feasting with friends

Hook…Line…Perch

Pan Fried PerchMichigan is known as “The Great Lake State”. Our fresh water lakes contain many different varieties of fish. One of my favorites is Yellow Perch. It is plentiful, but most importantly for me it is a mild tasting fish with white, flaky fillets. Being the daughter of a man with no sons, I fished quite a bit in my youth. For me, it was more an act of “feeding the fish”. Line dangling in water, hook just below the surface where I could still see it, and counting the seconds or minutes until a happy fish discovered a fat worm for breakfast. This never made my dad too happy as he would just have to put more bait on my hook. Touching worms was not something I would do…ever! Looking back, I really don’t know why he would take my sister and I fishing, all he got to do was bait hooks! I can’t remember many fish being caught, and if they were it was probably more of an appetizer than a full meal. So flash forward to present day, neither Glenn nor I are fisherman. But luckily we can visit one at our local farmer’s market. We never know what he’ll have on his truck any given week – it all depends on what he has caught. Recently, our purchase was the perch. Best part for us is it’s all descaled, cleaned and ready for cooking. No yucky stuff for us to do. I’ve found perch is best pan fried, not necessarily the healthiest way, but not the worst either. My favorite way to prepare it for pan frying is a 3 dip method. I set up 3 shallow bowls: 1 contains flour; 1 egg/milk; and 1 bread crumbs. I then create a little assembly line, dipping each fillet in 1 bowl after the other readying it for cooking. One pound of fish can be cooked up in less than 30 minutes – a super easy and quick dinner.

Ingredients
1 lb. fresh yellow perch fillets
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1/4 cup milk
dash or 2 of hot pepper sauce
2 cups finely crushed bread crumbs [cracker crumbs, cornmeal or panko crumbs may be substituted]
1/2 cup butter + 4 Tablespoons for de-glazing the pan
1 lemon + plus extra lemon wedges for serving
 
Directions 
•Preheat oven to 225°F. Line a baking sheet with a wire rack, or crumpled foil. Let prepared pan preheat in the oven.
•Set up 3 shallow bowls. Bowl 1 contains a mixture of the flour, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and paprika. Bowl 2 contains the egg whisked with the milk and hot pepper sauce. Bowl 3 contains the bread crumbs.
•Dip each fillet into the flour mixture, then the egg mixture and then the crumbs, coating each side of the fillet completely during each of these 3 steps.
Pan Fried Perch
•Set aside fillets on a plate until all are completely coated.
•Heat a fry pan to medium high heat. Melt the 1/2 cup butter.
•Place a coated fillet in the hot pan and cook until golden brown (approx. 3 minutes per side).  Flip fillet to cook the second side. Remove fillet and place in oven, on rack lined pan to drain and keep warm. Fry remaining fillets, adding butter [1 tablespoon at a time] to the pan between fillets if necessary.
•When all the fillets are cooked, add remaining butter to the hot fry pan and squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon. Stir the butter and juice scraping the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
•Plate the browned perch fillets and pour the hot butter and lemon juice over them [or serve on the side for dipping]. Serve with lemon wedges. Serves 4.
Pan Fried PerchRecipe adapted from http://thisfish.info

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