Originally created 01/10/01

Fish in a flash



If one of your New Year's resolutions is to eat a more healthful diet, chances are you're looking for ways to eat more fish. And, although fish is popular restaurant fare, home preparation is often difficult.

This week's recipe for hushpuppy catfish gives you a new way to bake a light fish entree in a flash. Reminiscent of a summer catfish fry, hushpuppy mix moves from side dish to a coating for the fish, which is oven-baked, not fried.

My friend Susan Crocker came up with the idea of using hushpuppy mix as a breading for pan-fried fish, and I took her idea a step further to develop this week's recipe.

In pre-resolution days, I'd coat the fish fillets with melted butter or a beaten egg before dredging in the hushpuppy mix. But because it's the second week of the New Year, I've opted to use butter-flavored cooking spray, which gives the dish a buttery flavor and helps the hushpuppy mix adhere to the fish. A quick mist of cooking spray on the fish before it's popped into the oven helps it crisp up nicely.

Catfish isn't your only option with this recipe. Other thin, white fillets - sole, tilapia, flounder or trout - all pair beautifully with the hushpuppy coating. Simply pick the freshest fish available at your supermarket or seafood market.

The essential ingredient in perfect baked fish is a hot oven and a kitchen timer. A basic rule of thumb for baking fish is 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Catfish fillets, in general, will take about 8 minutes, while thin fillets like sole or tilapia will be finished in about 5 minutes.

Nutritional data:
(per serving)

Calories: 265
Total Fat: 8.3 g
     Saturated Fat: 1.6 g
Cholesterol: 98 mg
Sodium: 370 mg
Total Carbs: 15 g
     Dietary Fiber: 0.75 g
Protein: 33 g

When pairing side dishes with your hushpuppy fish, think fish fry. Cheese grits (quick grits topped with grated cheese) and coleslaw are the logical choices. And I add some sauteed cherry or grape tomatoes for a splash of color on the plate.

Hushpuppy Catfish

4 6-ounce catfish fillets, about 1´ pounds

Salt and pepper, to taste

Butter-flavored cooking spray

3/4 cup prepared hushpuppy mix

Lemon wedges, for accompaniment

You can find previous Quick Cooking recipes through the online archive at augustachronicle.com/karin

Heat oven to 500 degrees. Spread hushpuppy mix on a plate and spray a baking pan with the cooking spray. Set aside.

Season fish fillets with salt and pepper on both sides. Then spray both sides of fillets with cooking spray. Dip fillets into hushpuppy mix, pressing fish into mix to coat well. Place fillets in the prepared pan and mist with more cooking spray.

Place pan in upper third of oven and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness of the fillets. Serve with lemon wedges.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrient analysis provided by registered dietitians of the Augusta District Dietetic Association. Send questions via e-mail to augustadietitian@yahoo.com.

Karin Calloway is the online chef for Viking Range Corp. (www.vikingrange.com) and a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. You can write her in care of The Augusta Chronicle Newsroom P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903. Or send e-mail to karin.calloway@home.com.