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Jul 12, 2009 08:08 PM

What would you do with these fresh caught fish?

Just got back from an all-day fishing trip in the Monterey Bay, and came back with quite a haul! We've got about four and a half pounds of halibut, five of rock cod, and a pound and a half of ling cod. The fish was filleted for us on the wharf, and I cut them into individual servings when we got home. I put most of it in the freezer, since there are only two of us and there's no way we could finish that much fish without freezing. However, I left out two nice-sized fillets of each kind of fish, so my boyfriend and I can enjoy a different one each night for our next three dinners.

Our expert fisherman friend recommended battering with Dixie Fry (is that just seasoned flour, or something else?) and pan-frying in a mixture of canola and peanut oil. What's your favorite way to prepare these kinds of fish?

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  1. "Dixie Fry"® is simply a mixture of flour, salt and spices along with some herbs and coloring and lots of chemicals. You can make your own mix using AP or rice flour with herb and spices of your own. Just dip your fillets into a mixture of a few drops of water and egg (well beaten) the dredge them in your mix. Then dip them gently into the egg once again and into a pan of hot (but well below the smoking point) oil. Fry until golden brown, turn over with a gentle rolling motion and cook to golden brown on the other side.
    You could also use the fish you have as a portion of the ingredients for a good boulibase, or you could use panko bread crumbs in place of the flour mixture for a crispier more sophisticated coating and combine your oil with butter (50/50 mix) for a richer flavor profile.
    As a side note, be sure the fish you're storing in the freezer is wrapped tightly in freezer wrap or freezer bags, not paper or standard plastic wrap. The moisture in fish will want to escape and the air that transpires through low quality plastic (yes, it does allow air to pass through) will generate freezer burn very quickly.

    10 Replies
    1. re: todao

      First of all, congratulations on your haul. To let the fish shine, I prefer nothing more than a simple broil with nothing on top but oil and salt. Make a sauce for the table if you like.

      When I fry, again, I prefer it simple. The halibut would be great fried in cornmeal instead of flour, like you do catfish.

      An avid fisherman friend of mine advised me to freeze all fish completely surrounded in ice. Put them in the bag, then fill enough to cover in water, and squeeze all air out. Freeze flat in stacks. He's right -- NEVER any freezer burn.

      I hope they'll all last the three days after you brought them home. I think I'd keep them in their packaging on top of a rotated bowl if ice, if I were you.

      1. re: dmd_kc

        i have to agree about holding the fish for 3 days, unless the op's refrigerator is crazy cold and never gets opened.

        a trick that helps is to coat the fish in olive oil and wrap tightly in saran. this helps keep air from penetrating the flesh.

        a simple lemon beurre blanc is great over white fish like these.

        1. re: dmd_kc

          Ah okay. I read all kinds of conflicting advice online regarding how long fresh fish keeps in the fridge, and came up with 3 days as a median number. I'll put the ziplock bags into a bowl of ice in the fridge per your recommendation. Thanks!

          1. re: operagirl

            I never keep fish more than 2 days, but that is just me. 3 days is tops. I keep mine wrapped in saran well or ziplocks whatever you have will work fine, NO oil for me and then I set on ice to keep it extra cold. Don't let it get water soaked. 3 days is tops, 2 days if fresh caught. If you had some that night, eat and and then keep another couple of pieces for 2 days later. The rest freeze as far as I am concerned.

            1. re: operagirl

              If you store your fresh fish in a ziplock bag like that make sure the bag is not closed all the way. You need to let some air in or your fish will spoil faster. Ziplock bags are much thicker than saran wrap and they insulate the air in the bag keeping it warmer than the temp out side of the bag.

          2. re: todao

            For the frozen ones, I portioned them into ziplock sandwich bags of 2-3 fillets each (give or take 8 oz of fish in each sandwich bag), then put the sandwich bags into larger freezer bags, flattening to remove as much air as possible. Does that sound like a good solution? Also thanks for the info on Dixie Fry - I figured it was something like that!

            1. re: operagirl

              Perfect way to freeze. Exactly how I do it and freeze fish weekly. Some of my fish has been there for a couple of months and still in great shape. In fact taking some out tomorrow to have for dinner.

              Yes, never use pre mixes for fish, Flour and few spices and herbs work just fine. Some times some corn meal for frying but I love it not fried if possible.

              1. re: operagirl

                <For the frozen ones, I portioned them into ziplock sandwich bags of 2-3 fillets each (give or take 8 oz of fish in each sandwich bag), then put the sandwich bags into larger freezer bags, flattening to remove as much air as possible. Does that sound like a good solution?>

                I double freezer-bag anything that's going to be in there more than a couple of days.

                Rather than coat the whole fillet and "fry," I prefer giving it a "topping" of a panko and herb mixture. I get the pan very hot and put the fillets into hot oil with the topping side down first to brown and get the crunch up, then turn them over and add about 2 tablespoons dry vermouth to the pan and finish cooking. ;)

              2. re: todao

                I agree with the poster who like to do almost nothing to the fish and let its true flavors shine through, but this is a way I make fish filets quite often. It is easy delicious and light. Fish baked in an aluminum foil packet with tomatoes, olives, capers etc.

                See the recipe at

                1. re: MoreThanSpaghetti

                  I have posted many recipes for a similar recipe. Fish pockets either in foil in the oven or grill or parchment in the oven is a great way. A mix of any veggies. Not just olives or tomatoes but zucchini, carrots, summer squash, mushrooms, some white wine, butter, lemon slices, anything goes. Close up and cook. A very easy way and very healthy way to cook the fish. I have actually 37 different combos in my cookbook or my catering menu I offer. It is so much fun and easy to do.

                  I love the pouches too. I grill fish at least 1-2 per week in pouches on the grill. I can't eat enough.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  I heartily second this! Best thing you can do with really fresh fish.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Ceviche sounds wonderful! After seeing this post, I just ran out and bought ingredients to make some for dinner tonight. I think we're going to have to invite a couple friends over, since I ended up using almost 2 pounds of fish . . . can't wait!

                  2. I am so envious!

                    I would suggest the following dish for your halibut. Food writer Colman Andrews (Saveur & Gourmet Magazines) described this dish as "simply one of the two or three best ways of cooking fish I know.” I would agree. If your fillets are less than 1 1/2" thick, you will probably need to reduce the cooking time to avoid overcooking the fish. In that case, I would first give the potatoes about 10-15 minutes in the oven before adding the fish and other ingredients and then return the dish to the oven until the fish is done.

                    Baked Fish with Potatoes (4 Servings)
                    Paraphrased from Catalan Cooking by Colman Andrews

                    1 1/2 lbs sea bass, halibut, swordfish or tuna (1 1/2 to 2 lbs) cut into 4 steaks 1 1/2 inch thick
                    1/2 lb potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced, blanched for 3-4 minutes & patted dry
                    2 tomatoes halved
                    4 cloves garlic minced
                    2 sprigs parsley minced
                    2 scallions, white part only minced
                    1 sprig fresh rosemary minced
                    1 spring fresh thyme (or 1/4 tsp dried)
                    Olive oil
                    lemon juice
                    salt and pepper

                    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat the bottom of a casserole or baking dish with oil, then layer it with potato slices, overlapping them to cover the bottom completely. Arrange the fish on top of the potatoes, and arrange the tomato halves, cut side up, alongside the fish. Brush the tops of the fish and tomatoes plus any exposed potato slices, lightly with oil. Mix the garlic, parsley, green onions, rosemary, and thyme together well, then sprinkle over the fish. Lightly drizzle lemon juice over the garlic mixture, then salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the fish and potatoes are done.

                    1. Brush with good quality mayo, sprinkle with S&P, broil, sprinkle a smidgen of minced parsley on them when they come out and a squeeze of lemon. Great fresh fish is a gem on its own. Maybe a wedge of fried polenta, and a nice mixed greens salad with a vinagrette to go with.

                      1. I'd blacken the Halibut butter and not to much K Pauls Blackned redfish spice blend. Take grill off you gas grill heat cast iron pan down on burners for 10min.
                        Cod I love this easy soup