Lenten tradition: Fish fries draw big crowds this time of year

Many local churches, clubs and organizations will hold fish fries through mid-April.
Ed Haun/Detroit Free Press/MCT
Story by Susan M. Selasky
(Detroit Free Press/MCT)
Fri, Mar 18, 2011
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March and April wouldn't be the same without the Lenten fish fries served up at many area churches, clubs and organizations like the Knights of Columbus.

It's a big draw for hundreds of people. Tim Huber has been running the Friday fish fry at the United Methodist Church in Royal Oak, Mich., for 14 years. At each of the church's three fish fries so far this year, more than 300 people have been served, Huber says.

"As fast as it comes out of the oven or deep-fryer, it's on their plate," he says. "No one has to wait more than half an hour.

"We buy absolutely only the best fish you can buy," says Huber, a church member and fish broker. "We serve frozen skin-on Icelandic baby cod, haddock and walleye.”

If you want to have your own, check out these recipes for beer-battered fish and coleslaw.

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BEER-BATTERED COD

Serves: 4 / Preparation time: 20 minutes / Total time: 45 minutes

BATTER

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 12 ounces beer
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Oil for deep frying

FISH

  • 2 pounds cod fillets, rinsed, patted dry
  • Flour for dredging
  • Salt and pepper or an all-purpose seasoning, optional
  • Tartar sauce, optional

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt; make a well in the center. Add the egg yolk and half of the beer; whisk, gradually drawing in the flour to form a smooth paste. Stir in the remaining beer and the oil; do not over mix. Cover and let stand for 15 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil for deep-frying (you'll need at least 8 cups) to 375 degrees.

Cut the cod fillets into 4-inch pieces. Beat the egg white until very foamy and fold it into the batter. Place the flour in a pie plate or shallow dish and season with salt, pepper or all-purpose seasoning.

Working in batches, dredge the fish pieces with flour, shaking to remove the excess. Dip a piece into the batter and place in the hot oil. Fry about 4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish or until golden brown and crisp. Remove and drain well on paper towels; keep warm. Repeat with remaining pieces of fish. Serve with tartar sauce, if desired, and coleslaw.

Adapted from "Anne Willian's Cook it Right" by Anne Willian (Readers Digest, $29.95).

Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

431 calories (37 percent from fat), 18 grams fat (1 gram sat. fat), 24 grams carbohydrates, 40 grams protein, 298 mg sodium, 113 mg cholesterol, 1 gram fiber.

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CREAMY COLESLAW

Serves: 10 / Preparation time: 10 minutes / Total time: 25 minutes

  • 1 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 head green or savoy cabbage, finely shredded (about 8 cups)
  • 1/2 small head red cabbage, shredded (about 4 cups)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup minced green pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons celery seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, cider vinegar, sugar and sour cream. Add the onion, green and red cabbages, carrots, green pepper and celery seeds. Fold gently to mix all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours before serving.

From and tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

129 calories (58 percent from fat), 6 grams fat (3 grams sat. fat), 17 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 250 mg sodium, 12 mg cholesterol, 1 gram fiber.

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