When fishing for good recipes, here's a good place to get started


January 30, 1994|By GARY DIAMOND

Within the next few weeks, large numbers of suckers will begin spawning in Deer Creek, Little Gunpowder River and other clear, cold Harford County streams.

Although this species is extremely bony, the meat is firm, flaky and has an excellent flavor. It can be prepared using a variety of methods, but like most fish, it tastes best when skinned and filleted.

Catching suckers isn't difficult. All you need is a lightweight fishing outfit, a pack of small hooks, a few pieces of split-shot, a dozen worms and lots of patience. Suckers, like most species of fish found in cold water, are not highly aggressive, but they will take a worm if the opportunity presents itself.

Locating suckers is also relatively easy. Look for large boulders, submerged logs or undercut sections of bank situated on the bottom of a deep pool. The fish rest in the backwash where they wait for small morsels of food.

At the slightest indication of a strike, set the hook and hang on. Suckers put up a pretty good battle for their relatively small size.

According to most dietitians, fish, especially broiled fillets, are extremely high in protein and low in calories and have little or no cholesterol. However, that's if you eliminate butter, margarine, salt and other spices. Most foods prepared in this manner taste like baked cardboard.

I like the taste of things containing fat, salt and cholesterol, but in the interest of good health, I began experimenting with new and exciting ways to cook fish.

Some of the following recipes fit the healthy food criteria while others are only for those unconcerned about their intake of fat, sodium and other bad things that taste good.

Tautog supreme

This dish can be used with any delicately textured, light flavored, white-meat fish. It lends itself well to sucker and tautog, but also can be used with striped bass, large white perch, flounder and other nonoily species.

Ingredients: Two pounds skinless tautog fillets, salt, pepper, Old Bay seafood seasoning, light mayonnaise, dried parsley flakes.

Preparation: Rinse fillets in fresh water and pat dry with paper towels. Sit the fillets on a broiler pan sprayed with nonstick vegetable oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in a preheated 325-degree oven for about 20 minutes or until the meat easily flakes.

Coat the fillets with a half-inch thick layer of mayonnaise, sprinkle with Old Bay seafood seasoning, switch the oven to broil and broil the fillets for an additional five minutes or until the mayonnaise begins to brown. Remove from the oven, garnish with parsley flakes and serve hot.

Beer batter tautog

Ingredients: Two pounds of skinless, fresh tautog fillets, one cup all-purpose flour, three tablespoons cornstarch, one teaspoon salt, 1/2 -teaspoon paprika, 1/2 -teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, one cup beer, one tablespoon vegetable oil.

Preparation: Using an electric mixer, place all dry ingredients in a deep bowl, beating for about three minutes. Add vegetable oil and beer, and continue to blend until the mixture is creamy smooth.

Rinse the fillets thoroughly with fresh water, blot dry with paper towels, dip in batter and deep fry in hot vegetable oil until golden brown.

Note: If you're on a low-fat, low-salt, cholesterol-lowering diet, avoid beer batter tautog.

Lemon pepper sea bass

Lemon pepper is readily available at most supermarkets in the spice section, and although its primary ingredient is coarse ground black pepper, its lemon seasonings add an interesting ++ flavor to any seafood dish.

Ingredients: Two pounds of skinless, fresh sea bass fillets, lemon pepper, one tablespoon cornstarch, 3/4 -cup ice-cold water, one tablespoon grated lemon peel, one teaspoon lemon extract, one teaspoon sugar, 1/4 -teaspoon salt, two tablespoons parsley flakes, two tablespoons margarine.

Preparation: Rinse fillets with cold, fresh water, blot with paper // towels and sprinkle on a liberal amount of lemon pepper. Place on a broiler pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake the fillets in a preheated 325-degree oven for approximately 20 minutes, basting frequently with melted butter or margarine.

While the fillets bake, pour the water into a jar, add baking soda, cap and shake vigorously until baking soda is completely dissolved. Place in a small saucepan, cook over medium heat, add remaining ingredients and stir constantly until sauce

becomes thick.

Remove the fillets from the oven, garnish with a sprig of fresh parsley, spoon on the sauce and enjoy.

Sea bass teriyaki

Although teriyaki sauce has been used for more than a century to enhance the flavor of chicken and pork dishes, the sauce rarely is used for preparing seafood. Because regular teriyaki is primarily a marinade for meats, it's consistency is that of water, thereby not really suitable for fish. However, teriyaki also comes in a thick glaze that when used as a baste really enhances the flavor of broiled or baked fish.

Ingredients: two pounds skinless, fresh sea bass fillets, salt, pepper, 12-ounce jar of La-Choy or Uncle Ben's teriyaki glaze. (Note: Uncle Ben's teriyaki is available with chunky vegetables added).

Preparation: Rinse fillets thoroughly with cold, fresh water and blot with paper towels. Add salt and pepper to suit taste and dredge fillets in teriyaki sauce. Bake in a preheated, 325-degree oven on a broiler pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. After about 15 minutes, switch the oven to broil and cook an additional three to five minutes or until the sauce begins to bubble.

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