Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Lucky 13 Recipe II: Dan My Man's Lighter Fish Nuggets and Fried Pickles - And a Confession

Every once in  a while this home cook's recipes don't work.  But I don't feel so bad when I see Bobby Flay's test kitchen helpers tell him that he needs to work on something during an episode of one of my favorite shows, "Thowdown." 

Today, I'd like to confess to you that I tried something new, and I failed.  But hey, life is all about taking risks, right?   Can't play it safe; not even in the kitchen. 

Such was the case with the lamb shank I cooked for our 13th anniversary.  Don't get me wrong;  it was flavorful.  The "lemon broth" I made to go over the lamb and the veggies gave this dish a hearty deconstructed "stew-like" quality. 

But I'd never tried to roast lamb shank before.  I had only braised it.  Had I taken the time to do a Google search or gone here Food Network Cooking Guide for Lamb, I would have quickly learned that the butcher's instructions given when I purchased the shank weren't going to work as I thought they would.  I guess you can roast lamb shank, but it takes some special way of doing it which I haven't mastered yet.

                                         My failed attempt at a Deconstructed Lamb Stew
                                                  Tasty, but it wasn't quite there...

I made a promise to you all when I started this blog that I wouldn't post any recipes that didn't work.  My photos might not always turn our perfectly because I am not a great photographer.  I am still learning the art of plating.   That's what makes this blog my "adventure."  But I want the recipes that I post for you to work when you try to recreate them. 

I hope you will say, "Mary Kay, I appreciate your candor and you not wanting me to waste my time making something that won't turn out that good.  Oh, and by the way, you are looking pretty foxy these days.  I can tell that power yoga you are doing is really working."

...Maybe the later is wishful thinking on my part.  :.)

Okay, let's get serious! 

I always know that Dan's fried fish recipes turn out wonderfully.  He is my loving husband and my "fry daddy."  As promised, I am bringing you his creation tonight.

We don't fry food very often, for obvious health reasons.  When we do, we've learned to make it a little lighter.  Like any indulgence, this is a once every few month deal - nothing to be put into your regular meal rotation.  Let's face it; it's hard to make anything fried truly "healthy."

It was only a few years ago when Dan and I really started "cooking."  Up until then, we opened a lot of boxes.  Neither of us has had any formal culinary training - we both watch a lot of Food Network!   And now look at us - winning cooking contests - getting recipes published.  

Cooking is something that we love doing together.  When I am developing a recipe, he will help me gather ingredients and vice versa.  The couple who cooks together, stays together. 

Over the years, Dan's prepared other cook's "fried" fish recipes and they've turned out great.  And he's often used boxed beer batter to make the process either.  But now he's come up with his own beer batter recipe that is light and fluffy and frankly, it's going to knock your socks off.

So here we go:


60 ounces canola or vegetable oil
1 lb. white fish, such as snapper, sole or flounder
1/2 cup hamburger dill chips
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt, plus a little extra for seasoning
1/2 tsp. dried dill weed
1 large clove garlic, minced (about 1 tbs.)
1 tbs. paprika
1 tbs. seafood seasoning
1 tsp. onion powder
1 extra large egg
8-10 ounces light beer


A couple of unpeeled garlic cloves (optional)
Basil and parsley (optional)


Preheat oil to 360 degrees.  Dan recommends that you use a candy thermometer. 
If using the unpeeled garlic and herbs (recommended), these are added to the oil while it is preheated.  Remove herbs before adding the fish and discard.  This step will "infuse" the oil with wonderful flavor. 

In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, salt, pepper, dill weed, minced garlic, paprika, seafood seasoning, and onion powder.  Add egg.  Using a fork, blend the egg with the dry ingredients until mixed well.  You will start to see "pearls" form from the wet flour. 

Add in the beer and whisk well until completely blended. 

Cut fish into nuggets or bite-sized pieces.  Season with a little salt.  This helps to "dry" the fish slightly and makes the batter stick.

Dip fish into batter and CAREFULLY drop into hot oil.  Cook for about a total of three minutes.  Do not over crowed the pan - cook in batches.   Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.  Salt the batches of fish lightly as they come out of the oil. 

Repeat the batter and frying process with the pickles, but do not salt the pickles before or after cooking as they are salty.  The pickles may only take about 2 minutes.  Adjust cooking time accordingly.

Serve immediately.

See you soon!  Oh, I am working on an un-stuffed cabbage recipe tonight. If that works, I might bring that to you later this week instead. 


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