By Vernon Summerlin
Some time ago CrappieNow ran my recipe for crappies with parmesan and peanuts. This month we’ll cook with parmesan again but flavoring the fish with herbs instead of peanuts.
We all can name a number of herbs but did you know they fall into three categories? Culinary, medicinal and spiritual are the general usages of “herbs.”
Culinary use typically distinguishes herbs as referring to the leafy green parts of a plant either fresh or dried. A “spice” is a product from another part of the plant (usually dried), including seeds, berries, bark, roots and fruits.
In medicinal or spiritual use any of the parts of the plant might be considered herbs, including leaves, roots, resin, flowers, bark, berries, etc. In general use, herbs are any plants used for food, flavoring, medicine or perfume. Some plants are used as both herbs and spices, such as dill weed and dill seed or coriander leaves and seeds. Also, there are some herbs such as those in the mint family that are used for both culinary and medicinal purposes.
Some plants contain phytochemicals that have effects on the body. There may be some effects when consumed in the small levels that typify culinary “spicing”, and some herbs are toxic in larger quantities.
Sacred herbs are used in many religions. For example, myrrh and frankincense are quickly recognized by Christians. Other examples are the Nine Herbs Charm used by Anglo-Saxon pagans and cannabis in Hinduism. Plants may be used to induce spiritual experiences for rites of passage, such as vision quests in some Native American cultures. The Cherokee Native Americans use both white sage and cedar for spiritual cleansing.
One of the herbs in this month’s recipe is parsley, used as both a culinary and medicinal herb. It is a good source of flavonoid and antioxidants (especially luteolin), apigenin, folic acid, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, lycopene, alpha carotene as well as beta carotene.
And parsley goes well with many foods, is often used as a garnish and here’s how to use it and other herbs to enhance crappie fillets.
Baked Crappie Fillets
10 – 12 crappie fillets
1 cup dry bread crumbs
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp. whole oregano
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt (to taste)
1/2 tsp. pepper (to taste)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 lemon, sliced, for garnish
Clean and dry fillets with paper towels. Cut into serving size pieces. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, parsley, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper together in a medium size bowl. Dredge fillets through melted butter and then roll them in the dry mixture. Place fillets on greased cookie sheet. Pour the remaining butter over the fish. Bake for approximately 25 minutes. Test for doneness with fork, fish flesh should flake. Serve with fresh lemon slices and parsley.
Marinade made with herbs and spices.
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 small pressed clove of garlic
2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
Combine turmeric, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, and lemon rind. Toss the fish in this mixture, coating it thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours.
Marinade for to be used on wild game, fish or store-bought meats.
1/2 cup strawberry wine
3/4 cup Picante sauce
2 or 3 teaspoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon sorghum molasses
Blend strawberry wine, Picante sauce, vinegar and molasses. Cover food to be cooked with marinade. Use brush to cover all surfaces. Let stand one hour before placing on grill. Cook meat in the usual manner.