Since I was 10 years old, my family and extended family have shared a house on a subdivision of Lake Marion (on the Orangeburg County side). Along with swimming and water skiing, fishing was and is one of our favorite activities. The bonus of fishing was that we always had fresh fish to eat … so much so that my dad’s favorite saying every time we put our lines in the water was: “Give a man a fish and you’ve fed him for a day; but teach him to fish and you’ve fed him for a lifetime.” Dad’s and Mom’s efficient “how to” fishing instructions still reap great benefits for us, our children, grandchildren, etc.
On one of my most productive expeditions, my sister and I got into a small boat and she paddled us around the edge of a small section of water. It was a perfect day, and we returned with a stringer loaded with bass, bream and crappie. We cleaned the fish post haste and had a delicious supper of Southern fried fish, hush puppies and baked sweet potatoes. A few days ago, as I was tidying up my small storage room and resituated my best fishing rod, I had a flashback to that lucky day and immediately thought that I need to dedicate a full column to fishing recipes that don’t require much mess and ado, especially if you buy the fish from a local grocer or fish market.
Grilled or baked fish
(This recipe and method will work for pretty much any kind of fish fillets.)
1 cup fresh lemon juice
4 fish fillets (bass, bream, crappie, flounder, tilapia etc.)
Place the fish fillets in a single layer in a microwave-safe dish, the sides and bottom of which have been ‘greased’ with butter or margarine. Evenly drizzle the lemon juice over the fillets. Using a fork, pierce each piece of fish four or five times. Sprinkle them lightly and evenly with lemon pepper and allow them to sit for about 10 minutes so the seasoning can soak in. If you are planning to bake them, have your oven preheated to 350 degrees, slide the dish in and bake for 20 minutes. If you are planning to grill them, have the grill hot, place the fish on a ‘greased’ grill pan and sizzle them on each side for 10 full minutes. Remember that fish that are ‘done’ will flake when with a fork.
Tender baked tilapia
3 large Tilapia fillets (flounder or bass will do)
10-ounce can Campbell’s cream of onion soup (undiluted)
1 sleeve Captain’s wafers
1 stick Land ‘O Lakes butter, melted
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the flounder filets in a lightly greased casserole dish. Pour the onion soup over the fish and smooth it out evenly. Bake fish at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Put the Captain’s wafers in a sealable quart plastic bag and crumble them. In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter, onion powder, garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce. Toss the wafer crumbs in this mixture. Spread this “crumby creation” over the top of the fish and bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer.
(You may use large salmon steaks, tilapia, bass or other fish fillets.)
Butter Flavor Pam or Sprayable I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter
4 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Morton Lite salt
2 (1-pound tilapia) fillets
In a heavy, medium-size skillet, (cast iron is best) spray a heavy layer of Pam or I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. Heat on medium for one minute. Stir in the honey and lemon juice, simmer for about two minutes. Stir again and lightly sprinkle the fillets with salt and pepper. Place them in the skillet and allow them to cook on medium for about 10 minutes. Carefully turn them over. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes. Use a fork to make sure fish flake easily.
Honey-Dijon baked salmon
1-1/2 pounds fresh skin-on salmon fillet
Salt and pepper (to taste)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. In a small bowl combine the soy sauce, honey and Dijon mustard. Whisk in the oil until all ingredients are well combined. Place the salmon filet, skin side down in a medium baking pan or casserole dish. Thoroughly brush the salmon with the sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, brushing occasionally with additional sauce until the salmon is flaky. This makes four six-ounce servings.
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