Lenten fish recipes: Economical and delicious!
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CATHOLIC ONLINE - For observant Catholics, fish on Fridays is more than a sacrifice. It can also be a bit of a financial pinch. If you live by the sea or a lake and can catch your supply of fish for dinner, then there is no problem. Many of us, however, don't have that year-round access to fresh seafood and must instead rely on the local grocery store.
LENT ON THE CHEAP - Imitation crab cakes make for an elegant seafood meal without costing an arm and a leg because they are made of inexpensive pollock.
That's where the fish really start "biting" - in your wallet or purse. Most fish begin at $5.99 per pound, which is a lot more than the retail price by weight of, say, hamburger or pork. Tuna sandwiches or casseroles can be an inexpensive option. The breaded-and-frozen fish sticks like Mrs. Paul's or possibly even a drive-thru trip for a McDonalds fillet-of-fish may begin to look appealing. But these, too, come at a price that does not reflect a savings on the high price of seafood.
Flip through your recipe book, and you'll find all kinds of wonderful-sounding fish recipes - involving swordfish, mahi-mahi, Chilean sea bass, lobster, clams, and other fish way out of most families' price ranges. Substituting cheaper fish like catfish or pollock might not be an option in most recipes, as the difference between a thick-cut fresh bass and a thinner whitefish fillet in some recipes may spell the difference between a delicious meal and a disaster. So what is a good Catholic to do?
Catholic Online comes to the rescue with a handful of recipes - from the simple to the more elegant - that use inexpensive varieties of fish:
Imitation Crab Cakes
Pollock makes a great fish for "imitation" crab recipes. In fact, if you buy "imitation crab" at your grocer, it most likely is pollock.
1-2 lbs. pollock fillets
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/2 tsp dry mustard (or 2 tbsp prepared mustard)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
1) If you bought the fish frozen, thaw it in warm water for 15-20 minutes, then cover it with water in a sauce pan and steam for 15-20 minutes. Pour off the water and let the fish cool.
2) Place diced onion in large mixing bowl. Add seasoned bread crumbs and grated Parmesan cheese. Add the cooked pollock, breaking it up by hand into very small pieces. Mix these ingredients.
3) Add mayonnaise or salad dressing, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Add a dash of cayenne pepper if desired. Mix again, then crack two eggs into the mixture. Mix yet again.
4) Form the mixture with your hands into cakes about an inch thick and about 4 inches across. Lay each cake onto a plate of the seasoned bread crumbs, turning each cake over so that both sides are covered with the crumbs.
5) When all the cakes are breaded, lightly brown them in a pan with a tiny bit of oil. As each cake is browned, remove it to a baking sheet.
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6) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake crab cakes for 30 minutes.
7) Serve with tartar sauce, horseradish, or any other fish condiment. Serves 6 people.
This dish goes well with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. Even the kids will enjoy it!
2 lbs. pollock fillets
1 can (10.75 oz.) cream of mushroom soup
1 onion, sliced thinly
1 cup shredded cheese
Salt and pepper to tase
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 2-quart casserole dish.
2) Arrange fillets in the casserole dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Layer onion slices over the fish, then spread the canned mushroom soup over everything. Top with shredded cheese.
3) Bake for 40 minutes or until bubbles appear and fish flakes easily. Makes 4-6 servings.
Sautéed Lemon Pepper Catfish
Catfish is generally inexpensive and is available nearly year-round. It can be an acquired taste for some, but many Americans enjoy it frequently. Give it a try.
Four 7-ounce catfish fillets, each one-half inch thick
Salt and black pepper (preferably coarse ground)
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 cup flour
4 tsp butter
4 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dry catfish fillets on paper towels if they're damp. Season the fillets on both sides with salt and a generous amount of black pepper, lightly pressing the pepper into the fillets. Drizzle them with a tablespoon of lemon juice, rubbing it in all over, and let the fillets sit for 5-10 minutes, uncovered.
2) In one large or two small ovenproof skillets, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Dredge catfish fillets in flour and pat off excess. While flouring fillets, raise the heat under the skillets to high and add butter.
3) As soon as the butter has frothed, place the fillets in the pan, round side down. Sauteed until they're deep golden brown on the first side, 4-5 minutes.
4) Turn fillets over and place pan(s) in oven. Cook fillets until they're opaque all the way through, 4-5 minutes more. To check, make a small cut into the thickest part of the fillet. If they're done, remove pan from oven.
5) Place catfish fillets on dinner plates. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon of lemon juice, sprinkle with chopped basil, and serve immediately. Serves 4-6.
Cajun Chablis Catfish
You should plan this meal a day ahead due to the marinating time, but it's well worth the wait.
8 large catfish fillets
1 cup lemon or lime juice
1-1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper flakes
1 tsp crushed basil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup Chablis wine
1/4 cup corn oil or peanut oil
1/2 tsp tarragon, dried
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp chopped scallion greens
2 tbsp black pepper (fresh preferred()
1) Mix all ingredients, then cover and refrigerate for 8-24 hours. Turn catfish fillets over every 4-6 hours.
2) Broil or grill until cooked and ready to eat. Serves 8.
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