downwind. Take a look at this fresh, plump redfish going into the skillet for the first time. 5b. Sticks in the skillet. Stick-shaped cuts of redfish are easy to prepare cutting along natural lines of filets to make easy-to-handle servings but larger than the cubes. For the thinner portions of the filet, towards the tail, or smaller fish use the sticks technique. The chef’s reward. The chef reserves the right to sneak a popper. In this case the chef launched the boat, rigged the bait of choice (spoon) and presented it to the fish. This redfish did not die in vain. 6. Let ‘em rest. These redfish sticks were the first out of the skillet. They will rest here on paper towels until it is time for supper. By resting on paper towels excess oil will drain out of the batter and will ensure the crisp remains for the mouth to enjoy. 7. Dinner is served! Pan fried redfish, rice pilaf, fresh squash and zuchinie and a dollop of tarter sauce. Enjoy your next respite from cabin fever with an easy and fresh plate. You’ll be glad you did.
10 oz redfish (or other fresh white fish filet) ½ tsp. Salt (or to taste) ¼ tsp. Black pepper (or to taste) 1 cup Seasoned bread crumbs 4 eggs 1 cup milk (heavier the better) ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Prepare fish filets by deboning and cutting to preferred serving size. Whisk eggs and add milk in bowl to wash (soak) fish filets for 10 min. Place seasonings and breadcrumbs in paper sack. Add extra virgin olive oil to cast iron skillet to cover bottom of pan, less than ¼” deep. Heat skillet to 350 degrees or until a “test” batter turns brown within 10 seconds. Take filets out of wash and insert into paper sack with breading mix. Shake. Fry filets in the hot oil for about three minutes on each side, until golden brown. Don’t crowd the pan to ensure they become crispy.
Bonus: Tarter Sauce…1/4 cup of mayo, fork full of relish, finish with paprika.