Enquirer Herald

Brad Harvey: Enjoy summer’s plethora of panfish

Brad Harvey
Brad Harvey

As I was growing up, several of the men in our church would spend the summer months catching fish in preparation for a big fish fry that we’d have each September over at Uncle Bate’s cabin off of, appropriately enough, Bate Harvey Road.

When that day came we’d have about every type of fish imaginable fried to a golden brown, but it was always the bream and other panfish that seemed to be the favorites for many of the folks in attendance and there’s good reason for that.

These white, flaky and mild-flavored freshwater fish are about as good as it gets when it comes to eating and, since they’re generally small, it has to be considered a bonus that they’re both easy to catch and often caught in abundance.

Whether you’re looking for a great, simple meal or looking to make even more memories from a special day on the water, here are a handful of recipes for panfish that will accomplish both and leave ‘em asking for more this summer.

Properly Fried Panfish

2 pounds fresh panfish fillets

1/8 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3 to 4 cups of self-rising white corn meal

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

Canola oil

Rinse the fillets. In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients except the corn meal. After mixing well with your hands, cover with plastic wrap to keep from drying out. Refrigerate overnight, mixing occasionally.

When it’s time to prepare, place oil in a heavy, cast iron pan and heat to 375 degrees, being careful not to overheat.

Place the cornmeal in a plastic bag. Drop in several fillets and shake around in the cornmeal until well coated. Slowly place the fillets in the pan of hot oil and fry for three minutes on each side or until the meat is flaky and the crust golden brown.

Parmesan Panfish

2 panfish fillets

All-purpose flour

Garlic powder

Onion powder

1 ounce grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup cornmeal

Vegetable oil

In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk and parmesan cheese. In a different bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of flour, a dash of onion powder, salt and pepper and garlic powder.

Spread the cornmeal onto a plate.

Preheat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a skillet. Coat each fillet with the flour mixture before dipping into the buttermilk and parmesan cheese. Next, drop it on the plate of cornmeal and coat evenly.Add the fillets to the hot pan and cook for about 3 minutes per side.

Serve with ketchup or tartar sauce.

Fish Cakes

1 pound of panfish fillets, cooked and flaked

1 minced onion

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 to 1/2 cup cornflake crumbs

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons mustard

Vegetable oil

Mix the egg, onion, mustard, parsley, lemon juice and salt and pepper in a bowl. Toss with the flaked fish.

Add in enough of the cornflake crumbs to shape into several fish cakes and then roll them in extra crumbs to cover the outside of each. Heat the oil in a skillet and fry until golden brown.

Panfish Po Boys

6 fried panfish fillets

1 cup ketchup

1 tablespoons mustard

1 tablespoons minced onion

Several dashes of hot sauce

6 large, crusty rolls


With a knife, carefully split the rolls in half, lengthwise. Place rolls in oven until warmed but not toasted or crispy.

Combine the ketchup, mustard, onion and hot sauce. Spread the mixture onto the rolls.Place the fried fillets in the rolls, top with a pickle and enjoy!

Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover. Visit his web site at www.bradharveyoutdoors.com or follow on Twitter @BHarveyOutdoors.