One of the difficult aspects of trying to eat clean, is finding food that has flown under commercially grown/raised/harvested radar. It’s difficult to come by. For example: Raw milk. It’s amazing stuff, but in my state, acquiring it has to be a transaction between producer and consumer exclusively. Same with eggs from hens that have not been treated with antibiotics (which is part of the reason I keep my own!) Know and befriend your local farmers! Meat is less difficult to find but more expensive. Again—make friends with all your local producers and farmers.
If you live in a rural area, hunters and fishermen can also be fantastic suppliers of meat and fish (harvested within seasonal limits and legal parameters of course—I shouldn’t even have to say that, but I don’t want anything taken out of context here). When it comes to wild game, you are guaranteed meat and fish that are free of antibiotics and growth hormones.
Thinking about where our food comes from is an excellent practice in conservation, environmental awareness, stewardship, and mindfulness. We take care of the things that hold value, and until we recognize the work that goes into feeding our bodies, we will not value it. For this same reason we teach our children/friends/spouses to cook. There is value in the art of nourishing ourselves and others.
I have a lot of hunting and fishing friends. One of them recently asked if I was interested in some Crappie—a small pan fish that is both extremely tasty and prolific in our local lakes. He’d caught his limit ice fishing and had some to share. Did I want some fillets?
Did I ever!
This recipe came out of his provision.
The idea of hunting and fishing can be a touchy topic for some, and I’ll not get into the ethical arguments here. Suffice it to say I am thankful for the work so many men and women do, on so many fronts, to put food on tables across the country, whether by farming, gardening, hunting, or fishing.
COCONUT CRUSTED PANFISH
A dozen fillets or more, depending on your crowd.
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups of unsweetened coconut flakes
½- ¾ cup olive oil
Cast Iron pan (not absolutely necessary, but your fish will definitely fry better if you use a cast iron pan rather than a standard or coated sauté pan)
Begin by making sure the fish have been cleaned well—meaning the bones have all been removed. Nothing is worse than swallowing a small sharp bone while you’re trying to enjoy dinner! Run your fingers along the middle of the fillets and if you feel any small bones remaining in the meat, use a meat scissors and simply trim that section of meat off the fillet. The shape of the fillets will be very un-even and reminiscent of fish sticks at times more than a standard fillet. No worries. The taste negates their appearance entirely.
In a shallow dish (a pile plate works great!) mix the coconut flakes and 1 teaspoon of salt together.
Then in a mixing bowl, mix up the eggs and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt until frothy.
In a cast iron pan, over high/med-high heat, warm olive oil until a small drip of egg bubbles and fries.
Immersing each fish fillet in the egg, make sure it is well coated, remove and allow to drip off the excess egg briefly and then drop it into the coconut flakes. Cover and pat until the flakes stick to the entire surface of the fish. Carefully place it in the fry pan and repeat until the pan is full of fillets. Brown for about 1-2 minutes and then turn and brown the other side, turning each fillet over in the order it was placed in the pan so each one is cooked approximately the same amount of time. Place the fillets on paper toweling to absorb any excess oil and serve hot.
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