Fish takes center stage in Lenten meals

There are plenty of ways to prepare this versatile ingredient whether for Lent or your health

Ash Wednesday kicks off the Lenten season on Feb. 22.

Not only do most Catholics and many others decline to eat meat on that day, they also choose to uphold 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 others make fish for dinner in their homes.

Some people just want to add more fish to their diet because it’s  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.

Refrigerate raw fish in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Use a thermometer and keep the refrigerator set between 34 and 40 degrees. It’s best to use fresh fish within one to two days.

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 various websites.

Lobster Roll

1 pound lobster cooked cut into small pieces

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon butter

2 hot dog bread rolls

1/4 head of lettuce thinly sliced

1 pinch salt and pepper to taste

Once lobster is cooked and cooled, cut meat into small pieces. Combine lobster meat and mayonnaise in a medium bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Butter hot dog rolls.

Heat medium skillet over medium-high heat and place rolls buttered side down in the pan. Cook until browned on both sides.

Line with lettuce and cover with lobster mixture.


Beer Battered Chips

6 potatoes cut into large wedges, unpeeled

2 cups oil

2 cups flour

375 ml beer

1 tablespoon lemon pepper

1 tablespoon salt

Steam or microwave potatoes for approximately 15 minutes until tender.

Arrange wedges on trays in a single layer and freeze for two hours or until firm.

Heat oil over a high heat or use a deep fryer and heat until temperature reaches 180 degrees. Once oil is hot, whisk half the flour with the beer until just combined.

Dust wedges with remaining flour, then dip into batter. Deep-fry wedges in batches until golden and crisp.

Serve with salt and lemon pepper.

Maple Balsamic Salmon

2 pound salmon fillet, cut into 6 serving pieces

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup real maple syrup

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Thinly sliced green onions, if desired

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Place salmon, skin side down, on cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In small bowl, stir syrup, vinegar and garlic with whisk. Brush half of the glaze over salmon.

Bake 10 minutes. Brush with remaining glaze. Bake five minutes longer or until fish flakes easily with fork. Garnish with onions.


Crispy Fried Fish

1/3 cup flour

2 teaspoons seasoned salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup dark beer or water

1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs

Oil for frying

1-1/2 lb fish fillets

In shallow dish, mix flour and seasoned salt. In medium bowl, beat eggs and beer with whisk. Place bread crumbs in large resealable food-storage plastic bag.

In electric skillet or deep fryer, heat about two inches oil to 350 degrees. Coat both sides of fish fillets with flour mixture, then dip in beer mixture, letting excess drip back into bowl. Place one or two pieces of fish at a time in plastic bag with bread crumbs; seal bag and shake to coat completely.

Fry fish in batches in hot oil about four minutes, turning once, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.


Beer-Battered Shrimp


1 pound uncooked peeled deveined large shrimp, thawed if frozen

3 to 4 tablespoons Original Bisquick™ mix

1 cup Original Bisquick™ mix

1/2 cup beer

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat oil (1 1/2 inches) in heavy saucepan or deep fryer to 350 degrees. Lightly coat fish with three to four tablespoons Bisquick mix.

Mix remaining ingredients with hand beater until smooth. (If batter is too thick, stir in additional beer, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency.) Dip fish into batter, letting excess drip into bowl.

Fry fish about two minutes on each side or until golden brown; drain. Serve, if desired, with tartar sauce.

Broiled Scallops

1-1/2 pounds bay scallops

2 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon garlic salt

Preheat the broiler to high heat.

Rinse scallops and place in a shallow baking pan. Sprinkle with two tablespoons melted butter, lemon juice, and garlic salt.

Broil in the preheated broiler until scallops begin to turn golden, six to eight minutes. Remove from the oven and serve with extra melted butter on the side for dipping.


Lemon Pepper Cod

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1-1/2 pounds cod fillets

1 lemon, juiced

Ground black pepper to taste

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat until hot. Add fillets and squeeze 1/2 of the lemon’s juice over the tops. Sprinkle with pepper to taste. Cook for four minutes and turn. Squeeze with the remaining lemon’s juice and sprinkle with pepper to taste. Continue to cook until fillets flake easily with a fork.


Salmon Cakes

14.75 ounce can red salmon, skin and bone removed, drained and flaked

2 eggs

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 tablespoon chopped capers

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

12 saltine crackers

1 tablespoon bread crumbs

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon oil

Stir salmon, eggs, lemon juice, capers, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper together in a bowl until well-combined.

Crush saltine crackers with your hands into the salmon mixture and mix well. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate, 30 minutes to overnight.

Dust a plate with half the bread crumbs. Divide salmon mixture into four portions and shape into patties; place onto prepared plate and sprinkle remaining bread crumbs atop the salmon patties.

Melt butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook patties in hot oil until cooked and heated through, about five minutes per side.

Southern Salmon Croquettes

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup yellow cornmeal

15 ounces canned salmon (drained)

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

1/2 cup sweet onion , diced

1 large egg, beaten

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup cilantro , chopped

Olive oil for frying

In a large bowl whisk together flour and cornmeal.

Add salmon, bell peppers, sweet onion, seasonings, Worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise, cilantro and egg. Mix until well combined.

Shape into about six to eight patties. Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat.

Once skillet is hot cook patties for two to three minutes on each side or until they are a golden brown color.

Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce.

Pan Seared Shrimp with Scampi Pasta

For the Shrimp:

4 tablespoons oil, divided

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 tablespoon Creole or Cajun seasoning

1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1 teaspoon light brown sugar

For the Scampi:

8 ounces angel hair pasta, cooked

1/2 tablespoon kosher salt, for the pasta pot

1/4 cup unsalted butter, divided

3 tablespoons minced garlic

1 cup white wine

1 small lemon, halved

1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1/2 teaspoon Creole or Cajun seasoning

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes,

Prepare pasta; reserve one cup of pasta water. Drain pasta and set aside.

Meanwhile, pat shrimp dry with paper towels. Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat until shimmering.

Combine seasonings and toss with shrimp.

Cook half of the shrimp in hot oil in a single layer until browned, about 1-1/2 minutes, turn and cook another 30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove to a bowl; set aside. Repeat with next batch of shrimp, adding another tablespoon of oil as needed.

Wipe out the skillet and add 1/2 of the butter and the remaining two tablespoons oil; add garlic and sauté for one minute.

Add the wine, lemon juice from half of the lemon, pepper and Cajun seasoning.

Bring to a boil and boil until mixture reduces by about half.

Add the cooked pasta and remaining two tablespoons butter; toss.

Add the basil, parsley, remaining lemon juice and red pepper flakes; toss, taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Add shrimp and any accumulated juices, tossing until shrimp is heated through.

Add some of the reserved pasta water to moisten if needed.



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