There’s plenty of fish in the sea, but some make for better eating than others. Tom McIntyre, owner of Kate’s Fish at the West Side Market, gives us three fish for your next fry.
Wild-caught catfish can have a slightly muddy flavor, so stick with the grain-fed, farm-raised variety. McIntyre says to marinate these fillets in buttermilk, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper and paprika, then coat them in cornmeal and fry. “It’s very mild, so spices really add a kick,” he says.
If you’re of the beer-battering mind, this is the fish you want. With a sweet, delicate flavor, haddock crisps up nicely when you cut it into sticks and dredge it in a beer batter. “You can eat it skin-on or skinless,” he says. “Beer makes a light, crispy batter that complements haddock.”
McIntyre suggests frying this beauty whole by coating it with cornmeal and a mildly sweet Jamaican jerk seasoning. “There’s good meat in the head and around the pectoral fins you wouldn’t get in the fillet,” says McIntyre.
An oil bath used to be the only way to fry fish. Although that’s still the most common way you’ll get your fish fried in town, now there’s another option for home cooks: air-frying. Robert Ledzianowski, director of sales for Catanese Classic Seafood subsidiary Chef 2 Chef Foods, weighs out the pros and cons of both methods.
Air fryers use a small amount of oil to achieve a crispy, flavorful, brown crust without using a wet batter. Air fryers are convection ovens, which utilize a radiant bar heater and fan to evenly distribute and fry the oil with minimal effort. “The active lipids caramelizing, via heat, is what gives you the flavor,” says Ledzianowski. “You’ll get cleaner, more natural flavor of the fish from your air fryer than from dipping it in batter.” But Ledzianowski warns many air fryers on the market use Teflon nonstick coatings which can be harmful at higher temperatures. “It can get into the food and accidentally be ingested,” he says.
This method involves coating the fish in beer batter and deep-frying it in a well of oil. When it’s done right, it’s delicious — crisp on the outside and browned from the residual sugars of the beer while keeping the fish on the inside tender and moist. “It’s a comfort food, an indulgence,” says Ledzianowski, who likes milk stouts in the batter for their deep, golden color. But, deep-frying demands delicate attention to detail. “There’s a sweet spot between golden brown and delicious, and overcooked,” he says. “If there’s too much [fish] in the basket, it instantly drops the temperature and you’ll have raw or undercooked fish in the center of the basket.”
John C. Young, president of Euclid Fish Co., offers fast and easy sides to pair with your next fish fry.
Fennel and Orange Salad
This simple salad of sliced fennel and orange wedges can be topped with olive oil and balsamic drizzle for a refreshing flavor. “[The citrus and fennel] are going to cut through that greasy aspect of the fried fish,” says Young. “The fennel gives a nice, clean taste, moves well with the other ingredients and has a good mouth texture.”
1 large bulb of fennel, top trimmed off and sliced thinly
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegarFresh ground pepper and salt to taste
Whisk together oil and vinegar in a medium-sized bowl. Add the oranges and fennel, and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Lentil Pasta Salad
Made with a base of lentil macaroni sauteed with olive oil, garlic, arugula, fresh tomatoes, oregano and topped with grated Parmesan cheese, this hearty side pairs well with haddock, cod, sea bass or salmon. “This is one of our all-time favorites,” says Young.
1 box lentil macaroni
2 cups fresh arugula
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to box instructions. Toss the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. When pasta is done, drain and toss with arugula and tomatoes. Serve warm.
Zucchini Pesto Noodles
If you don’t have a spiralizer to cut your zucchini into noodle shapes, pick up a frozen package of veggie noodles instead. Saute them for roughly eight minutes and toss with pesto and cherry tomatoes. “If you think of a fish fry as a heavy meal, [this dish] is a good alternative that adds a different flair to the whole meal,” says Young.
2 tablespoons basil pesto
1 tablespoon olive oil
Grated Romano Cheese
Wash and peel zucchini and use a spiralizer to cut them into noodles. Add olive oil to a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the zucchini zoodles to the pan and saute for roughly 8 minutes. Add the basil pesto and toss together in the saute pan. Top with grated Romano cheese and serve warm.
Grab and Go
Drop a line at one of these local spots for fresh, responsibly caught fish.
Catanese Classic Seafood: 1600 Merwin Ave., Cleveland, 216-696-0080, classicseafood.com
Euclid Fish Co.: 7839 Enterprise Drive, Mentor, 440-951-6448, euclidfish.com
Farm House Foods: 9000 Woodland Ave., Cleveland, 216-791-6948; 20524 Southgate Park Blvd., Maple Heights, 216-587-6767, farmhousefoods.com
Kate’s Fish: West Side Market,1979 West 25th St., Cleveland, 216-621-7675, facebook.com/katesfishmarket
Seven Seas Seafoods: 15725 Lorain Ave., Cleveland, 216-941-1359, facebook.com/7seasseafood