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How To Cook Fish For a Crowd
By Jonie Maschek
Oct 23, 2008 - 10:26:30 AM

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My phone calls this week were all about fish, but I chose to ­answer this question.
How do you cook fish for a crowd?

6 oz. servings for 32 people or­
8 oz. servings for 24 people:

12 lbs. catfish fillets (or mullet)
  1 cup lemon juice
 ½ cup pressed garlic
 ½ cup fish seasoning, like O’Bay
Be sure that fish is clean. Put above ingredients on each fillet, bake in about four pans at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until your fish is flaky.
Catfish and mullet are a fat fish with 91 gr. cholesterol content and 4.5 of fat per serving.

Flounder: 8 oz. servings for 24 people:
12 lbs. flounder fillets
 ½ cup vegetable oil or butter
  2 cups chopped almonds
2½ cups bread crumbs
  ½ cup lemon juice
  1 cup milk
  2 eggs, beaten
  Dip fillets in egg-milk mix

Roll in bread crumbs and ­almonds; pour juice over. Place in four pans with melted butter or vegetable oil. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until flaky.
Flounder and mullet are two fish that can be caught in our ­waterways. Mullet can be caught by throwing a cast net and retrieving many at a time, while flounder would be caught one at a time. So, if cooking flounder, it would be best for you to go to your ­local fish market, or save catches in your freezer until you get 12 lbs.

If you like white sauce over your fish, here is recipe for 24 people:
1  cup flour
1½ quarts milk
1  cup butter

Melt butter in pan, mix flour and milk, pour into butter, stir, as not to lump. Pour over fish fillets.

A new angler to our waterways  was asking about barracuda. As far as I know, we do not have this fish, but a stray one may swim by someday. I know this is a savage fish that will slash at any object, more from meanness or curiosity than from hunger.

About the barb wire across the new information, but several anglers have cut it so that they could go up the river from 24th Street. As of now, we do not know who is putting the wire across the river.

It is now snow crab season -- Oct. 15 to May 15. Crab claws should be available at restaurants, seafood stores and in your supermarkets.

Florida has 4,500 miles of coastline with many anglers packing their suntan oil and fishing gear, heading to Florida this time of the year.

It is interesting to note that boat sales are down. Many boat dealers are struggling in today’s economy.

I have seen more boats being launched as gas now has dropped in price -- some below $3. Some are still parked in “safe harbor,” around the bay area.

One bait shop has closed down in Sun City, on Hwy. 41 South, and another is up for sale in south Ruskin. Most bait shops say business is going on as usual, as fishing takes place here each day of the year, rain or shine.

After a heavy rain, catches are often only what I call trash fish. The ugly toad fish lives in the mud on the bottom of the rivers and the rain brings them to surface for food. They have a mouthful of teeth, so be careful taking them off the hook.

The saltwater catfish are often caught by those pier or bridge fishing. Some skin this fish and eat them, but I would only eat the freshwater catfish. Blowfish, I would say are not edible, but I am sure somebody out there will tell me that they have eaten one.

Jellyfish are transparent and surely not edible. Stingrays are not edible, but some have told me that their wings are, and that so-called scallops are cut from them and may be served to you as real scallops. I have been told that if you are served big scallops perfectly round and thick...they are just not real scallops.

Many people were fooled on grouper, and some were caught serving another fish in your so-called grouper sandwich. Snook are being caught this week and I’m sure many are enjoying baked fish for dinner. Redfish are ­restricted to one fish per person per day, with those fishing the canals at Simmons Park, catching their ­quota each day.

I heard complaints about the ­recent closing of one section of the Skyway pier. I’ll bet you are not half as upset as the owners who put money into their bait shop there and had to close without warning.

Lucky anglers were at the ship channels at the right time and the right day to catch stray gag ­grouper. Kingfish are racing one another in schools across our bay waters. Those able to make a catch tell us that they are all good size.

This is fall, or is it? Our weather has been like summer and it is late October, so the cobia are still in the swim and are giving some ­anglers a workout before being boated. Black drum have invaded the Little Manatee with anglers getting a thrill out of these hefty fish on the end of their line. They are numerous and a fun fish to catch. As I have written many times -- watch the worms in the big ones; small ones are OK.

Angler fishing in the fresh waterways of the Alafia and Little Manatee Rivers are enjoying fried catfish and southern hushpuppies for dinner. Those not catching catfish have been landing largemouth bass, which are good baked with a Ruskin tomato and onion sauce dipped over as they bake.

You live in the greatest fishing spot in the world -- take advantage of it.
 -- Aleta Jonie Maschek is a ­member of Florida Outdoor Press­.

© Copyright 2008 by The Observer News Publications and M&M Printing Company, Inc.

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