Find new ways to prepare a Lenten staple

With many traditional Friday fish fries canceled, it’s time to get creative in making meatless meals

    It’s the Lenten season, when Catholics and many others partake in the tradition of eating meatless meals each Friday, a recognition of the sacrifice Jesus made on Good Friday.
    Many people enjoy fish fries on Fridays, especially those that support area parishes, but the Covid-19 pandemic has put many of those dinners on hold.
    So home cooks are looking to prepare fish — and not just because it’s Lent. After all, fish is a heart-healthy choice. There are a wide variety of fish,  and a multitude of ways to prepare it.        Fish can be baked with a crispy crust, offering the same delicious taste as a fish fry with fewer calories.
    It can be roasted with vegetables to bring new flavors to life.
    It can be crusted with herbs or potatoes to retain moisture during cooking.
    It can be used in a stew or soup, adding a tasty yet healthful flair to a Lenten meal.
    Fish is a delicious source of protein that’s low in fat. A three-ounce cooked serving of most fish provides about 20 grams of protein, roughly one-third of the average daily recommended amount. The protein in fish is of high quality, containing an abundance of essential amino acids.
    When selecting fish, check to see how it smells. If it smells fishy, it’s not fresh. The color of fresh fish fillets varies, but it should always be bright and uniform, never yellow at the edges. The flesh should be moist, firm and cleanly cut. The flesh should never be partially thawed or covered with ice crystals, a sign of thawing and refreezing.
    The standard rule is to bake fish 10 minutes for each inch of thickness. Turn the fish halfway through cooking, unless it’s 1/2 inch or less. To ensure fillets cook evenly, tuck thin ends under.
    Following are some meatless Lenten dishes from

    Baked Flounder With Lemon and Butter

For the flounder:
1-1/2 pounds flounder fillets or sole
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely minced onion
1 teaspoon paprika
Fresh parsley
Lemon wedges
For garlic aioli:
2 medium cloves garlic
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

    Cut flounder fillets into serving-size portions. Arrange pieces in a greased shallow baking dish, then sprinkle fish with salt and pepper.
    In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine melted butter, lemon juice and minced onion. Pour the lemon-butter mixture over fish. Sprinkle the fish with paprika.
    Bake in a 325-degree oven for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on thickness of the fillets, until fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork.
    Garnish with chopped parsley, lemon wedges, and serve with garlic aioli, if desired.
    To prepare the aioli, place garlic in a small bowl and mash well with a fork or  use a mortar and pestle. Add mayonnaise, olive oil and lemon juice, then whisk to blend thoroughly. Season with salt. Cover and chill until serving time.
    If the fillets are very thin, check for doneness after about 10 to 15 minutes. Thicker cuts of fish may take longer than 25 minutes to cook through. Start checking the fillets starting at 20 minutes, even if they are thick, to prevent overcooking.


Fish Florentine

1 12 to 16-ounce bag chopped frozen spinach, thawed
1-1/2 pounds haddock or cod fillets
1 10-3/4 ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup soft bread crumbs
2 tablespoons melted butter

    Arrange spinach in the bottom of a greased two-quart baking dish. Top with the fish fillets. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Spread soup over the fish.
    Toss bread crumbs with melted butter until thoroughly coated. Sprinkle over the soup.
    Bake in a 375-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a fork.


Baked Salmon Teriyaki

4 6-ounce salmon fillets
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 scallions, finely chopped

    Place salmon fillets in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder, ginger powder and cornstarch.
    Pour marinade over the salmon and allow it to sit for 20 minutes to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
    Place the salmon on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, reserving the leftover marinade. Bake fish in a 350-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until cooked through.
    Place the marinade in a small saucepan and cook on medium heat until it is thickened. Add water if it gets too thick.
    Remove salmon from the oven and spread the reduced marinade over the top of each piece. Top the salmon with the sesame seeds and chopped scallions and serve with hot white rice or noodles.
    Bake some vegetables on the sheet pan along with the salmon. You can toss them in a little olive oil or top them with some of the marinade.
    You can make the marinade ahead of time and store it in a jar. It works great with chicken, shrimp, or beef.


Parmesan Crusted Baked Fish

2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 pounds fish fillets, such as tilapia, haddock, or cod, fresh or thawed
    Blend the milk and salt in a shallow bowl.
    Combine breadcrumbs, paprika and Parmesan cheese in another bowl.
    Dip fish fillets into the milk mixture, then into the crumb mixture.
    Arrange fish in a greased 11-by-8-by-2-inch baking dish. Try not to overlap fillets too much. Drizzle melted butter over the fillets.
    Bake in a 375-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes. The fish should flake easily with a fork when done.
    Serve the fish immediately.


Skillet Fried Fish Nuggets

Canola oil, for frying
3 pounds fish fillets
Dash of lemon pepper
Dash of garlic salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup water
1 cup dry pancake mix
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

    Heat about a half-inch of oil  in a large deep skillet over medium heat until it’s 350 to 365 degrees.
    Cut fish into bite-sized pieces. Lightly sprinkle pieces with lemon pepper and garlic salt.
    Place beaten egg and water in a bowl. Combine the pancake mix and breadcrumbs in a large plastic food storage bag.
    Dip fish in the egg and water mixture, then place in the bag to coat with the crumbs.     Fry in the hot oil for seven to eight minutes, until golden brown, turning once.
    Drain well on paper towels. Serve fried fish nuggets immediately with cocktail sauce or tartar sauce.
    The best fish for frying is a firm, meaty, white-fleshed fish, such as cod, tilapia, halibut, hake or catfish. Do not use a delicate fillet or it will simply fall apart in the oil.


Baked Sole With Mint and Ginger

2 pounds petrale sole fillets or similar delicate white fish
1 bunch mint
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

    Rinse the fish and pat dry. Arrange on a rimmed baking pan. The fillets can overlap as long as it’s no more than two fillets deep.
    Whirl mint, ginger, oil, salt and pepper in a blender to a smooth paste. You may need to add a tablespoon or two of water to make this happen.
    Rub the mint-ginger paste evenly over the fish. Bake in a 375-degree oven about 15 minutes, until fish is opaque and flakes easily in the center.
    Serve hot over rice or with roasted vegetables.

Haddock Newburg

1-1/2 pounds haddock fillets
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons flour
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash cayenne pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons dry sherry
2 large egg yolks
4 pastry shells or toast points

    Sprinkle haddock fillets lightly with salt and pepper and arrange in a greased large, shallow baking dish. Melt one tablespoon butter and drizzle over fillets.
    Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until fish is opaque and flakes easily. Remove fillets from the oven and set aside.
    Melt remaining butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add flour, one scant teaspoon salt, paprika, nutmeg and cayenne and stir until smooth and bubbly. Continue cooking, stirring, for two minutes. Gradually add the cream and milk and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.
    In a bowl, whisk egg yolks and sherry. Whisk in about one-third of the hot mixture, then return egg mixture to the saucepan. Cook over low heat about two minutes, stirring constantly.
    Flake the cooked haddock and add to the sauce. Heat for another minute, or until hot. Serve over hot baked puff pastry shells, biscuits or toast points.


Baked Tilapia With Buttery Crumb Topping

4 tilapia fillets
1 cup soft, fresh breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

    Arrange tilapia fillets on a buttered large, shallow baking pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    Combine butter with basil and toss with the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle crumbs over tilapia fillets. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until fish is cooked through. To brown the topping, broil about one minute, until crumbs are lightly browned.
    The fish will flake easily with a fork when done. The minimum safe temperature for fish is 145 degrees.
    Using a spatula, carefully transfer the tilapia fillets to plates or a serving platter.









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