11 January 2009
So...what part of the fish do fingers come from?
I guess that question ranks with anatomical placement of the ever popular chicken nuggets (umm...gosh...that came out differently in my head..really.)
I've never really been a fan of processed fish fingers or patties. The texture's never right, the coating is disgusting and usually left on the plate, along with dandruff-like flakes of reformulated fish. I much prefer whole fillets, with their big, juicy hunks of flesh. And yes, the coating is still left behind.
I fully admit to not buying a lot of boxed fish products. Most of it just doesn't appeal...and the one kind I actually did like (a particular type of beer-battered fillet) can no longer be found. So whether or not I can find fish fingers made of whole fish pieces, I really don't know. But it no longer matters as I now make my own.
Buttermilk-marinated fried catfish is one of my favourite dishes, so it only makes sense to turn the whole fillet into fingers...but without the hot dog-like grinding and sticking together of the fishie bits. Besides...the informal nature of foods you can dip is just gosh-darned fun. It shouldn't all be knives and forks. I suppose you could dip it in some home-made ketchup, to truly bring back childhood memories, but I decided to try and be grown-up about it all and made some aioli.
The fingers are really easy to make, but may set off some innate fears about shallow or deep fat frying. If you have one of those deep fat frying gadgets, by all means, use it. I don't so I shallow fried, moderating the oil's temperature as I went. It's not that hard. Really. What follows is more of an idea of a recipe than a real recipe--use more seasoning if you want, do a double dredge if you really want. For me, one fillet can do about three servings, but a more hearty eater might be able to polish off a whole fillet herself.
1 dspn Old Bay Seasoning
400g catfish fillet
60g ap flour
1.5 Tbsp cornmeal
Mix together the buttermilk and Old Bay.
Cut the fillet into finger-like pieces and marinate in the spiced buttermilk mixture for 1-2 hours.
Mix the flour and cornmeal together. Dredge the fingers in the dry mixture prior to shallow frying in hot oil (4-6 minutes per side, until the meat is cooked and the coating is golden).
Removed fingers to drain on paper towels and lightly salt while still hot.
Serve hot with aoili for dipping.