Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Baltimore Lake Trout Sandwich



     Anyone who has ever watched the show "The Wire" knows about Lake Trout in Baltimore.  Nobody really knows where the habit of calling whiting "lake trout" in Baltimore came from.  Some theorize it started with the Black Muslim movement of the 60's, others because Whiting was the last fish to show up to market during the day so it was given the name lake trout to make it sound more fancy.  One thing is for certain though, Baltimore's Lake Trout Sandwich is a Soul Food favorite.  The Roost was serving lake trout since 1974 and you can guarantee a line was always out the door.  For a little bit of money you get a huge portion of fried whiting fillets, side dishes and bread.  

Lake Trout at The Roost.  Note the texture of the breading.
     Sadly, The Roost is no longer with us after the owner passed away but it's spirit lives on in many other places in Baltimore that sell Lake Trout.  If you've ever searched for a recipe for this dish you're going to find there aren't many... actually only 2, mine and a guy who blogs recipes of food seen on TV shows.  I've always wanted to revisit this recipe as I didn't get it right the last time.  I was hurrying and well, I got a bad result.  So I sat down the other day and started thinking about Soul Food fish recipes in an effort to deconstruct this recipe.  On thing I came up with is a marinade in buttermilk before breading which is an essential element of fried catfish.  Since whiting can be every bit as fishy tasting as catfish you want to do what you can to mitigate that flavor.

     Now a few notes about ingredients.  Old Bay or an equivalent Maryland seafood seasoning in essential.  Personally, I use my own recipe which you can find here.  The next thing is the cornmeal.  It is essential to use fine grind cornmeal that has an almost flour like consistency. If you don't, your fish is going to come out with a texture like 150grit sandpaper.     If you can get whole whiting, that's perfect.  It should be gutted, head off and butterflied with the tail still on.  If not, don't worry, most supermarkets these days sell whiting fillets in the frozen section.  Just thaw them out before starting.

Baltimore Lake Trout Sandwich

2lbs Whiting Fillets

Batter/Marinade
1C Buttermilk
1 Tbs Seafood Seasoning
1/2tsp salt
1/4tsp pepper

Breading
1/2C All Purpose Flour
1/2C fine corn mean/flour
1/4C Baking Powder
2T Seafood Seasoning
1tsp Salt
1/2tsp Ground Pepper
1/4 tsp each, granulated garlic, granulated onion and cayenne pepper

     Before you start, you need to test your baking powder.  Just throw 1/2tsp into a cup of warm water.  Do this over a sink since if your baking powder is good it will create an explosive reaction to the water and bubble vigorously.  Anything less than Mount Vesuvius and you need to replace it.  In a container whisk together the batter ingredients and place the whiting in making sure it's well coated.  Cover and let sit in the refrigerator 4-6 hours.  In a wide bowl add the breading ingredients and mix well with a whisk.  Heat a heavy bottomed frying pan with oil until the oil is well heated but not smoking.  Dip the marinaded fillets one by one into the breading and shake around to coat well on both sides.  Shake off excess breading before placing in hot oil.  Lower heat and fry about 3 mins each side until golden brown and crispy.  Remove to newspapers to drain.  Serve on a couple slices white bread with a few dashes hot sauce (Crystal, Texas Pete, Franks Red Hot or Louisiana) and tartar sauce in small containers on the side along with whatever side dishes you like.




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