19
Nov
2013
Jayne Cohen's picture

BRITISH-JEWISH FRIED FISH

Jayne Cohen

Yield: 6-8 servings

  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds sole, flounder, or similar white-fleshed fish fillets, no more than 1/2-inch thick (any stray bones removed with a tweezer)
  • Salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • About 2 cups matzoh meal
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Optional additions: your choice of spices, such as, smoked paprika, ground cumin, coriander, cayenne, ground fennel
  • Olive, peanut, or grapeseed oil, for frying

Accompaniments:

  • malt vinegar,
  • lemon quarters,
  • sea salt or a flaky finishing salt

For easier handling, you may want to cut very large fillets in half lengthwise and, if necessary, remove the thin bony strip that runs through the middle of many fillets. If time permits, soak the fish in a pan of cold salted water for about 20 minutes. (This centuries-old technique not only seasons the fish but also helps it to stay firm when fried.)

Pat the fish dry with paper towels. (If you haven’t soaked the fish, sprinkle the fillets lightly with salt on both sides.) Beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon water in a wide shallow bowl or pie pan. Spread the matzoh meal on a large sheet of wax paper or a plate. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and your choice of optional spices as desired (see *Cook’s Note). Taking one fillet at a time, dip it into the beaten egg, coating well on both sides. Let the excess egg drip back into the bowl. Dredge the fillets on both sides in the seasoned matzoh meal. To prevent loose crumbs from falling off and burning in the hot oil, pat the fillets firmly on each side so the matzoh meal adheres, then place them on a rack and let stand for about 5 minutes to set the coating.
Heat the oil in a wide, heavy sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the fillets (in batches, as necessary, to avoid crowding the pan), and sauté them on each side, until golden and just cooked through. Don’t overcook: the fish should be moist and juicy within.
Transfer the fillets as they are done to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to absorb excess oil. If necessary, keep them warm in a 200 degree F oven until the rest are done—but like latkes, they are really best hot out of the pan.

Serve the fish with the vinegar and/or lemon and finish with a sprinkle of salt. The sequence is important: if you add the salt first, the vinegar will wash it away.

*Cook’s Note: I like to divide the seasoned matzoh meal in half. When the first half becomes ragged with little clumps of egg from dredging the fish, I replace it with the reserved fresh half.

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