Fresh Virginia Rockfish served with Sweet Cream, Flash-Fried Oysters, Local Tomatoes and Green Onions
4 (6-7 ounce) boneless, skinless fresh rockfish fillets
2 tablespoons blended olive oil
1 tablespoons Montreal seasoning, divided
1 cup solid vegetable shortening (Cristco)
16 freshly shucked oysters, the largest are called “counts”
2 whole eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups fine ground cracker meal
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups Sweet Cream and Fresh Herb Sauce
1/2 cup diced fresh tomatoes
2 tablespoons finely diced spring onions
Take the rockfish fillets and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle both sides of the fish fillets with about half of the Montreal seasoning. In a preheated 350-degree oven, place the rockfish fillets in a baking sheet lined with foil. Cook for about 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the filet. When the filet becomes completely white through the sides, it is ready. Please do not overcook the wonderful fish.
In a separate, raised-side skillet, place the solid vegetable shortening on a medium heat until melted and hot.
Before the shortening is melted and getting hot, take the shucked oysters and place in a bowl with the beaten eggs, milk and resr if the Montreal seasoning. Let soak for a few minutes then roll the oysters on a raised- edge pan containing cracker meal. The breading of oysters in a careful process. I tell people I judge the quality of a seafood restaurant on a few basic items, the breading of an oyster being one. The double bread of an oyster, meaning no flour, then egg wash, then heavy breading is sinful. The oyster should only be soaked in a seasoned egg wash then individually handled through the cracker meal, lightly patting the “yolk” or the raised center of the oyster before carefully placing on a piece of wax paper and refrigerated. The oyster should be allowed to sit uncovered in a refrigerator for at least 20 minutes before frying so the crust does not come off. Another helpful hint with oysters is to never cover them in a refrigerator, even overnight; they will become soggy and dark when frying.
I guess I have made it clear how much respect I have for the beloved “Flash-Fried Oyster.” When the shortening is very hot, not smoking, but hot to a crackle if water is sprinkled in the pan, place the breaded oyster by hand in the hot oil as quickly as possible. As they begin to brown, turn the oysters over to crisp on both sides. When the oysters are finishing frying, place on a paper lined pate and sprinkle with salt and ground black pepper.
Now it is time to “Plate Up”. First on the dinner plate, place about two or three ounces of sweet cream and herb sauce. Next, take the baked piece of fresh rockfish fillet and place over the sweet cream. Arrange four fried oysters around the rockfish fillet and top with the fresh tomato and spring onion. A suitable accompaniment for this dish may be a variety of grilled vegetables; asparagus comes to mind first and I would not serve a starch with this dish.