The sweet thing about this post will be how little it actually wound up costing. I honestly had no plans when I went to the store to make it, but when I walked past the fish, it was priced so perfectly that I could not have left it there. I went into the store with intentions on getting something simple and inexpensive to cook and it was ABOUT to involve some chicken and probably potatoes, but then this happened.
Cast of characters…
3 small packages of farm-raised catfish (wild catfish are fucking disgusting bottom feeders) nuggets ($1.33, $1.35 and $1.45, respectively):
½ cup of lemon or lime juice ($1.79 for the bottle):
Call your mom on the way home from the store and raid her cupboard for a few handfuls of Jingos and cheez-it crackers ($0.00):
½ cup vinaigrette of your choosing ($0.00, already in the house):
Seasonings of your choosing ($0.00, already in the house):
(not pictured) 3-5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce and about the same amount of oil (vegetable, olive, canola… whatever you have around)
And now we can prep…
Mix the lemon (or lime) juice with the vinaigrette and a couple dashes each of all of the seasonings, place the fish into the smallest bag that will fit it. Pour the mix into the bag, shake it well then press all of the air out of it and place aside – but come back to it every few minutes or so to turn it over in making sure that the fish stays coated and all that goodness:
Plan about an hour or so at least for as much penetration as possible. Pass the time by placing the crackers into your mini chopper and pulverizing it really thoroughly:
You will still need to add a little cornmeal and some bread crumbs to make sure the mix is enough to coat all of the fish without getting messed up. Add some seasonings to this as well. In addition to the ones above, I added some parsley flakes, a couple of dashes of sage and ground ginger, and a SMALL amount of cayenne pepper:
(naturally, you would mix it all up really good before you use it, like I did after I took this picture)
After an hour or so, shake as much of the marinade off of the fish (use a colander) and coat the pieces with the breading then place them onto a foiled/sprayed cookie sheet. Turn your oven on to 375° while you do this to give the coating time to “set”.
(looks good enough to eat, but these are RAW)
Once the oven is up to temp, go ahead and put it in and leave it in until they have reached the desired color:
I enjoyed mine alongside some frozen fries ($2.49) that I tossed into the oven with a few minutes left to cook these. All told, this meal cost me $8.41 to make, and I didn’t even USE all of the fries in the bag yet. It will be good for two dinners tonight and three lunches tomorrow. Oh, how I love to stretch a buck.
Note: I have NEVER laid claim to making "pretty" food, my claim is to making TASTY food.