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Fried Speckled Trout with Black-Eyed Pea Salad

Obviously this recipe can be done with any white fish. Other good candidates would be bass, walleye, pike fillets, croaker, black seabass, small codfish or haddock, Pacific rockfish, freshwater sheepshead... you get the point. I wanted the salad to be very Southern, thus the choice of black-eyed peas, turnip and mustard greens and bacon. You can change it up if you feel like it. Want a Nordic flair? Go with Great Northern beans, kale and, well, bacon is a universal...

Course: Main Course

Serves: 4 people


  • 4 to 6 skinless speckled trout fillets

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 cup fine cornmeal, aka "fish fry"

  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning

  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper

  • Peanut oil for frying

  • 1 cup black-eyed peas

  • 2 cups chicken broth

  • 2 cups water

  • 1/4 pound bacon

  • 1 chopped onion

  • 3 chopped garlic cloves

  • 1 or 2 roasted red peppers, canned or freshly roasted, chopped

  • 3 cups chopped turnip or mustard greens

  • Salt, black pepper and cider vinegar to taste

  1. Start by cooking the black-eyed peas. Bring the water and chicken broth to a boil and add the peas. Lower the heat to a very gentle simmer and cook until they are tender, but not falling apart. While this is happening, cook the bacon in a large saute pan. When the bacon is crispy, remove it and chop. Set it aside for now.

  2. Saute the onion in the bacon fat over medium-high heat until the edges brown. Add the garlic and the greens and toss to coat in the bacon fat. Cook until the greens wilt. Turn off the heat, add back the bacon, then mix in the red peppers. Cover the pan and set aside for now.

  3. Pour the milk into a shallow bowl. Mix all the breading ingredients. Pour enough peanut oil into a frying pan to come up about 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Heat the oil to 325°F to 350°F. If you don't have a thermometer, the oil will be ready when a bit of the breading sizzles instantly when flicked into it. When the oil is hot, dredge the fish in the milk, then coat with the breading. Fry until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

  4. To finish, warm the black-eyed pea salad and put some on everyone's plate and top with the fried fish. Serve with beer or an uncomplicated white wine.