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Remember when I went to the beach and ate fried fish? Well, I wanted to do a recipe inspired by fried grouper and hushpuppies. There was a problem though: I hate deep frying in my house.
I mean, I’ll do it very occasionally, but it stinks up my house, I don’t like dealing with the oil, and it’s just a pain. So, what was I to do? Fish sandwiches to the rescue! I could make fish cakes and put them on delicious buns, but how would I incorporate hushpuppies? If you’ve never had a hushpuppy, you’re missing out. They’re little fried balls of corn meal and flour dough originating in the American South, and the best ones have whole corn kernels and onions inside.
My first idea was to take a cod fillet, since I can’t get grouper of flounder where I live, and dice it up, mix it with corn, red onions, garlic, and bread crumbs (these ingredients harking back to the hushpuppy), pan fry that and stick it on a bun. This was the result:
Looks pretty good, right? That’s because you can’t smell through your screen, you lucky dog. I got a nice piece of cod, but oh my goodness, the smell as these cooked was unbelievable. The fishiest smell that has ever been in my house, by a lot, and we eat fish semi-regularly. Do you eat cod? Did you know about this problem? The internet says that if you rinse the filet off, or soak it in milk, that should help. I did neither of those things.
Don’t get me wrong, the taste was very good. I really don’t think I had a bad piece of fish. It was wild caught, fresh, I used it almost immediately and it did not smell fishy when it was raw. We shall have to dig more into this mystery.
In the meantime, I could not subject you, loyal reader, to that stench in your kitchen. The solution? Switch fishies. I went back to good ol’ Costco and got a filet of steelhead. I had never had steelhead before, but it looked like salmon, and was half the price per pound. Sold!
I removed the skin from the filet with my trusty boning knife, diced the fish with this knife (don’t dice or chop with your boning knife, it won’t work very well, and you’re more likely to get cut), and mixed that with my corn, red onions, garlic, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, 2 eggs for binding, and added some red bell pepper.
When you make these, form your mixture into patties with your hands, put those on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and put them in the freezer while your oil heats up. This will help them hold together while cooking. When your oil is hot and flows like water, add some patties to your pan without overcrowding. Cook until browned on both sides.
When they’re done, put them on a cooking rack, or a plate lined with paper towels, sprinkle them with salt, and prepare your buns. I toasted the buns, smeared homemade tartar sauce on them, added lettuce and a squeeze of lemon, then crowned it with my fish cake and chowed down.
You could also absolutely serve these with no buns, like so:
These hushpuppy inspired fish sandwiches taste rich and satisfying, with bright pops of corn throughout.
When you make these, will you please leave me a comment? I hope they make you happy and full. Until next time!
What an adventure that was! We learned a little about cod, and a little about ourselves.
Hushpuppy Inspired Fish Sandwiches
For the fish cakes
- 1 and 1/2 pounds fish filet I used steelhead, but any sturdy fish filet should work.
- 3/4 cup fresh corn kernels frozen and thawed is fine, too.
- 1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1/2 red onion, finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves, grated or finely diced
- 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce you could also use soy sauce.
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For the pan
- a neutral oil, such as canola
- Remove the skin from your fish filet, if necessary.
- Dice the fish into 1/2 inch pieces.
- Add all ingredients into a medium mixing bowl, and stir to combine.
- With your hands, take a scoop of the mixture and form it into a patty.
- Place fish cakes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and put them in the freezer while your oil preheats.
- Place a large skillet on the stove over medium heat.
- After the pan preheats for a few minutes, put enough oil in so that there is a 1/4 inch coating all across the surface of the pan.
- When the oil is hot, remove your fish cakes from the freezer, and place in the oil. There should be sizzling and bubbling.
- Fry until crispy on the first side, about 3-4 minutes.
- Flip the fish cakes, being careful not to splash yourself, and fry until crispy on the second side, another 3-4 minutes.
- Drain on a plate lined with paper towels, sprinkling with salt immediately after they come out of the oil.
- Serve on a toasted bun with lettuce, tartar sauce, and a squeeze of lemon.