Fresh fish has always been expensive but now that our ocean fisheries have been nearly decimated, prices are getting a bit nutty. Good, wild caught, fresh and unfrozen salmon, tuna, swordfish and halibut hover around $29 a pound. HG feels that paying that much for a simple piece of fish is a bit self indulgent. Therefore, HG is opting for moderately priced, farm raised fish like tilapia and catfish. Older fish farms were ecological disasters — pumping filth into the environment and shipping out muddy tasting, chemically processed product. Some modern farms have really cleaned up their act and become more environmentally sound with the result that the fish are healthier and quite palatable. Make sure to seek out fish from these type of farms (Whole Foods has very strict guidelines for their farmed fish purveyors — so buying through them is a good bet).
Here’s a very good way of cooking them. Coat the fish in a mixture of Hellman’s mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. Roll the fish in Louisiana Fish Fry or Zatarain’s Fish Fry or panko (crushed fine). Fry in a mixture of grapeseed oil and brown butter. After taking the fish out of the pan, melt a bit more butter with lemon juice, capers and a few drops of Tabasco. Pour this flavorful sauce over the crispy fish.
During HG’s college days at the City College West Harlem campus, HG enjoyed very cheap and very good fried catfish sandwiches. The breaded catfish was fried in lard (like cast iron pans, a staple of Harlem fry cooks), doused in a blazing hot pepper sauce and served between two slices of Wonder or Silvercup bread. It was accompanied by cole slaw or potato salad. HG’s version of fried fish is just a little bit fancier.