FISH FRY DAY: 4 recipes for the Lenten season


Lent. It’s a time for reflection. A time for humility. And definitely a time for fish.

For most American Christians, Lent began on Feb. 26 (for the Eastern Orthodox churches, it began Monday). That means believers will spend the next seven Fridays avoiding meat.

A large number of people during Lent turn instead to fish (though the Orthodox churches avoid fish with backbones, as well).

For this Lenten season, I made four appropriate dishes, two with fish and two with shellfish.


Yield: 2 to 4 servings

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 pound catfish fillets
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs or cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • Lemon wedges
  1. Pour the milk into a bowl and let the catfish soak in it while you heat about 1 1/2 inches of oil in a large pan to about 375 degrees. Mix the panko or cornmeal in a plastic bag with the peppers and salt.
  2. Drain the fillets; then shake them in the panko in the bag. Shake off any excess coating and fry them until golden brown on both sides, a total of about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Per serving (based on 4): 402 calories; 19 g fat; 13 g saturated fat; 66 mg cholesterol; 25 g protein; 33 g carbohydrate; 7 g sugar; 4 g fiber; 643 mg sodium; 125 mg calcium

Adapted from “Fish” by Mark Bittman


Yield: 6 servings

  • 5 carrots, peeled and trimmed
  • 3/4 pound large mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup scallions cut into 2-inch lengths
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill leaves
  • 2 pounds salmon fillets, cut into 6 equal-size pieces
  • 6 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 6 tablespoons dry white wine
  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
  2. Spread a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil or parchment paper on a flat surface. Invert a 12-inch round cake pan on the foil and trace around the pan with a sharp knife to make a 12-inch circle. Repeat this until you have 6 circles.
  3. Cut the carrots crosswise into 1-inch lengths. Cut each piece lengthwise into matchstick strips.
  4. Cut off and discard the stem of each mushroom and cut the cap into thin slices.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and lemon juice. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the carrots, scallions and salt; then cover and cook 7 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle the dill on top and stir well. Cover and set aside.
  6. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan. Place the foil rounds on a flat surface and brush them with the melted butter. Spoon equal portions of the carrot mixture on each circle slightly below the center, leaving a margin large enough to fold over.
  7. Lay a slice of salmon over each mound of vegetables. Sprinkle each serving with a tablespoon of shallots, a tablespoon of wine and salt and pepper.
  8. Fold the foil to completely enclose the contents, while leaving some room for expansion. Crimp the seal as tightly as possible. Arrange the packages on a baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes.

Per serving: 351 calories; 18 g fat; 6 g saturated fat; 104 mg cholesterol; 33 g protein; 10 g carbohydrate; 5 g sugar; 3 g fiber; 496 mg sodium; 48 mg calcium

Adapted from “The Seafood Cookbook; Classic to Contemporary” by Pierre Franey and Bryan Miller


Yield: 4 servings

  • 12 ounces shrimp, shelled but with the tail left on if possible
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger, divided
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons medium-dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons oil (not olive)
  • 1/2 cup cubed red bell peppers
  • 1/2 bunch watercress with bottom 1 inch of the stems cut off, optional
  • Hot cooked rice or Asian noodles
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the shrimp, soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the ginger, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of the garlic, pepper and sherry. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Drain shrimp, retaining the marinade.
  2. Mix the water with the cornstarch and the reserved marinade and stir well to dissolve the cornstarch. In a small saucepan, bring the mixture to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the shrimp, the remaining 1 teaspoon of garlic and remaining 3/4 teaspoon of ginger. Stir fry over high heat for 30 seconds. Add the sweet red peppers and cook, stirring, for another 30 seconds. Add the sauce and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove pan from heat and immediately add the watercress, if using. Serve at once over rice or Asian noodles.

Per serving (using 2 cups total cooked white rice): 297 calories; 8 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 137mg cholesterol; 24 g protein; 32 g carbohydrate; 3 g sugar; no fiber; 481 mg sodium; 65 mg calcium

Recipe from “The Frog-Commissary Cookbook” by Steven Poses, Anne Clark and Becky Roller


Yield: 4 servings

  • 4 to 6 ounces portobello mushrooms
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 8 ounces bowtie pasta
  • Vegetable oil (not olive)
  • 1 1/2 pounds sea scallops
  • 1 cup chopped scallions, white parts only, or sweet onions
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and coarsely chop them. Slice the caps and set aside.
  2. Place the mushroom stems and the cream in a small, nonreactive saucepan. Bring the cream to a boil and gently boil for at least 10 minutes or until the cream is reduced by half. Pour in the wine and boil for 2 to 3 minutes longer. Set the mixture aside. This sauce can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before using.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook until cooked through but still firm, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the brand.
  4. Meanwhile, put enough oil in a very hot pan to film it lightly. Add the scallops and sear lightly on both sides (they will continue to cook as the recipe continues); their surface should be a light, nutty brown. Add the mushroom caps, scallions and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes or until the mushrooms are barely cooked through. Stir in the reserved mushroom sauce and reheat gently.
  5. Drain the pasta thoroughly and mix with the scallop mixture. Sprinkle with the parsley. Season liberally with salt and pepper to taste.

Per serving: 439 calories; 16 g fat; 10 g saturated fat; 62 mg cholesterol; 23 g protein; 62 g carbohydrate; 4 g sugar; 3 g fiber; 1,059 mg sodium; 58 mg calcium

Adapted from “The New Legal Sea Foods Cookbook” by Roger Berkowitz and Jane Doerfer


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