Monday, February 6, 2012

Fried Fish with Zucchini Cutlets

fried fish & fried zucchini
Fried fish & zucchini cutlets
I don't eat much fried food, and when I do, it's usually lightly breaded and pan-fried in my cast-iron skillet rather than deep-fried.  Last Friday, a serious craving for fried fish and veggies hit me, so I made this simple dinner and served it with a side of kale seasoned with a few splashes of George's Special Barbecue Sauce.  That might sound a little odd, but the vinegar in this North Carolina BBQ sauce is a natural complement to cooked greens while the tomato in the sauce mellows any sharpness in the kale or vinegar with just a hint of sweetness.  George's Special BBQ Sauce also has a little heat to it, which perked up this healthy side dish without making it too spicy.  The recipe and instructions below for the fried fish and zucchini are for two servings, but you can multiply the quantities as desired.

sliced zucchini
Baby zucchini cutlets
Back to the fish and zucchini...  I used tilapia fillets but catfish, flounder and other similar mild fish fillets will work just fine.  I used 3 small "baby" zucchini (about 4" long and 1" in diameter), trimmed off the ends, sliced each zucchini in half lengthwise, and then carefully sliced each half lengthwise into thin "cutlets" (2 or 3 per half).

Plan on having at least 3/4 cup of seafood breading for this amount of zucchini and two smallish fillets of fish.  A large, well-seasoned cast-iron skillet is an ideal choice for this recipe, but any large frying pan should work.  If you decide to experiment with "oven-frying" this recipe in order to cut back on fat, please leave a comment with your results and instructions.  I toyed with the idea of trying to "oven fry" the fish and zucchini under the broiler, but realized what I was really craving was the rich, decadent flavor and aroma of food fried in bacon fat.

Ingredients for 2 servings
2 fish fillets (tilapia, flounder, catfish or other mild fish)
3 or 4 small or "baby" zucchini, trimmed & sliced lengthwise into thin cutlets as described above
1 egg
3/4 cup milk (I used skim)
3/4 cup or more of your favorite fish fry breading mix
Oil or bacon fat for frying

frying zucchini
Breaded zucchini frying
Add enough oil or bacon fat to a large skillet or frying pan to a depth of about 1/4" or so, and heat over medium-high heat.  Beat the egg in a small bowl, then whisk in the milk.  Place the zucchini cutlets in a gallon-size zip-top plastic bag, pour in the egg-milk mixture, seal the bag and shake to evenly coat all of the zucchini cutlets with the mixture.  Spread about half of the seafood breading mix on a large flat place.  Remove the zucchini cutlets from the plastic bag one at a time, shaking off excess liquid, then dredge with fish fry mix to coat on both sides.  Carefully place the breaded cutlets in the hot skillet and fry for several minutes per side until golden brown on both.

While the zucchini is frying, cover a couple of plates or a cookie sheet with paper towels--you'll use this to drain excess grease from the fried food--and preheat your oven to "warm" (usually 200°F) so that you can keep the fried zucchini warm while you fry the fish.  As the zucchini cutlets are done, use a slotted spatula or spoon to remove from skillet and place on the paper towel-covered plates to drain, keeping them warm in the oven as needed (depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to fry in two or more batches).
frying fish & zucchini
Frying fish & zucchini

As you finish frying the zucchini, place the fish fillets in the plastic bag with the egg-milk mixture, seal and shake to coat.  Add the rest of the fry mix to your dredging plate, remove each fillet from the bag, shaking off excess liquid, and dredge in the mix to coat on both sides (add additional breading mix if needed).  Fry in the same skillet, carefully turning once, until golden brown on both sides.  Serve hot with the zucchini, and your favorite seafood condiment such as cocktail sauce or tartar sauce.

Zestfully yours,

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