As my summer winds down here on Put-In-Bay Ohio, I’m starting to think of the things I will miss the most when I return home to Marco Island; the absolutely incredible sunrises off the bay; the spectacular “Perry’s Monument” that towers over the island; the crisp northern air each night blowing through my bedroom window. Although I’ll miss all of these I believe that I will miss the fresh Lake Erie perch that I have had the pleasure of cooking each and every day. If you have never had Lake Erie perch then you are unfortunately missing a real lake treasure. Tender butterflies of this delicious fish can be prepared in numerous ways (over the past four months I have tried many recipes) but I have found that the most delightful way possible is “Francese” style.
“Francese” (simply meaning French) is an Italian/French collaboration of sorts. Like many classical recipes it is hard to define its exact origin but some believe that back in the early 1930’s, the World’s Fair in New York had a French restaurant called “The Pavilion.” Francese style items on their menu were very popular and it has been said that when popular local Italian restaurants began to see an increase in demands for more French style cuisine (lighter, whiter and more elegant) Francese fit the bill. I realize that fresh Lake Erie perch on Marco Island is tough to obtain but the following recipe will bear well with chicken, veal, grouper, snapper, etc. The technique is what counts.
• Flour (seasoned with salt and white pepper.)
• 2 beaten eggs.
• 4 tablespoons virgin olive oil.
• 4 tablespoons whole salted butter.
• 1 teaspoon chopped parsley.
• 1 cup clam juice or fish stock.
• 1/4 cup chardonnay.
• Salt and cracked pepper to taste.
• 3 slices of fresh lemon.
• In pan add olive oil and bring to a hot state.
• Lightly flour Lake Erie perch, dip into egg mixture and lay face down into the olive oil.
• Lightly brown fillets and turn them over, strain out the olive oil and add chardonnay, fish stock, whole butter and lemon slices.
• Place pan in preheated oven (350 degrees) and cook for about 5 minutes or until cooked thoroughly.
After removing from oven, sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve over your favorite pasta or risotto or rice pilaf. Pour pan drippings generously over the fish fo an absolutely amazing flavor.
I’m sure that many of you have tried this wonderful dish, and for those of you who haven’t, don’t delay!
I’m looking forward to returning home and preparing many excellent dishes for all to enjoy. Thanks for reading! See you soon.
Chef Bob Aylwin is the former dining room chef for the Ritz Carlton Hotel Chains in Boston, Massachusetts, Naples, Florida and San Francisco, California. He won the title of Collier County Ice Carving Champion in 1992 and 1993. He is the Owner/Operator of “The Teapot Cafe and Catering Company” 695 Bald Eagle Drive, Marco Island.