When planting your garden, set aside a plot for herbs or pots on your patio. They will pay off in better tasting foods as well as save you a few bucks. The use of herbs goes back to when humans decided to add a little extra flavor to their foods.
Basil, one of the herbs in this recipe, has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years. Herbs are different than vegetables in that they add zest to foods whereas veggies are consumed as food. (I wonder, are hot chilies a veggie or herb or both?). Basil is easy to grow from seeds once the danger of frost has passed or you can buy transplants. Or start with a few plants in a pot in late February or early March to transplant to your garden plot or patio in the spring. Wait about six weeks after planting before you begin pinching off fresh leaves.
Another herb for our fish recipe is oregano. This perennial herb is commonly used in Spanish, Italian and Mexican dishes, and it goes very well with fried fish. Plants may be started from seed, cuttings or crown division. Seed-grown plants may not have good flavor but you’ve got to start somewhere. You can propagate oregano by stem cuttings or crown division. Plants respond well to clump division every two to three years. This helps restore vigor and improve the flavor. Fresh leaves can be snipped when you need them. For the best flavor, harvest leaves just as flower buds form. To dry, cut stems and bag dry or tray dry. When leaves are brittle, remove and separate them from the stem and store in an airtight container.
Parsley is a popular, widely grown herb and is very easy to grow in gardens, containers and hanging baskets. It is a biennial that is usually treated as an annual (my Middle Tennessee plants don’t make it through winter). .
Plant a selection of various chilies ranging from mild to hot to add zing to you dishes.
Pan Fried Dilly Fish
4 fresh fillets 3/4 to 1 inch thick
3 softened salted butter
2 tablespoons dill, fresh finely minced dill
2 tablespoons olive oil
Prepare dill-butter in advance by adding dill to softened butter (room temp) and mix thoroughly and set aside. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in skillet. Decrease heat to medium and cook fillets 2 minutes per side. Add dill-butter to skillet and cook fillets 1 more minute per side or until fish flakes easily. Serves 2-4.
Fried Fish Alabama-Style
2 catfish fillets per person
2 cups of yellow enriched cornmeal
1/2 cup of self-rising flour
2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning*
Beer, milk or water
Mix cornmeal, flour, cayenne pepper, salt and Creole Seasoning in large sealable bowl with lid or in a sealable plastic bag. Taste your dry mix of ingredients before committing them to your fillets. Wet fillets with beer, milk or water: Cut to bite-size. Put handful of fish in bowl or plastic bag at a time to avoid getting the dry mix too wet. Cover fish completely. Heat oil at 350-365 degrees F. Cook until done. Sprinkle lightly with lemon juice, if desired.
*Be salt conscious: Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning’s first ingredient is salt.
Cajun Spicy Fried Fish
2-3 fillets per person
1 envelope Shake & Bake for pork
3 tablespoons sifted flour
1 cup instant potato flakes
4 tablespoons cornmeal
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup buttermilk
Hot sauce to taste
Mix Shake & Bake, flour, potatoes and cornmeal. Salt and pepper the fillets. Mix milk and hot sauce and pour over fish. Toss into dry mix to coat evenly. Press dry mixture on each piece of fish, coating well. Pan-fry in oil until done. Turn with spatula to prevent breaking. The potatoes seal the fish keeping it moist. Serve 2 fillets per person.
6-8 crappie fillets
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
1/4 cup cayenne hot sauce (use more or less to suit your taste)
1/2 stick of butter
1 cup flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
Fresh ground black peppercorns to taste
Combine the eggs, whipping cream, milk and hot sauce in a large bowl. Add melted butter and mix well. Submerge the crappie fillets in the mixture and set in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours. Pour flour and cornmeal into a large bowl or clean plastic bag. Mix dry ingredients thoroughly and set aside. After marinating, coat crappie fillets with fresh ground black pepper and place in the dry mixture to coat fillets. Next stop is your skillet. Serves 3-4.
Fillets with Herbs and Spices
12 fish fillets
1 cup buttermilk (enough to cover fillets)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried chervil
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried ginger
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sage
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons paprika
Place fillets in bowl or plastic bag, cover with buttermilk and set in refrigerator for 1 hour. Place dry ingredients in food processor and grind to fine mixture. Remove fish from buttermilk, drain but keep moist. Add dry mix on each piece and place in fryer until done. Serves 6.