Over the past year we’ve battered, breaded, and fried a lot of fresh crappie.  But, these cajun crappie cakes elicited a high five of ultimate approval after taking one bite.  And in case you’re wondering…we don’t normally high five at dinner time over recipe accomplishments. Although, I could get used to that.

Anyways, the flavor of these crappie cakes were out of this world.

My hubby has become quite the crappie slayer at Caesar’s Creek.  He recently had the opportunity to take a guided trip on Grenada Lake in Mississippi and brought us home some huge slabs.  I’m hearing murmurs of a fall trip brewing already.

Perhaps the best kitchen appliance we bought over the years has been our vacuum sealer.  We bagged and sealed over 5lbs of crappie from his trip.  However, we’ll be using these big filets for our favorite battered and fried version!

So this recipe came from a youtube video my hubby found posted by Outdoor Life.  I changed it up ever so slightly with the  addition of some panko breadcrumbs and additional parsley.

You start out by boiling the crappie filets for 2 minutes then breaking them up slightly after they’ve cooled.  I’ve got the wet mixture ready to go as well as some finely chopped parsley. 

homemade crappie cakes

After tossing everything in the bowl it’s time to make the crappie cakes.  Crappie-patties is what my kids call them in honor of their beloved Spongebob from younger years.  (glad that’s behind us)

We weighed out roughly 1lb of fish and it yielded 7 thick patties.  They’re very filling!!  Both hubby and I managed to barely finish two.

crappie cajun cakes

At first I was worried they weren’t going to hold up when it was time to flip them, but they held up beautifully.  Since the fish is already cooked in the boiling step, it’s really just a matter of letting them get evenly browned on both sides and allow them to heat through.

fried crappie cakes

What I also love about this crappie cake recipe is the house didn’t have an overpowering smell of fish.  Look at how delicious these look…

fried crappie cakes

When it was time to serve them up, we just squeezed a little extra lemon overtop!  No tartar sauce needed.

I’m sure this recipe could be used with other white fish that doesn’t easily get tough from cooking.  Of course if you’re experienced with crab, this recipe would make great crab cakes too.

 

Grab a beer, give em’ a try and lemme know what you think!

 

Cajun Crappie Cakes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb crappie filets
  • 1/4 cup light mayo
  • 1 TB dijon mustard (not the grainy kind)
  • 1.5 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • salt to taste
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup italian herb seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2-3 TB finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Canola oil for frying

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan bring some water to a boil, enough to cover the fish. When water comes to a boil, add crappie filets and allow to cook for 2 minutes or until opaque.
  2. Remove with a slotted spoon to a colander and allow to drain and cool slightly.
  3. Once cooled gently chop into smaller pieces and set aside.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl add mayo, dijon, Old Bay Seasoning, lemon juice, worcestershire sauce, salt and egg. Stir to combine all ingredients then add chopped crappie filets. Gently toss to incorporate then add breadcrumbs and parsley. Stir until everything just comes together.
  5. Assemble crappie cakes and set aside.
  6. Heat enough oil a large skillet, to just cover the bottom, over medium-high heat.
  7. Add crappie cakes to preheated oil and cook about 2-3 minutes per side or until evenly browned.
  8. Serve with extra lemon for squeezing overtop!
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Fish/Seafood

Fresh shrimp seasoned with pantry staples then sautéed and tossed with lite smoked sausage, zucchini and red peppers…What’s not to love?  This was a flavor packed quick and healthy dinner perfect to serve alongside some crusty garlic bread!

If that didn’t sell you enough on this dish, it’s finished off with some red wine bringing all the flavors perfectly together.

shrimp with zucchini

Pre-chopping everything for the dish is essential.  The red peppers and onions sauté first, then the smoked sausage, chopped zucchini and last minced garlic before tossing in the seasoned shrimp.  The assembly line goes fast bringing you a one pot meal from stove to table in 20 minutes!

chopped veggies

Seriously wishing it was the middle of summer and this zucchini came from my garden.  But alas, it was still hand-picked off the produce shelf!  Zucchini is best when it’s crisp-tender so… 1. don’t slice it too thin and 2. don’t overcook it! I sprinkled some seasoning on while it was sautéing to bring out more flavor.  Could eat zucchini everyday.

sauteed zucchini

Are you a fan of shrimp? Scared to cook it at home so you only order it at restaurants?

Honestly, until this dish it wasn’t something I fixed at home regularly. You know the drill though…chicken, chicken, beef, turkey, chicken, turkey, turkey, pork, roast beef…TIME FOR VARIETY! We also do baked cod frequently but shrimp is SUPER fast to prepare and an excellent source of protein! (unless your highly allergic like my mama)

italian sauteed shrimp

What I’ve learned from my experience cooking shrimp:

  1. season season season! The shrimp should be coated in seasoning to really give it a beautiful color, and flavor.  A little extra never hurts to toss on the veggies as well!
  2. get your skillet preheated to a medium-high heat with a bit of olive oil (or butter) before tossing in the shrimp (this I nailed with my cast iron)
  3. Shrimp cooks really fast so give it a minute or two on one side before tossing it to the other (I used to cook it for 5-10 minutes on each side like a chicken breast. Don’t be like old me)

zesty shrimp and sausage skillet

This was another dinner that was served a bit different for everyone: Mine was over a bowl of roasted spaghetti squash (seriously have an addiction lately), Vic’s was served as is with some parmesan cheese and Grace had hers without shrimp. All served with some garlic bread!

However you serve it, just trust me on the wow factor…it’s been made twice in one week! IT’S THAT GOOD.   

Zesty Shrimp, Smoked Sausage and Zucchini Bowl

Ingredients

  • 1/2-1lb fresh medium shrimp, peeled and deveined variety
  • 6 oz. lite smoked turkey sausage (I used Hillshire Farms Brand)
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 small zucchini, halved and chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup red cooking wine
  • 1 TB. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 TB parsley, finely chopped (optional)
  • parmesan cheese for topping (optional)
  • Seasoning:
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika (this is different from regular!)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • cayenne pepper (optional to taste)
  • dash each of cumin, salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Create seasoning mixture and set aside.
  2. Pre chop all veggies, garlic, and sausage.
  3. Prepare shrimp by placing on a large plate and patting dry with paper towels. Season with 1 1/2 tsp. of the spice mixture tossing to coat thoroughly. Set aside until ready to cook.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat with Olive Oil. Add chopped red pepper and onion to sauté for about 5 minutes. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
  5. In the same skillet add diced smoked sausage and sauté until a nice rich color appears on both sides, about 8 minutes.
  6. When sausage is done, add to bowl with peppers and onions and toss zucchini in the same skillet to sauté about 5 minutes. Add a bit of olive oil if necessary. Season with 1/2 tsp seasoning mixture, tossing to coat.
  7. Add minced garlic to pan and stir 30 seconds to avoid burning. Remove zucchini and garlic to same bowl with sausage and veggies.
  8. Add a bit more olive oil to pan and add shrimp and sauté 3-5 minutes, sprinkling with remaining seasoning. Toss back in zucchini, sausage, peppers, and onions.
  9. Lastly pour 1/3 cup red cooking wine into skillet and gently scrape bottom to release any bits. Reduce heat and allow to simmer 2-3 minutes before serving.
  10. Sprinkle some fresh parsley and parmesan cheese overtop before serving! Goes perfectly over a bed of roasted spaghetti squash, buttered noodles, rice or just some garlic bread.
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Fish/Seafood

Fresh pan fried tender flaky white crappie filets out of Rocky Fork Lake, caught by none other than my amazing husband on jigs he tied himself.  Doesn’t get more awesome than that.

cajun pan fried crappie filets

When Vic came home from an all day boat trip with his friend Sean Stone, who writes for Kayak Fishing Alliance Blog, and said he had a cooler full of crappie, he wasn’t kidding.  Sean helped contribute to our total and I’m very grateful because they were delicious! We kept them on ice until ready to filet them.  No worries, no gross pictures to follow…

Rocky Fork Lake crappie fish

“I shall call him squishy and he will be mine, and he shall be my squishy”…a little circa 2003, Finding Nemo for all you that live under a rock.  Never gets old.

Ladies and Gentleman, Mr. Crappie #1 of 20ish.crappie fish

The kids got a full lesson on how to properly filet the fish.  My kids personalities totally shine here…LJ is right up front and center while Grace has her phone camera ready for an interesting shot to share with friends.  I stayed happily behind the camera and let my man take charge in the kitchen for a change.
crappie filet

Once all the filets were ready, LJ helped rinsed them off and bag them up for the freezer.  If frozen in water they’ll stay fresh for up to a year.  We just needed a few weeks…

Before we could fry up our beautiful crappie filets I had to do a little shopping.  DARN.  To ensure we got the oil nice and perfectly hot I wanted to grab an oil thermometer.  It’s important to get the oil the right temp otherwise you risk soggy fish filets.  I never thought I’d say this, but we need a deep fryer to make the process faster and less messy next time!

crappie filets

Vic grabbed a box of cajun Shore Lunch from Field and Stream because honestly that man can’t walk into that store without grabbing something!  Much like me in a Home Goods.  Anyways…I wanted to make a homemade version for comparison that consisted of equal parts 1/2 cup cornmeal and flour, 1/2 tsp salt and paprika, and a few dashes of cayenne pepper.
cajun shore lunch

We set up our dredging station next to the stove with a paper towel lined platter nearby to drain the grease after removing the filets from the skillet.  Vic added the filets a few at a time to the egg wash then chose between each of the breading options.

See the 2 minutes left on the oven timer?  Our fries were almost done!  The fish cooks super fast so we didn’t start frying them up until the fries were ready to come out…
shore lunch cajun seasoning

When the oil was heated between 375-400 degrees we added a few filets at a time to the oil.  Allow them to fry for about 1 minute before flipping to the other side for another 30 seconds.

cast iron fried crappie filets

Look how beautiful those filets are!!  I never fry anything, but this was so darn wonderful it made me a convert.  At least for cajun crappie.
crappie fish filets

Carefully remove fish to a paper towel lined plate and give a little squeeze of lemon overtop.  Don’t forget some quality tartar sauce and french fries on the side!

The breading outcome was a complete tie! Vic and I thought the Cajun Shore Lunch breading was out of this world delicious.  It had a nice kick of spice but not too much.  Not crazy about the ingredient list, but after comparing it to my homemade version I think I could recreate it…more flour, less cornmeal and lots more paprika and cayenne!  The kids on the other hand preferred my homemade version which was great too.

fried crappie filets

Crappie can easily be substituted with another fresh white fish: perch and bluegill would be great.

Tender flaky fish, perfectly fried.  Well done babe.  You can stay in the kitchen…
fried crappie filets

While there’s not much of a recipe to share, we learned a few things about pan frying fish:
-A large bowl or ziploc bag would have been easier to dredge all the fish and toss them around
-The Shore Lunch recommended an oil temp of 350.  We fried ours closer to 400 which kept the outside perfectly crispy with tender flaky white meat inside.
-More seasoning the better!  I went rather conservative at 1/2-1 tsp of spices and I could have doubled it and included pepper as well (probably 1/4 tsp to start).  Although it was very tasty and the kids loved it, even the leftovers the following day reheated in a 425 degree oven for 8 minutes!
-More flour, less cornmeal creates a slightly fluffier batter.  Avoid clumps of batter on the fish before frying.
-Tongs do not make a good tool for removing delicate flaky fish…a slotted spoon worked much better!
-After running out of egg wash we switched to milk which worked just as well.  Next time we’ll try buttermilk that naturally coats better.
And last but not least…
-A better quality tartar sauce or homemade version.  The squeeze bottle brand I had wasn’t zippy enough.

All in all, it was a HUGE success and we want to go fishing now for more crappie.  By the way, it’s pronounced CROP-E, not crappie ;).

Fish/Seafood

It’s no secret I’m totally addicted to Sriracha sauce. But ONLY Trader Joe’s brand. I find the stuff with the green cap to be too spicy and the salt content is much higher too. It’s amazing on eggs, mixed with macaroni and cheese, sour cream, added to stuffed peppers… (to name a few) or mixed with this amazing remoulade for these fish tacos!

fish tacos with garlic sriracha remoulade | one strange herd

Remoulade is a fancy term for sauce-made-with-mayo. Or something like that. It may not look like much but it’s packed with flavor and totally necessary for these tacos!

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Fish tacos are one of my favorite restaurant menu items. Probably because the fish is always deep fried or blackened in a way I can’t duplicate at home. I deep fry nothing. I blacken nothing…on purpose. After making these I no longer need to order them out. They were EASY and the family raved about them. WINNER WINNER FISHY DINNER! Boom!

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The main star of these tacos is frozen cod I purchased from Costco. Each filet comes individually vacuumed sealed (5 large pieces per bag) which makes getting dinner ready a breeze. (And why are cute socks so stinkin expensive?! New socks do make me happy, especially my pink and gray chevron ones.)

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To thaw the filets I just followed the directions on the bag and put them in a bath of cool water and changed it every 5 minutes for about 15-20 minutes. We had 1 filet leftover and that’s after polishing off 7 tacos! For the record that was 3 corn tortilla tacos for me, 3 flour tacos for My Love, 1 flour taco for the GG, and just some plain fish for Linc!

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The smaller and thicker filets were still slightly frozen in the middle after a 20 minute luxurious water bath. No worries! While the fish was thawing I made the cabbage and carrot (not pictured, it was an after thought) slaw. Purple and orange have always been my favorite color combos…these fish tacos were just meant to be.

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Into the bowl goes julienned purple cabbage, cilantro, lime juice, and honey…and of course the carrot sticks, which not only provide more veggies but a wonderful crunch and pop of color…use your imagination.

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After the cod was semi-90%-thawed I begin the breading process. They get dredged first in egg then tossed in a mixture of panko, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, dried oregano, garlic powder, and cumin!

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Since mine were still a little frozen in the center I baked them for 10 minutes on each side. After 20 minutes I jabbed a fork in the thickest one and gave a little twirl…perfect white fluffy cod! Time to plate!

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Have mercy…huge flaky pieces of fish with that remoulade and crunchy slaw. Paired with some Peach Blue Moon…it doesn’t get better than this folks.

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And if you’re craving them again for lunch the next day but too lazy to heat up a corn tortilla (don’t judge)…serve it likeathees:

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Fish Tacos with Sriracha Garlic Remoulade

Ingredients

  • adapted from The Hungry Apple
  • 3 Cod filets, fresh or frozen, cut in half to form smaller pieces or strips.
  • 10 corn or small flour tortillas
  • 1 egg
  • slaw:
  • 1/2 head of purple cabbage, julienned
  • 3/4 cup matchstick carrots
  • 1 tsp honey
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 2TB chopped cilantro
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • seasoning:
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • remoulade:
  • 1/2 cup light olive oil mayo
  • 1/2 cup fat free sour cream
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • dash of cayenne, salt and pepper
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 tsp sriracha sauce

Instructions

  1. 1. Combine all ingredients for the remoulade in a small bowl and set aside in the fridge.
  2. 2. In another bowl mix together cabbage, cilantro, honey, lime, carrots, salt and pepper and set aside in fridge as well.
  3. 3. Combine seasonings and panko for breading. Dip each filet in egg then panko seasoning using a spoon to help coat the fish to ensure the seasonings aren't resting on the bottom. 4.Lay each filet on a greased cookie sheet and Bake at 450 for 10 minutes each side. Adjust time by a few minutes if your filets are more or less frozen in the middle.
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Fish/Seafood