Monday, February 6, 2012
The Fish Notes
Super interesting to me that the first post I did on fried foods has gotten the most input from my readers. Thanks for all the great feedback – so much so that I thought it would be good to share a “couple of notes” that weren’t mine but made me go and do some more research.
One reader posted “The house still smells like fish, despite having lit 'the kitchen candle' before beginning.” I confess I had the same issue. And though I love the smell of good food when it is cooking, I am not a fan of waking up in the morning (or in this case the middle of the night) wondering what “that” smell is. I guess I assumed that not having a very powerful vent fan — one of the things on the dream house wish list — was the reason for my wiffy experience, but it would appear that several of you had the same issue. The next time I make this recipe it will have to be on a warmer day when I can open some windows and let the smell waft out to the neighborhood instead of staying trapped in my house.
Several of you commented that the 20 minutes that it took to heat my oil was intimidating. I apologize for that and have to put out there a big caveat. I have one of the worst cook tops in the world – electric and persnickety as all get out. It is also on the “someday” list to be replaced but in the meantime I probably erred on the side of caution heating my oil. The most important thing is to get the oil nice and hot.
Several of you commented that your fish was still a bit soggy or in one person’s case, got soggy while warming in the oven. So I went back and checked my handy dandy resources and found these answers. If your fish was soggy, your oil was not hot enough. I found this neat tip that may help to calibrate your oil temp without a thermometer (what I am asking for, for mother’s day). Place a small piece of bread in your oil when cold. It should sink to the bottom of the pan. As the oil heats up the bread should rise to the surface. When it is bobbing on the surface with small bubbles around it, your oil should be hot enough. I have not had a chance to try this yet but sounds like a good idea.
I also found out that when you remove a batch of fish from the oil it cools slightly now that it is not working as hard. The solution? Through in another small hunk of bread, just to keep it bubbling.
For those that had issues with the fish staying crisp after it was cooked and warming I found this answer. As the fish cools to room temperature, the oil in the surface of the food, combined with the steam released during the cooling process, makes the fish soggy. To keep your fish crispy, you need to blot any excess grease and keep the fish hot and dry until you are ready to eat. I removed my batches of fish to a paper towel for a few minutes before placing it on the baking sheet and in the oven. One reader said she blotted the top with an additional paper towel and then placed the fish on a paper towel, on top of a cooling rack, placed on a cookie sheet to keep her fish crisp.
I love, love, love all the comments and look forward to hearing what you are interested in and want me to cook. Over the next month or so I am hoping to make some changes to the blog to make it more robust and enjoyable to read and look forward to your feedback on what is working and what isn’t. In the meantime — Enjoy!
Posted by Nancy at 12:09 PM