Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: Inspired by the sea

A trip to Vancouver Island provides all the inspiration Cathi Litzenberger needs for this week's recipes

If it weren’t for an invitation to a wedding in Campbell River last weekend, I might never had experienced this amazing little bit of paradise on Vancouver Island.

The town itself is slightly smaller than Vernon with about 10,000 fewer residents, and is situated right on the ocean about half way up island from Victoria. It has a wide tourist appeal for anyone who loves the sea and fishing. Campbell River has build its amenities around  commercial and sport fishing, camping, hiking, seafood, etc. Besides common tourist offerings, it has several marine museums, large driftwood carvings on every block, lots of fresh seafood eateries and restaurants, and a huge fishing pier that was constructed by local efforts and volunteers. The pier is complete with an amazing seafood concession (and other selections for non-fish eaters).

With that in mind I’m offering two recipes for all those who love seafood. The first is a tempura batter that can be used for any seafood. The second, a good casserole dish the whole family is sure to enjoy.

Deep-Fried Seafood

2/3 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup cornstarch

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

3/4 cup water

Thin fish fillets, snapper, sole, cod, halibut, (your choice) cut in triangular shape

1/2 cup all purpose flour

Fine bread crumbs* (see note)

Fat for deep frying

For the batter, measure first 4 ingredients into a bowl. Stir in water to make a thin pancake-like batter. Dip fillets in flour, then batter. Coat with bread crumbs. Drop into hot 400 F fat. Cook until browned. Remove with slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Serves 4.

Note:  Batter without bread crumbs stays crisp for quite awhile and is smooth and golden. When coated with bread crumbs, it gets a bit crisper, browns more and stays crisp a little longer. Try both methods.

Dilled fish casserole

10 oz. canned sliced mushrooms, drained (I like fresh but brown first in 1 tbsp. butter))

1/4 cup chopped green onion

1/2 tsp. parsley flakes or 1 tbsp fresh

1/2 tsp. dill weed, or 1 tbsp. fresh

1 lb. ocean perch or cod fillets

2/3 cup sour cream

1/3 cup salad dressing or mayonnaise

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

1/8 tsp. paprika

2 tbsp. butter or hard margarine

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs

Stir first 4 ingredients together in ungreased 2-quart (2 L) casserole dish. Cut fish fillets into serving size pieces. Arrange over mushroom mixture.

Mix next five ingredients in small bowl. Spread over fish.

Topping: Melt butter in small saucepan. Stir in bread crumbs. Sprinkle over all. Bake, uncovered, in 375 F oven for about 30 minutes until fish flakes. Serves 4. Serve with rice and a salad, and dinner is complete.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every Wednesday and one Sunday a month.

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