Another G. Loomis Column from the Archives………
Stan is also known internationally for his casting skills. He has been featured in outdoor shows all over the United States as well as a number of foreign countries. He is a member of both the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as well as the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. He has also been honored by the National Professional Anglers Association.
Crappies Are For Cookin’
By Stan Fagerstrom
Write or talk about fishing for as long as I have and you’re bound to get questions now and then.
One question I never tire of answering is: What’s the best way to go about cooking panfish like crappies? I’ve never found anything better than the two procedures I talked about in my book “Catch More Crappie.”
My crappie book was published way back in 1977 and has long since been out of print. You can probably find a used copy on the Internet, but here is what I had to say in the book.
The fastest and most simple method is to clean and skin your crappies. When that’s done dry the cleaned fish carefully. Once they are dry, dip the fish in milk or a beaten egg, then into flour or cracker crumbs. Salt and pepper them to suit your own taste. Heat your cooking oil until it’s moderately hot. Cook the fish until it’s a golden brown on both sides.
Be sure when you use this method that you don’t overcook the fish. Do so and they’ll lose the delicate flavor that makes them so darn good in the first place.
Be aware that you’re going to have to work around the bones when you prepare crappie in this fashion. That’s no big deal as far as I’m concerned, but I know others who dislike having to do it. There’s another method of crappie preparation that’s really special. It’s one I often turn to when I prepare them for our own table.
To follow this procedure, clean and skin the fish as before. Then use a sharp knife to fillet steaks from alongside the backbone of each crappie. Cut these fillets into bite-sized chunks. Once again make sure the chunks are dry before you proceed. Now beat two eggs into a three-fourths cup of milk. Add enough flour to make a medium-thick batter. This batter should be about the consistency of extra thick cream. Salt and pepper to your taste.
Pre-heat your deep fryer to 375 degrees. Dip the pieces of fish into the batter and then pop them into the deep fryer.
You can use the cooking oil of your choice for the deep fryer. My wife, and she’s cooked a heap of crappie over the past half century, uses olive oil or canola oil. Watch your fish carefully once it’s in the deep fryer. It only takes a couple of minutes for the small pieces to cook. Once they turn that appealing golden brown, remove them from the deep fryer and allow them to dry.
If you’ve not tried this method of crappie preparation, you’re in for one fine treat. I’ve known folks who didn’t particularly care for most fish. But even these hard to please types had to admit these deep fried crappie were flat out delicious.
Anita, my wife, usually serves crappie prepared in such a fashion with french fries, a spicy cocktail sauce, coleslaw and warm french bread. The little pieces of crappie, each encased in its own crusty blanket, taste much like fine textured seafood once dipped into the cocktail sauce.
Add a chilled glass of Chardonnay or Chablis to top things off and you’ve got just about as good a meal of panfish as you’ll ever find. This recipe works equally well for either perch or bluegills.
Back in the early days when I still killed bass I’d have told you it worked equally well for them. No more. Most bass lakes today suffer from too much pressure. As far as I’m concerned, bass are for catchin’ not cookin’. I turn them loose to fight another day.
That’s about the size of it. Crappies are among the best eating of the panfish family. I hope you’ll give what you’ve just read a try. Got different thoughts or opinions? Let me hear from you. You can contact me at [email protected].
Just writing about eating properly prepared crappies makes my taste buds start doing a samba. Why? Because they’ve been there and done that. And they’re just itchin’ to repeat the process.
Let’s go fishin