Gone Fishin’: Pan-fried Perch

Pan-fried Perch.TheCubanReuben.comWhether it is in a little lake, or deep in the sea, there’s just something about fishing that has appealed to my husband, ever since his childhood fishing trips alongside his grandpa. When Kenny met Joe, my brother’s father-in-law, several years back, they quickly discovered common ground in their shared favorite pastime. Every time they find themselves together at family functions, the topic of a fishing trip always comes up (usually by Kenny asking Joe when they’re going fishing). With Kenny’s nights and weekends tied up with business school for the past 3 years, it was hard for him to get away, but sure enough, the weekend right after his graduation, he and Joe planned their expedition.

Kenny woke up bright and early in the morning to meet Joe and his son, Manny, and they headed on their way. Joe had picked out the perfect spot along the coast for this “boys only” fishing trip, and soon they were one with the sea.

Kenny and the sea. TheCubanReuben.com
Kenny and the sea. (Photo by Manny Campa)

A few hours later, Kenny returned sunburned and satiated, with a cooler full of fish he expected me to prepare. Now, regular readers of this blog will know that I am somewhat of a rookie when it comes to preparing fish, but particularly when the fish does not come filleted. I quickly searched YouTube for some help with how to prepare this bucket of perch awaiting me, and found this very helpful video.

Soon, I was off to a great start on dinner. Joe had suggested pan-frying the perch, and naturally, I looked for fresh and light sides to accompany the catch of the day. I landed on a nice summer salad of crisp cucumbers and juicy ripe tomatoes, and rounded out the meal with a lemon-scented orzo pasta that would complement the lemon I squeezed atop my piece of fish.

Joe and the fish. TheCubanReuben.com
Joe with the catch of the day. (Photo by Kenny Stempel)

For as down as I am on fish, I have to say that this was quite tasty. Maybe it’s because the fish was as fresh as it was, or because just about anything tastes good breaded and fried, but this was by far my best tasting fish dish to date. The flavor of the fish was very mild, and the seasonings I used in the coating really helped to enhance the dish. With this new recipe in my repertoire, Kenny and Joe just might be going fishing a bit more often.

Pan-fried Perch
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 2-3
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
A quick and easy way to prepare the catch of the day!
  • 1½ cups flour
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup half and half
  • 1½ lbs fresh perch, skinned (filleting optional)
  • ½ lbs butter
  • 1 lemon, cut in wedges
  1. In a shallow dish, combine flour, salt, Old Bay seasoning, paprika and black pepper. In a separate dish, beat the egg and the half and half together, and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Melt butter in pan over medium heat.
  3. Dredge the perch in the flour mixture, dip in the egg mixture, and return to the flour mixture before carefully placing in the pan with the melted butter. Brown on each side for about 2 minutes.
  4. Remove from pan, and drain on paper towel.
  5. Serve immediately, and garnish with lemon wedges.
I found this link very helpful to learn how to skin and fillet fresh perch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzq_KFYHCkA


Alaskan Salmon

baked salmon

This past summer, my husband and father braved the cold Alaskan air to take a fishing trip together. My husband has enjoyed fishing since his childhood, when he would go on special trips with his grandpa, and my dad, well… he likes the camaraderie. As someone who doesn’t love fish, I was hoping they would have a good time, share stories, bond, and maybe come home with a fillet or two. I can deal with a fillet or two. But oh, no. Not these guys. When they go fishing, they go fishing, and when they returned home, lucky me, I got a truck-load of freshly caught salmon.


Salmon, with all of its healthy omega 3’s and oils packed into its pink flesh, (which, by the way, is exactly what makes it taste so…well, fishy), makes it onto the list of my least favorite fish to eat and cook. But I found myself with an overflowing freezer full of cleaned, de-boned,  filleted salmon, and a husband eager to taste the fruits of his labor. So I was on a quest to find at least one fool-proof salmon recipe that even I, hater of all things “fishy” could tolerate, and even enjoy.Cleaning salmon

I asked the different chefs in my family, as I am the only one with this aversion, what they do to season their fish, and the consensus was to keep it simple. I can do that. I’m all about keeping it simple in the kitchen. My cousin, Ilianita, suggested using fresh lemon juice and garlic, a classic mixture in Cuban cuisine. Others suggested herbs, and it was my dear husband who had the bright idea to add some wine to the mix (although, later he fessed to hearing the tip from one of the fishing pros in Alaska). I tried a few different variations, until I found the perfect blend. And let’s just say that this once fish-hater ate my whole darn piece of fish. Perhaps it was because this fish was so fresh, or maybe it was the marinade, but my salmon really didn’t taste fishy at all. Each bite was naturally buttery, and sweetly perfumed by the citrus and herbs.

I made this dish for a Shabbat dinner when one of my friends who keeps kosher was in attendance, as fish is considered pareve (that is, it is neither milk or meat, and can be prepared and eaten without too many restrictions). Served with couscous and a nice salad, it turns out fresh Alaskan Salmon is a real crowd-pleaser.

Now, what to do with the rest of the stash?

Fresh Caught Salmon


4.5 from 2 reviews
Baked Salmon
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
This is the winning recipe for fish that even non-fish-eaters will enjoy.
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 lemons, juiced and zested
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 1 Tbs basil
  • 2 Tbs fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 4 6oz fillets of Alaskan Salmon
  1. In a resealable plastic bag, combine first 7 ingredients (garlic to salt/pepper). Close the bag, and massage it, so the ingredients mix to form a marinade.
  2. Place the salmon filets in the bag, and refrigerate for an hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Make a packet using tinfoil, and place each salmon filet plus a little bit of the marinade in its own packet. Seal tightly.
  5. Place the foil packets on a baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes, or until fish is flaky.
  6. Serve immediately.


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