Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Panko-Crusted Cusk

I have neglected this blog for far too long. It was a very hot, and busy, summer with not much desire or opportunity to try new recipes and post them. Well, actually, the posting was the main problem. I do have photos in my camera showing some of the more interesting recipes that I prepared, but the heat and humidity usually thwarted my efforts to write any semblance of an interesting review.

Well, that ended this week. The heat and humidity, I mean. We returned home from vacation to cool weather, turning leaves, rain. My house remains decorated with bright pastel colors and jars of seashells and other summery décor but, as soon as I have caught up on clearing out the flower beds and garden of their dying plants and unpacking, I will need to start the autumn routine of breaking down the back porch, cleaning the chair cushions and pillows, and covering the furniture; storing those summery decorations now on the tables and mantles, shutting down the goldfish pond, and (what really proves that summer is over), packing up all of my orange and yellow Fiestaware and swapping it with the red and black dishes which we use during the fall and winter. *sigh*

Last night I made meatloaf with boiled new potatoes and green beans (from my Dad’s garden). A good autumn meal for a cool and drizzly fall evening. But let’s go back a few days and remember a very tasty part of our summer vacation.

Before leaving the Massachusetts coast, we stopped by our favorite fresh fish store. I bought lobster to take to my parents for lobster rolls and a large piece of a fish, previous to this trip unknown to us, called cusk. The fishmonger had told us, way back when we arrived at our vacation rental and went to find something to make for dinner, that cusk tasted like catfish. We bought a piece and enjoyed it so much that I made it several times during our stay.

It’s a pretty awful name, isn’t it? Cusk . If pathagonian toothfish could magically turn into Chilean sea bass, why can’t those people who rename fish do something similar to bump up the image of the poor cusk? This is a fish species that lives in the waters of the northern Atlantic, off the coast of the New England states.

What we enjoyed most about cusk was that it resembled cod, and was almost as firm-fleshed as cod, but the taste was sweet, close to catfish. Our favorite way to enjoy cusk is a very simple one.

I soak the cusk in milk, turning often, for about 15-20 minutes. Panko crumbs, granulated garlic, thyme, paprika, s & p, and chili powder is mixed on a plate. I heat a nonstick pan and drizzle about 2 tablespoons of light olive oil into it. The fish is then removed from the milk, covered with the crumb mixture (pressing it firmly into the fish), and placed in the hot pan. I fry it for about 4 minutes (until the bottom is golden), then spray cooking spray on the top of the fillets before turning. Another 3-4 minutes of cooking, and we have crispy, golden, tender fish fillets for dinner.

This is how I prepared our last fresh-from-Massachusetts dinner, made on a rainy fall evening the day we arrived home. We enjoyed it very much. I wonder if some of the specialty fish shops in Pittsburgh carry cusk? Probably not, but it gives us yet another reason to anticipate our (hopefully) eventual move to the coast of New England.

Panko-crusted cusk (with Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend and fresh beets).

I hope to get back to posting more regularly, now that the craziness of summer are over!