Chef Adam Sappington from The Country Cat in Portland, Oregon has been using cast irons since he was 5 years old. His cooking style was largely shaped by the use of cast irons. In his upcoming cookbook, “Heartlandia: Heritage Recipes from Portland’s The Country Cat,” he offers many recipes for fans of cast iron, such as this fish fry.
Heartlandia Fish Fry
The first key to success for a good fried fish is to invite friends and family who aren’t shy about having fun and eating a ton. If you haven’t spent the day fishing, go buy a nice fresh white fish like halibut, cod, catfish, rockfish, or trout from a good fish market or grocery store. Then have the fish fry when the weather is nice so you can do your frying outside, and serve the crispy fish with a buffet of fresh salads, slaw, and plenty of homemade tartar sauce for dipping. –AS
6 medium fillets fresh white fish (about 1 1/2 pounds), such as rockfish, halved and pin bones removed
1 1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup finely ground cornmeal
1 tablespoon group celery seed
1 tablespoon ground fennel seed
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon lemon powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black powder
2 cups lard or vegetable oil, for frying
Tartar sauce, for serving
In a large bowl, combine the fish with the buttermilk and, using your hand or a rubber spatula, move the fish around so the fillets are submerged. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the fish soak in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, celery seed, fennel seed, garlic powder, lemon pepper, onion powder, salt, and black pepper and whisk to combine. Working with one piece at a time, remove the fish from the buttermilk, allowing any excess buttermilk to drip back into the bowl. Place the fillet in the seasoned flour, shake the bowl to cover the fish, and press down firmly to coat. Shake the fillet to remove any excess flour and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining fillets.
Line a large baking sheet with paper towels. In a large cast-iron skillet set over medium heat, warm the lard until it reaches 325°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Working in batches, fry the fillets, turning with a fresh fork halfway white and cooked through in the center, about 3 minutes per side.
Transfer the fish to the paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Repeat with the remaining fillets, then transfer the fried fish to a platter and serve up with tarter sauce alongside.
Recipe from “Heartlandia: Heritage Recipes from Portland’s The Country Cat” by Adam and Jackie Sappington. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Available Sept. 1. TheCountryCat.net/Heartlandia-Cookbook