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Try Grilling Your Holiday Fish
By Jonie Maschek
Nov 20, 2008 - 9:09:39 AM

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It is the holiday season, with Thanksgiving next Thursday. For those who love fish, I have some great Thanksgiving recipes for you.

Living in Florida, you can cook outside on this special day. How about ‘fish on the grill?’ Your ­dinner will be healthy, easy, quick, and can be served elegantly.

You need to know how long to grill your fish. I have come up with this scale:
Small whole fish: 6 to 9 minutes on each side.
Shorty Brown of Plant City grills fish.

Large whole fish: 11 to 20 minutes on each side or a bit longer if flesh is firm and thick. Cook 10 minutes per inch of thickness.

Your fish is done when it begins to flake. Remove your fish whole using greased spatulas -- one on each end if a large fish.

It is important to watch your fish closely, otherwise it may be dry on the inside and charred on the outside.

Most grills are gas or electric, but if you use charcoal or buttonwood, start your grill 45 minutes before you plan to cook your fish. You will be ready to cook when you have a grayish white ash.

Most grilled fish is served with a sauce, and I know many simple butter sauces.
To your melted butter, add chopped green onions, capers, sage, tarragon, dry mustard, thyme, dill, or horseradish. Make your own mix as you choose.
Herbs and butter go well ­together with all types of fish. Just mix and pour over your grilled fish after placing it on the serving dish.

Garnish with bright yellow ­lemon slices, sprigs of parsley or twigs of fresh dill.
To prepare a lemon-butter sauce to pour over 4 servings of grilled fish you will need:
4 tbs. butter (½ stick)
2 tsp. minced parsley
2 tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon rind
When asking some anglers about their choice of sauce, they came up with this recipe, which will make a 1½ cup of sauce.
¼ cup of beer
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup catsup
¼ tsp. horseradish
½ tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. of mustard

This is a hearty sauce and may not be for all, but they insist it is the best.
For those catching freshwater catfish, I have a healthy sauce for grilled catfish that will grace your Thanksgiving table with beauty.

Brush your fish with oil, grill 3 minutes, turn over and brush the other side and repeat until flaky. Serve with the following sauce.

½ cup of chili sauce
1 large minced clove garlic
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium green pepper, seeded and chopped
3 cups Ruskin tomatoes, diced
1 bay leaf
½ tsp. paprika
2 tbs. butter
Cook over low heat, stir often until veggies are soft. After discarding the bay leaf, pour over your catfish. This will yield 4 servings.
Try a Southern Thanksgiving dinner with hush puppies.
1½ cups yellow corn meal
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
2 or more minced green onions
4 tbs. bacon drippings or oil
Drop by teaspoon in 375° hot oil in a fry-daddy or a black cast-iron skillet. Don’t crowd them -- cook about 4 or 6 at a time. Cook until golden brown on all sides. Place on paper towels to drain off excess oil and serve with your creole sauce dressing catfish.

If the only fish you can catch for your Thanksgiving dinner is a shark, I hope it is a black tip. I have an elegant recipe. Why not serve it kabob style?

Once you have dressed your shark, take those thick shark steaks and cut them in cubes, about 1½” size. Soak cubes in milk for about an hour. They are now ready to thread on your skewers with some the following:
Zucchini, or yellow squash in slices; small pearl onions or fresh green onions; Ruskin oranges or tangerines quartered.
After filling your skewer, brush with oil, shake or sprinkle dried thyme over each. Grill until shark is flaky; watch and turn the skewer to cook your veggies; serve over buttered noodles with chopped chive.
You may add an ­ orange sauce over your kabobs. It is simple to make out of Ruskin oranges.
½ cup orange juice
1 tbs. grated orange peel
1 stick of melted butter
2 large shallots or green onions, minced
Mix, bring to a boil and pour over your shark. This will serve 4 people.
You can also make kabobs with shrimp, scallops, or any fish cube, and add peaches, pineapple, or any vegetable. Be creative -- do it your way.

November is a great productive month for fish in our waterways. You will find great schools of redfish in the flats, tailing while feeding.

Grouper is still hanging out at the ship channels waiting for your bait. Silver trout are still cruising around the mouth of the Little Manatee and are being landed at some piers.

Cobia love our warm waters and are still swimming as far out as the flats. They have let the manatees take over their warm water haven at the power plant.
Sheepshead is a lean white meat and a great catch for dinner. Flounder have come alive with a bit of cooler weather and have left their lazy relaxed sleeping area on the sandy bottoms of our water­ways.

The mouth of the Alafia River has yielded some snook catches. The Kitchen has been a haven for a variety of catches this week, from sheepshead to redfish.
I hope you will include some type of fish in your holidays this year. Fish is healthy for you and is found in your backyard. All you need to do is drop a line.
-- 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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