Like when the CSA veggies are piling up. Or I am having a bad weight week. And if I’ve had a couple bad restaurant meals in a row, well…
Recently, my husband and I tried out a new restaurant–and got a terrible fish fry. This made me wonder… How hard would it be to make pan-fried perch at home?
Perch are the darlings of the Wisconsin fish fry. Small, tender and flavorful, they go for a premium price—and are well worth it! The only trick is not to overwhelm their delicate flavor with thick breading or heavy oil.
The Pan-fried Perch Experiment
To investigate this question, I bought a pound of perch–then decided to go the “America’s Test Kitchen” route. I tried four different oils for frying: butter, sustainable palm oil, coconut oil, and olive oil.
For the breading, I tried: flour alone; flour, egg, flour; flour, egg, breadcrumbs; and egg, flour.
We fried one fillet at a time, in all the different combinations. And it was fun almost burning our fingers and tongues as the latest came out of the pan!
In the end, the breading we liked best was egg followed by flour. This produced a light coating that added flavor without smothering the fish. For the frying oil, palm and coconut oil were clearly the losers–and we were surprised when olive oil edged out butter. Sautéing in healthy olive oil–another reason to eat at home!
I served it with coleslaw (to kill a couple CSA veggies) and rye bread for a lighter presentation. And of course a nice beer–those saved calories have to go somewhere…
Now you may be wondering if this recipe can be used for other types of fish. I hadn’t considered it, but before I knew it, my daughter was using it to make pan fried cod. Now cod is a much different fish, thicker and meatier, but still delicious lightly floured. And before you knew it we had done fried rockfish and pollack. Yum. And yum!
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 eggs
- 2 T milk or water
- 1 1/2 lbs lake perch fillets
- olive oil for frying
- Combine flour, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl and mix well.
- In a second bowl, beat eggs with milk or water.
- Dip perch fillets in the egg mixture, then the flour. Set aside while you do the remaining fish.
- Heat oil until hot but not smoking. Fry fish fillets a couple minutes per side or until golden and cooked through.
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