Whether you are still pulling perch out of the ice or starting to fish on open water, this recipe is a yummy way to prepare panfish. So what are panfish exactly? They are any edible fish species that generally do not outgrow the size of a frying pan when cooked whole. Examples are sunfish species, perch, and crappie. The term panfish was recorded as early as 1796 in the first known cookbook written by an American, American Cookery. Chef Richard Lerman created this panfish salad recipe for a Wild Harvest Table Local Food Workshop held last year, using freshly caught panfish from the Finger Lakes.
Chef Lerman’s Panfish Salad
Scrape scales from skin or remove skin from the fish fillets and check for and remove small bones. Cut fish into approx. 2”X 2” pieces, lightly salt & pepper pieces. If fillets were previously frozen wick off excess moisture on paper towels, skip this step if using fresh fish.
Dredge fillets in flour, seasoned with salt and pepper. Fry in heavy cast iron pan in 1” hot peanut or olive oil, 2-3 minutes per side or till golden. Set on rack or paper towel to drain.
Prepare the Vinaigrette dressing: Whisk together: Juice of 1 fresh lemon, (about 2 Tbsp). 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, a pinch of salt, 1 Tbsp French-style Dijon Mustard with 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Or you can add all of these ingredients to a jar and shake vigorously to combine.
Arrange Salad: Alternate layers of cleaned and dry lettuce leaves,with fish fillets with a spoon or two of the dressing, until all are used, saving a bit of dressing for on top. Garnish with cherry tomatoes or cucumber slices. Do not attempt to toss the salad as the fillets are tender and will break apart. Enjoy!