Some of my fondest childhood memories are of floating around northern Virginia lakes in a rowboat with my dad during the steamy, hot days of mid-summer. Way back before catch-and-release was the exception, rather than the rule, if we caught it – we ate it. The fish, mostly bluegill and crappie, hung over the boat on a stringer in 90 degree water. Then, drop the stringer into the rusty metal bucket full of lake water for the ride home. Today’s anglers fully appreciate the importance of keeping their catch on ice until they can be properly processed.
Frying whole, small fish sure saves time. Scale ‘em, clean ‘em and fry ‘em. This is true finger food, meant to be eaten with your hands, not a knife and fork.
6 – 8 panfish, cleaned and dressed, heads removed
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup dry roasted peanuts, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Western Style Gourmet Fish Seasoning
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
peanut oil for frying
Spicy Tartar Sauce
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
1/4 teaspoon Western Style Cajun Campfire
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
To prepare tartar sauce, combine all ingredients and refrigerate for 1 hour.
In a shallow bowl, mix bread crumbs, cornmeal, Parmesan cheese, ground peanuts and Western Style Gourmet Fish Seasoning. Coat each fish with flour, then dip in buttermilk, then coat evenly with crumb mixture.
In a large skillet, heat 1 – 2 inches of oil over medium high heat. Add fish and fry on both sides until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and season with additional Western Style Gourmet Fish Seasoning.
-Scott Leysath, HuntFishCook TV