Catfish with Jalapeno Tarter Sauce and Candied-Bacon Green Beans

You know I live in the South, right?

Well if you didn’t…you’d know now.

This is a meal from my highly successful week of menu planning (last week) and since I was just getting ready to post the menu for this week, I thought I’d better wrap up the last of the missing recipes.

I’ve been making fish this way for several years and I like it because, while it seems like it is fried, the coating is very thin and you hardly use any oil. The pan is practically dry…you’ll see.

You start with corn meal and bread crumbs, about 1/2 and 1/2, with salt and pepper.

Then it’s a very simple assembly line: fish (and any light, thin fish fillet will do), egg whites beaten until frothy, bread crumb/cornmeal mixture and a clean plate.

Something happens when you make egg whites all frothy like that…it really helps the dry coating adhere while still staying nice and light. No gloppy milk and egg mixture. It’s quite nice.

If you gently press the fish into the dry mixture, it will just adhere right to it. Flip and repeat…I try to make sure to cover all the edges and sides, too. And then set them on the clean plate.

Then you heat about 2 TB of olive oil and 1 pat of butter in a large (12″) skillet. It won’t seem like a lot – it’s not. That’s part of the beauty of this recipe. When the butter stops foaming, place 2-3 of the fillets in the skillet.  Cook about 3 minutes on one side and 2-3 minutes on the other.

Can you tell that the pan is virtually dry compared to how most pans look when you are frying something? I’m always a little amazed that it works out.

See? Crazy, huh?

And yet when you flip them…

crispity crunchity!

Now, let’s get to the green beans.

Start with bacon. And not just plain old bacon, but bacon that has been dredged in just a little bit of sugar.

God placed a lot of animals on this planet who bring tremendous pleasure to us humans. I consider the pig to be very near the top of that list. Can I get an “amen?”

Once the bacon is cooked/caramelized, remove it and then use part of the bacon drippings to cook some onions before you add the green beans. I like the green beans to get just a little bit of color on them before I turn the heat down and partially put a cover over the pan so they can steam just a bit. I will toss in a few splashes of chicken broth to get the steam going for a few minutes with the lid partly on and then let it cook off so the beans sauté and take on a little color. Then maybe a little more steam. It’s like a combination sauté/steam method…highly technical…can you tell? You toss the candied-bacon back on top right before you serve.

Here’s a helpful hint: when you set the bacon aside after it cooks, resist the temptation to drain it on a paper towel like you might always do. That thin sugar coating is a relative of super glue and if it dries on a paper  towel, you’ll have to come up with some way to explain all the tiny white pieces of “seasoning” on your bacon. (Also, turns out, you can partly rinse cooked bacon if you are really quick…it won’t mess it up and those little paper bits just come right off.)

The full fish recipe (with tarter sauce) is below…enjoy!!

Fried Fish with Jalapeño Tarter Sauce

from Cook’s Country

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 TB chopped, pickled jalapeños

6 T finely chopped scallions, divided

2 teaspoons lime juice

3/4 cup cornmeal

3/4 cup plain bread crumbs

lime wedges for serving

4 skinless trout, catfish, flounder fillets (5-7 oz each, thin)

5 TB olive oil, divided

2 TB butter, divided

salt/pepper

2 large egg whites

Combine mayonnaise, jalapeños, 2T scallions and lime juice in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Place a heatproof serving platter in the oven at 200°. Combine the bread crumbs, corn meal, salt, pepper and remaining scallions in a shallow bowl or plate. Whisk egg whites until foamy. Season fillets with salt/pepper. One at a time, dip fillets in egg whites and then in bread crumb mixture, pressing down firmly to help coating adhere. Set aside in a single layer on a large plate. Heat 1 TB butter and 2-3 TB olive oil in a large skillet. When the butter stops foaming place half the fillets in the skillet and cook 3 minutes. Flip and cook the second side until the thickest part of the fillet flakes…another 2-3 minutes. Transfer the fillets to the heated platter. Repeat with remaining oil, butter and fish. Serve immediately with mayo and lime wedges.

Also: this fish freezes surprisingly well and the coating holds up to reheat in the oven or on the stove top. It’s a great way to have homemade, oven-ready fish sticks on hand if your kids like that kind of thing. Just cut the fillets in smaller pieces and follow the same method.

 

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