Crappie Enhanced with Lemon Plus an Exotic Twist
by Vernon Summerlin
A great recipe plus an additional option for some exotic flavor
Go back and pull up last month’s recipe in CrappieNOW using lemons to refresh your memory about lemons. We’re going to use them again. This time we’re squeezing a Meyer lemon, the one that’s sweet and thin skinned.
- 2 slab crappie fillets
- Sea salt, fine
- Ground black pepper
- All-purpose flour for dusting
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 Meyer lemon, quartered
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter, at room temperature
Over high heat, (360 degrees F.) place a skillet large enough to accommodate your fillets with some space for lemon quarters. Sprinkle both sides of the fish with salt and pepper and dust the skin with flour. If you’re going skinless, dust the side that was nearer the backbone with a thin layer. Add canola oil to the hot skillet then add the fish, flour-side down. Press the fish gently into the pan with a flat spatula to cook. Roughly halfway through browning, add four lemon quarters to the oil, not on the fish. When the opaque whiteness climbs two-thirds up the side of the fish, flip it over. Top with rosemary and butter. Immediately begin basting the fish with a large serving spoon, tilting the skillet slightly to spoon the hot foaming butter over the fillets until the inside of the fish begins to flake. The exterior should have turned an even golden color and the butter is browned. Place fish on plates along with the rosemary and Meyer lemon chunks. To serve, squeeze the softened lemon chunks over the fish. Eat with gusto and savor the flavor!
This time, let’s cook our crappies to give them an exotic Asian flavor. We’ll do this with herbs and spices and a lot of other stuff. When dill is called for you may use coriander or make a mixture of the two herbs.
- 4 four-ounce fresh crappie fillets (It’s the time of year for catching fresh fish.)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger root
- 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon ground turmeric
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 2 large banana shallots, sliced. (They are a cross between an onion and a shallot.)
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- Sea salt finely ground
- Black pepper finely ground
Chili-Lime Cucumber Dressing
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 small red chili, sliced
- 1/2 garlic clove, finely grated
- 5-ounce cucumber, peeled (if you prefer) and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- Dill, fresh large handful
- 1-ounce toasted peanuts roughly chopped
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the fish sauce, ginger, sugar and turmeric with freshly ground black pepper. Add fish fillets and turn to coat them in the marinade, then set aside at room temperature.
In a separate bowl, combine all the chili-lime cucumber ingredients. Set aside.
Heat a large non-stick sauté or frying pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of peanut oil, shallots and a small pinch of salt. Cook for 3–4 minutes until the shallots start to soften then add the garlic. Fry for another 3–4 minutes. Scrape out of the pan into a bowl and set aside. Return the pan to a medium heat with the remaining oil. Add the fillets and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side. Return the shallots and garlic to the pan and add a spoonful of the chili-lime cucumber liquid. Remove the thin slices of cucumber from the chili-lime dressing and divide among plates topping it with the fish and shallots. Scatter a large handful dill and toasted peanuts over the fish. Then spoon the remaining chili-lime dressing over the dill. Serve with rice or rice noodles and lime wedges.
Roasted Peanuts Guideline: Because peanuts have a high fat content, they turn from a golden shade to a blackened bitter mess in a matter of minutes. So, don’t get distracted while you’re in the process and trust your sense of smell as to when they’re done. Roast nuts in the oven. Their uneven shapes mean you get uneven results with dry-frying, whereas roasting gives a good all-round color. Preheat an oven (a fan-oven is better) to 320˚F. and check them after 5 minutes. Different nuts ovens will take shorter or longer. Keep your eye and nose alert!