Crappie with Homemade Condiments
by Vernon Summerlin
In my experience, salt finds its way into most recipes. Salt has been pivotal to civilization. What is now thought to have been the first city in Europe, Solnitsata, Bulgaria, where they mined salt and provided the area now known as the Balkans with the mineral since 5400 BC. The name Solnitsata means “salt works.” Once a rare commodity, it’s now very common, as common as… well, salt. (smile) There are such vast mines and quantities of surface salt in the world that there is no expectation of running out.
The word “salary” comes from the Latin word for salt and the word “salad” literally means “salted” that comes from the ancient Roman practice of salting leaf veggies. Salt is mostly sodium chloride (NaCl). Sea salt and mined salt may contain trace elements and or minerals imparting a slight flavor to the mineral.
Some people put a desiccant, such as a few grains of uncooked rice in salt shakers to absorb moisture to help prevent clumping. Some of many non-cooking uses of household salt are:
- Put salt on your fingers when cleaning fish to prevent slipping
- Sprinkle salt on carpets to dry out muddy footprints before vacuuming
- Rub salt on fruit-stained clothes while wet, then put them in the wash
- If you spill wine or fruit juice on your tablecloth. Pour salt on the spot immediately to absorb the stain
- Apply a paste of salt and olive oil to heat rings on your table, let set for an hour, then wipe off
For our crappie recipe this month, make your seasoned salt, lemon pepper and hot sauce first.
Seasoned Salt Recipe
You can make your own spice mixes and can customize them to your own taste.
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/8 teaspoon flour
Mix all ingredients in a resealable bag and store in an airtight container.
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 3 cups water
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dried onion, minced
- 2 tablespoons jalapeno, mincedCombine the tomato paste and water in a saucepan over medium heat and whisk until smooth. Add cayenne pepper, chili powder, salt, cornstarch, vinegar, dried onion and jalapeno. Heat to boiling and cook for 3 minutes, stirring continuously. Let the sauce cool and then store in a tightly sealed container and refrigerate until needed.
- 1/2 cup black peppercorns (or cayenne pepper or a mixture of the two)
- 3 tablespoons dried lemon zest
Carefully remove the zest from the lemons using a zesting tool or vegetable peeler. Avoid the pith (white) part, it’s very bitter. Place the zest in a bowl. Place the pepper corns on a cutting board and crack them by pressing down with the clean bottom of a heavy pot or pan. You don’t want them ground, just cracked in large pieces. Put in the bowl with the lemon zest. Use a wooden spoon and mash the cracked peppercorns with the lemon zest. This releases the lemon oil so it combines with the cracked pepper better. On a small baking sheet or piece of foil, spread the peppercorn/lemon zest mixture and place in a 200-degree oven. Turn off the oven and let it dry out overnight with the door closed. Check the next day to make sure your mixture is dry and then pulverize the mixture in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder. Store in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark area.
Seasoned Fried Crappies
- 6 to 8 crappie fillets
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
- 2 or 3 shakes hot sauce
- 3 to 4 cups self-rising white corn meal
- 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1/2 cold water
- Canola oil, for frying
In large bowl, mix all ingredients except fillets and corn meal. Mix well. Cover with plastic wrap to inhibit ingredients from drying out. Refrigerate overnight and mix well again. Rinse fillets. Heat a heavy frying pan to 375 degrees; be sure not to overheat oil. Put corn meal mixture in a plastic bag and shake 2 or 3 fillets at once. Place fillets on a plate. When all fillets are breaded, slowly place in hot oil. Fry for about 3 minutes on each side or until fillet flakes under the touch of a fork.