Difficulty: Easy but special equipment needed
One day in the early 1990s at a very high quality fish market where I was living in Massachusetts, I was aghast at the prices I was paying. Swordfish was $14 a pound, tuna $15, salmon $11, even cod was $9. This was crazy. There was also a fish called ocean pout for $2.99 a pound. I remembered having heard of it, but couldn't quite place what it was. But I figured, all these fish came from the same ocean, they're all equally fresh, so how bad could ocean pout be? Little did I realize that family and friends would be exclaiming how good this fish, also called ling, was. The texture is vaguely like lobster tails, with a taste a little sweeter than monkfish. It was a beautiful tasting fish, and the price was right. It was cheap because Bostonians consider ling a trash fish. You can use a mix of fish too--sometimes fishmongers sell what they call "chowder" or "soup" fish, which are irregular pieces of fish. As an update, I thought the reader would be interested in knowing that swordfish was at $25 a pound, tuna at $32 a pound, and Alaskan cod at $12 a pound in California in 2014. This recipe is an Algerian take in frying fish although typically only a dusting of flour might be used.
[photo: Clifford A. Wright]
Yield: Makes 4 servings
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
6 to 8 cups olive oil for frying
1 large egg
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt and more if desired
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound ocean pout (ling) or monkfish or any mixed fish pieces
1. In a deep-fryer or an eight-inch saucepan with a wire fry basket, preheat the frying oil to 370ºF.
2. In a bowl, beat the egg and then stir in the flour, milk, water, cumin, and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. It should be a thin batter.
3. Dip the fish pieces, a handful at a time, into the batter. Let some of the batter drain off, and quickly drop them in succession one at a time into the oil. Fry 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Taste one and adjust the cooking time for the remaining fish to cook to your liking. Season with more salt and serve.