Frank's panko-fried trout

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Posted on August 22, 2011 at 2:12 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 25 at 4:43 PM

Frank Davis

1 cup
extra virgin olive oil
2 sticks sweet cream butter
10-12 speckled trout fillets, 4-6 ounces each
2 cups all purpose flour (seasoned with salt and pepper)
2 cups EggBeaters or liquid egg mix
5-1/2 cups heavily-seasoned Paneed mix*

First, place a heavy, deep-sided, 12-inch or 14-inch skillet or fry pan on the stove top, put into it a half cup of olive oil plus one stick of butter, and crank up the fire to medium high. Ideally, you want to heat the butter/oil blend to about 375 degrees, but you’ll actually fry at 350 since the temperature will drop when you put in the fish.

Then while the butter/oil is coming to heat, first dredge the fillets in the seasoned flour.

Then dip them into the egg mixture.

And finally, take them out of the liquid eggs and dredge them liberally in the Paneed crumbs (pounding them into the crumbs with the palm of your hand, thereby causing them to totally attach to the fish).

Now follow this next step to the letter:

I recommend you lay out the individual fillets—so that they’re not touching!—on a large piece of freezer paper to allow the crumbs to solidly adhere.

Then allow the fillets to “rest” on the paper for at least three to five minutes so that the coating doesn’t float off when the fish is placed in the hot oil.

Note: Notice how extra effort is taken to insure a good continuous coating of crumbs? It’s what gives the cooked fillets the texture and crunchiness to make the fish special.

Then, when the butter/oil is ready, ease the fillets into the pan one at a time, but don’t overcrowd them—give them room to fry.

At the correct temperature, if the fish are fried for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side, they will come out perfect every time—tender-flaky on the inside and brown and crusty on the outside.

Continue to add extra butter and oil as needed to fry. Oh, and get this!—the trout will turn out almost totally greaseless.

Do the trout in batches, and when they’re done all that’s left is to place them on an ovenproof warming platter. Don’t use brown paper or paper towels or even a cooling rack to drain these trout fillets. . .because there will be nothing to drain! at this point, they’re ready to eat! Of course, if you want to serve all the fillets at the same time then place the platter—uncovered—in a warming oven set at 200 degrees.

A personal suggestion, though: To indulge in the truly gourmet aspect of these fillets, you should be standing at the stove when they come out of the fry pan and eat them piping hot right away.

If that sounds like an approach you’d like, encourage your invited dinner guests to be close by with plate in hand once the frying starts. You won’t believe the difference it’ll make in the palatability of the trout pieces!

So what to serve ’em with? French fries are good, creamed mashed potatoes will do nicely, too, as will potato salad or buttered egg noodles. But my preference has always been a platter of crusted, oven roasted baby red potatoes, oiled and cut into halves.

Of course, for a little added oomph there’s nothing wrong with having an ice cold lettuce wedge laced with family-style Italian dressing and generously topped with Parmesan cheese as a second “side.”

I guarantee you’ll get nary a complaint about this unique summertime meal with a gourmet twist!

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Chef’s Notes:

1—*To make your Paneed mix you need 2 cups Italian seasoned French bread crumbs, 2 cups seasoned Japanese Panko crumbs, 1-1/2 cups grated imported Parmesan cheese, and the 2 tablespoons of seafood seasoning.

2—Don’t let the coated fish set and rest for more than 5 minutes or the coating will lose its crunchiness and become wet and pasty. Of course, if you don’t allow the coating to “rest” on the fillets for at least three minutes it won’t stick to the fish and will float away when it’s placed in the butter oil.

3—Best way to turn the fish in the pan is with two metal spatulas, one to slide under the fillet and the other to place on top the fillet to hold it in place when it’s flipped.

4—Almost any lean fish fillets can be used to make this dish—trout, catfish, flounder, sheepshead, drum, snapper, and even tilapia.

5—To do the oven roasted potatoes, wash and dry the baby reds, cut each one in half, toss them in the olive oil and butter mixture you use to fry the fillets, sprinkle them liberally with all purpose Cajun seasoning (or my Sprinkling Spice), arrange them in a single layer on a large parchment-sheet lined sheet pan, and roast in a preheated oven at 425 degrees until golden brown, tender, and crusty.

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