Somewhere, nameless, in Montana there is a huge lake that used to be the number one spot for rainbow fishing in the state. When they were spawning, you could catch them from the shore, beautiful, orange-fleshed fish, 20-24 inches long and we’d catch several in a very short time, each time we went out. These days it’s more a walleye lake—and sometimes when you’re reeling in that walleye there’s a second tug—a pike attempting to steal your dinner. (I’m sure the pike would define it the other way around.) And while most of us weren’t happy about someone dumping walleye and pike, illegally, into this very productive bit of trout habitat, I have to admit I like non-oily fish a lot better than oily ones. (Of course, John, having shared caribou eyeballs and fresh whale meat with the Inuit, and porcupine meat with his first wife’s native American grandparents, doesn’t have a reputation for being picky. No offense to porcupines.)
I also admit that even within the non-oily fish designation (bass, perch, walleye, pike etc) I’m a bit picky. So I’m very careful about cleaning fish, carefully removing the viscera (including the kidneys, that long red line on either side of the spine—inside the body cavity—and the gills.) All places where blood is plentiful and fish blood spoils pretty fast. Then ice the fish as soon as we clean and rinse them.
And how do we cook those not-oily fish? John would just stick them in the microwave until the skin peels easily and the flesh is still moist looking, and make a fish salad—like a tuna salad. But this is one of my favorite ways to eat fish. Being picky isn’t always a bad thing.
Tangy Hawaiian Fingers
There are two ways you can serve Hawaiian Fingers: slap them on a plate with cole slaw and potato salad or, better, find some really good hard crusted rolls and make yourself a fish sandwich you’ll never forget. It’s up to you. Either way, don’t forget the pineapple/mustard sauce.
- 1 1/4 cups (310 ml) canned, crushed pineapple, with juice
- 3 1/2 tablespoons sweet hot mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 egg
- 2/3 cup (160 ml) milk
- 1 cup (250 ml) flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 pound (1/2 kg) fish fillets, cut in 1×4 inch fingers
- Combine the crushed pineapple, mustard and Worcestershire sauce in a blender. Puree and set aside.
- Combine the rest of the ingredients (except the fillet/fingers) in a large bowl, mix well and let sit for 1 hour at room temperature.
- After the batter has sat for 1 hour, preheat a deep fat fryer to 370F (185C) for 10 minutes. When the fryer is ready, dip each fillet/finger into the batter, and cook about 3 minutes till the batter is golden brown and the fish flaky inside. Drain on paper towels and serve with the pineapple/mustard sauce.
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