Thursday, April 2, 2015

Friday Night Flounder Fish Fry

     All U Can Eat Flounder!
     The Friday Night Fish Fry restaurant special started at some time in the mid 1900's.  A Friday Night Fish Fry is also a church dining hall or local community organization meatless Friday dining event.  As one can guess, church and community Friday Night Fish Fry events originated long before the the All U Can Eat Fish Fry became a popular restaurant special.
     Going out on a Friday night for All U Can Eat Fried Fish still is a popular thing to do.  These Friday night specials are popular all up and down the eastern seaboard.  In coastal towns from Georgia through the Carolinas and up north through New Jersey, Fried Flounder was usually the top choice for the Fish Fry Special.
     At lakefront fishing communities in southern states, Fried Catfish is number one at local restaurant Friday Night Fish Fries.  All You Can Eat Fried Catfish Restaurants are a great reason to visit towns near big freshwater fisheries like Lake Okeechobee.  I remember a really good local Fried Catfish Restaurant that was in the town of Clewiston that had a huge yellow and black billboard sign that was impossible to miss while driving by.

     Those who can remember the old Howard Johnson's Restaurant chain, may recall the "Friday Night All You Can Eat Flounder or Fried Clams Special" that was always used to be posted on their restaurant marquis.  Way back when Howard Johnson's was a competitive restaurant chain, quality was number one.  All fish was fresh and it was breaded to order.  I remember dining as a kid with parents in the early 1960's.  Friday night at the good old "HoJo" was the busiest night of the week. The place was jammed up with plenty of customers waiting in line to get a table and to munch on unlimited amounts of fish.

     Before european settlers arrived in America, Native American tribes had big fish fry events.  Tribes near the Great Lakes were famous for throwing a big fish fry.  Before the european settlers showed up, there were times when there were so many fish in the water, that the fish literally jumped into the fry pot!
     Most people will agree with the old saying of "When fish is fresh off the boat, it needs no sauces or special preparation or sauces!"  By the time that fresh fish sits at the market, often it is no longer all that fresh.  In this modern age the exception to the "Fresh is best rule" is Cryovac Packaged Frozen Fish, which is renowned as being the best frozen fish product ever created.
     Cryovac Packaged Frozen Fish actually is in better condition than most fresh fish at a seafood market after it is thawed.  This packaging method eliminates waste and spoilage.  Cryovac Frozen Fish is now a great option that can help to increase seafood stock sustainability.

     Depending on the location, perch, bass, bluegill, haddock, catfish, cod, smelts or flounder the most popular local fish species for a Friday Night Fish Fry.  It did not matter who you were, if you were at a local lake or local beachfront community, you ate the local fish.  Unfortunately, many fish species have been fished to the point of extinction in recent years, so not every local Fish Fry event gets the stamp of approval.
     It is always best to ask what kind of fish it is and check the fish sustainability status before delving in.  As one can see, gluttony and greed is the reason why certain fish go extinct and there is no use dining on a big pile of fish that are in critically low numbers, then later having guilty feelings.
     A Seafood Sustainability Phone App can be found at this website.  This App is very easy to use and there is no excuse to not dine on seafood responsibly!
     • Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch
     *Currently, Flounder from several fisheries in the Pacific Northwest are in sustainable numbers.  Flounder species from many East Coast fisheries are on the do not consume list, because the numbers are low.  Sustainability ratings can change in a short time, so it is always best to check shortly before making a purchase.  In the end, it is the consumer that is responsible for ocean seafood stock!

     Today's recipe is like a small town Friday Night Fish Fry platter.  Cole slaw, a choice of potato and  lemon ate the traditional accompaniments on the plate.  Crispy Shoe String Potatoes are a nice option for a fried fish dinner.  At a Fish Fry, tartar sauce, hot sauce, malt vinegar or tabasco pepper vinegar are always served on the side.  Cocktail Sauce and ketchup are optional condiments at a traditional Friday Nigh Fish Fry.
     Fish House Style Sweet Cole Slaw:
     This recipe yields 2 to 3 good size portions of slaw!
     This is a standard milk and mayonnaise slaw that has a gentle flavor.  I will be transferring other slaw recipes, like buttermilk slaw and sweet vinegar slaw, to this comfort food website in the near future.
     Step 1:  Place 5 cups of very thin sliced cabbage in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/4 cup of very thin sliced carrot strips for color.
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced onion.
     Add 1/3 cup of milk.
     Add 1/3 cup of mayonnaise.
     Add 2 tablespoons of sugar.
     Add 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Add 1 pinch of ground celery seed.
     Step 2:  Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Refrigerate the slaw for 20 minutes, before tasting.  The water in the cabbage will be released when it wilts and the dressing will become thinner.
     Taste the dressing.  Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
     Refrigerate the cole slaw till it is served.
     Shoe String Potatoes: 
     This recipe yields 1 large portion.
     Step 1:  Cut a 6 ounce to 8 ounce peeled russet potato lengthwise into very thin slices.  (about 1/8" to 3/16" thick)
     Stack the slices up on a cutting board and cut them into long thin strips.
     Step 2:  Heat 8" of vegetable frying oil (or lard) in a high sided pot to 360ºF.
     Step 3:  Sprinkle the thin potato strips into the frying oil, a few small bunches at a time, so they do not cause excessive oil foaming.
     Gently toss the shoe string potatoes in the oil with a long handled fryer net, so the potato strips do not stick together.
     Fry the shoestring potatoes, till they are crispy golden brown.  (CGB!)
     Step 4:  Scoop the finished shoestring potatoes out of the hot oil with a fryer net.
     Place the fries on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Sprinkle some sea salt over the crispy shoe string potatoes.
     Keep the shoestring fries warm on a stove top.
     *Keep the frying oil in the pot at 360ºF, so the fish can be fried!
     Flounder Fish Fry: 
     This recipe yields 1 hearty large portion.  
     The "Ancient Chinese Secret" to limiting fish consumption at an restaurant style All U Can Eat Fish Fry lies in the breading mixture.  If ground chick pea flour, cracker meal, corn meal or masa harina are used to make the breading mix, customers will get a full belly feeling much faster!  Cayenne pPepper guarantees that more drinks will be sold!  
     Step 1:  Place 1 large egg in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 ounce of milk.
     Whisk the mixture till it is blended.
     Set the egg wash aside.
     Step 2:  Place 1 cup of cracker meal in a second mixing bowl.
     Add 1 cup of corn meal.
     Add 1/2 cup of masa harina (Nixtamal Corn Flour).
     Add 1/4 cup of all purpose flour.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
     Mix the breading mixture together.
     Set the breading mixture aside.
     Step 3:  Cut 10 ounces of flounder filets into wide strips that weigh about 2 1/2 to 3 ounces apiece.
     Step 4:  Dredge the flounder pieces in plain flour.
     Dip the floured flounder in the egg wash.
     Dredge the egg washed flounder pieces, one at a time, in the fish fry breading mixture.
     Step 5:  Place each breaded flounder pieces in the pot of 360ºF frying oil.
     Fry the breaded flounder pieces, till they are fully cooked and golden brown.
     Step 6:  Use a fryer net to place the fried flounder pieces on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Keep the flounder warm on a stove top.
     Friday Night Flounder Fish Fry Platter: 
     Step 1:  Cut a lemon crown with a paring knife.
     Sprinkle a little bit of paprika and chopped parsley on the lemon crown.
     Step 2:  Place a few mixed baby lettuce leaves on a plate as a bed for the cole slaw.
     Place a scoop of the sweet cole slaw on the bed of lettuce.   (Be sure to drain off any excess slaw dressing.)
     Step 3:  Mound the shoestring fries on half of the plate as a bed for the flounder.
     Place the fried flounder pieces on top of the shoestring fries.
     Place the lemon crown next to the cole slaw.
     Garnish the plate with a parsley sprig.
     Serve with tartar sauce, tabasco vinegar and hot sauce on the side.
     Be sure to make a few batches if you crave that All U Can Eat Friday Night Fish Fry experience!             

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