Panfish are edible game fish which are usually smaller than an average frying pan while being also large enough to be considered a legal catch. The term is general and includes fish such as yellow perch, candlefish, rock bass, white bass or bluegill, amongst other breeds. Since there are so many different types, one can expect to find a lot of different ways of cooking them, each adapted to a particular species.
Great panfish recipes
Bluegill with Parmesan
It is not often that you find recipes combining fish and cheese, but this is an example of an alternative dinner everybody will enjoy. It does not require too many ingredients neither is it time-consuming; 1 pound bluegill will yield about three or even four servings.
Start by placing a quarter cup melted butter in a bowl; combine half a cup bread crumbs and some Parmesan cheese with herbs, paprika, pepper and other flavored plants to your liking in another bowl. Dip the fish in the first bowl with butter and then dredge it through the crumb mixture.
To cook it, all you have to do is place it in a greased baking pan. Before putting the bluegill in the oven, preheat it to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake without covering the flesh for about 20 minutes or until you deem it as done.
When it flakes quickly, it means that it has cooked enough. This recipe can be used for other panfish too, but bluegill yields the best results.
This recipe allows you great freedom of choice – you can opt for fillets, or you can cook the whole fish if you do not have the patience required to portion it in fillets. To begin with, fillet the bluegill fish by using a sharp knife.
Once the pieces of flesh are clean and done, marinate in Italian dressing for at least 4 hours, even though it is more advisable to allow it a whole night’s time to rest in the marinade.
After lighting the grill, prepare a basting liquid with butter or olive oil, adding spices to your liking (usually, Rosemary or Thyme are preferred). Do not add too many herbs since the excess is not recommended in this case.
While the fish are cooking over the grill, use a brush to spread the mixture over the fillets. Turn them only once, right when they start flaking and remove them when both sides turn golden-brown.
If you prefer eating whole fish, with the skin on, you have to follow the same cooking steps. Be sure to have a sharp knife at your disposal when preparing the bluegill, before marinating it, as you must properly clean and descale it.
Then you can follow the instructions mentioned above, only that this time you have to watch the skin lighten up or the basting turn golden-brown.
A more interesting idea would be to prepare grilled bluegill fajitas. Add a tablespoon of lime juice, cilantro, salt, and pepper in a small bag, place the fillets in it and shake a little bit, allowing the bits to sit in the bag for a while.
Grill and roll the strips in corn tortillas, adding additional lemon juice and vegetables such as avocado, tomatoes, and lettuce.
Fried Perch Fillets
One of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways of cooking an excellent perch dinner is to prepare fried fillets. This simple recipe requires you to start by mixing 1 and a half cups of flour, some paprika, and half a teaspoon salt together in a bowl.
Blend one egg and one cup of milk in another bowl and, after doing this, melt some butter in a large frying pan which can hold the fillets simultaneously.
Dip the perch in the egg and then in the flour mixture, carefully placing them in the frying pan afterward. Allow them to cook until they start flaking or they turn golden-brown and remove the chunks from the pan. Absorb excess butter on a paper towel, draining them before serving while still hot.
Foil Baked Sunfish
Another type of panfish is commonly known as sunfish – there are more breeds, all of which are pretty much similar in size. There are many ways of cooking it – baking is one of the most popular methods, as it is healthier and also tasty.
Start by cutting large squares of aluminum foil, big enough to cover the whole fish when you are packing it, leaving no open spaces.
Lay only one sunfish fillet into the center of each aluminum square, adding a lot of lemon juice over the flesh. Seasoning can be done at this moment, or, if you want something more simple, add only a few fresh herbs to your liking.
Baking takes about 15 minutes; preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit before getting the sunfish in it. Pack the fillets with the foil, creating a tight seal which will not allow the flavors to escape. Insert them in the oven and wait until they are done.
Bullhead Po Boys
A more exciting recipe allows you to prepare bullhead fish and by giving them an exotic taste, it guarantees to result in an enjoyable meal. You need six large and crusty rolls to start with, as well as six bullhead fillets.
Halve the rolls (be sure to do this lengthwise) and scoop out the centers to create enough space for the fish. Place them in the oven until they are hot but not crispy. Combine hot sauce, ketchup, mustard, and onions in a separate bowl and spread the baked bread with this mixture.
Frying the fillets is pretty straightforward, but must be done before the steps mentioned above. You can use oil or butter, and a mixture of egg and milk. After dipping the fish in the egg wash, dredge it through some flour and lay it in a pan, where butter or oil has been preheated to a high temperature. Keep the fire on until the fish fillets turn golden-brown on each side.
Once the flesh is done, place it on the rolls. Add the remaining sauce mixture over the bullhead fillets, topped with pickles. Add the top half of the roll, and you are ready for serving.
Panfish with Herbs
You can start preparing this easy recipe that works for most panfish by melting one tablespoon butter and pouring it into a shallow baking dish. Lay the fillets in the bowl, cut one lemon in half and squeeze about one tablespoon of juice over the fillets.
Add herbs to your liking, and then slice the other half lemon and place the slices on the panfish. Bake in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for about 12-15 minutes.