Make Your Panfish Walk the Plank
As a chef, one of my passions is teaching others.
At some point in time I will be on the wrong side of the grass but I want to give the knowledge of what I’ve learned to others who can use it to benefit themselves. In turn, I ask them to pass it on to others. I also love to learn so when WildIndiana Publisher Brent Wheat offered to teach me more about local panfish, I was jazzed.
When talking about panfish, however, most folks in our area are going to use their old standby recipe to fry up these little morsels. I’m not knocking this preparation but there is more than one way skin a fish.
Brent brought over some beautiful white bass, both fillets and whole, to let me cook because I love playing with my food! The quality of this fish is wonderful with great texture and good oil content. Oils are important as they help to keep the fish moist and flesh tender without it getting mealy in texture.
I like to cook fish with the skin on. Under every skin of fish is an oil layer that helps protect the fish from their environment. This benefits us as we cook them and the skin is easy to remove after cooking if desired.
Brent, thanks for teaching me about the white bass- now you’ve got to take me out to catch these! I’ll do the cooking and even bring the Hoegaarden!
Folks, the time is right to get outside and enjoy those tasty, plentiful panfish!
Cedar baked panfish
Large cedar board- 12 inches by 5 inches, often sold in kitchen stores but a new plank works fine
8 - 10 panfish fillets, skin on, deboned
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive plus 3 tablespoons reserved for dressing
2 -3 tablespoons of your favorite fresh herb, fine cut
Fine grind sea salt, fresh ground black pepper as needed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place board into oven to prewarm.
Meanwhile, place fillets on sheet pan skin side down.
Brush fish with olive oil to fully coat the fillets.
Sprinkle sea salt on the fillet evenly then repeat with black pepper and fresh herbs
Brush board with oil still left on the brush then place fillets skin side down on the board.
Place in oven and bake until just firm, around 6- 10 minutes and remove board.
While waiting, combine remaining olive oil and lemon juice, mix well, season to taste and reserve.
With metal spatula remove fillets from board leaving skin on board and plate the fish.
Mix dressing and drizzle over fillets on plate; serve with your favorite roast vegetable and some crusty bread since this meal is typically what we would see served on the coast of Italy.
You can later scrub the board and reuse again.