Our long summer holidays spell a rolling caravan of beautifully fresh, simply prepared seafood feasts. Fish and chips at the beach. Freshly shucked oysters au naturel. Platefuls of fried flathead fillets with beer battered potato scallops. Calamari fritti. Slow baked salmon in a preserved lemon chermoula and soft herbs. Prawns on the barbie, or even simpler; crusty prawn baguettes. The list goes on and on.
Yesterday at the fishmongers I spied a rarely available treat. Delicate fillets of sweet fine fleshed garfish. Scrupulously fresh, still smelling of the sea. Usually I can only buy these small and slender, pointy nosed fishes whole. Needing to set aside all of my squeamishness to clean and fillet them myself at home. Always reminding myself the delicious reward at the end of the task is well worth the effort.
Cleaned and filleted garfish really doesn’t require much preparation at all. It’s delicious dusted with just a little seasoned flour and pan-fried. Or for something a little more sophisticated with a whole lot of wow factor there’s this idea. Little garfish rolls filled with lemon and basil scented panko crumbs. Simply roll each fillet around a heaped teaspoon of the panko crumb filling, secure with a toothpick and pan fry in olive oil or butter until golden. If garfish is a little difficult to come by, or you’re not quite up to the challenge of filleting your own, try substituting sand whiting. It’s fillets are generally of a similar size and texture to garfish and a whole lot easier to source.
Pan-Fried Garfish Rolls Filled With Lemon And Basil Scented Panko Crumbs.
16 (500g) small garfish or sand whiting fillets, skin on
4 tablespoons olive oil and/or butter
2 long green spring onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
6 tablespoons panko or bread crumbs
6 basil leaves, finely shredded, plus a little extra to garnish
finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons plain flour, seasoned with sea salt and pepper
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
PREPARE the filling by sautéing spring onions and garlic in a small fry pan over medium heat in 2 tablespoons olive oil and/or butter until soft and transparent. Remove from heat and stir through panko crumbs, shredded basil, lemon zest and juice. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
LAY garfish, skin-side down, on a flat work surface. Season with a little sea salt and pepper then place a heaped teaspoon of the filling at one end of each fillet and roll up as tightly as possible.
SECURE each roll with a toothpick, Dust lightly with seasoned flour.
PAN FRY garfish rolls on their sides in remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and /or butter, in a fry pan over medium heat, until golden and cooked through. Just a few minutes on each side, turning to get an even colour all over with a quick final sear of the top and bottoms should do the trick.
SERVE with shredded basil and a squeeze of lemon.
Perfect as canapes as Christmas and oh so good for you because of the small fish – perhaps they would work with sardines as well?
Definitely but of course the flavours would be a little more robust as sardines are an oily fish. Perhaps lots of lemon,garlic, chilli and parsley in the filling.