Five Great Healthy Entrees to Make with the East Texas Fish You Just Caught
…and paired with select East Texas Wines and Beers
You’ve spent a successful day fishing on your favorite East Texas lake. You and the whole family have enjoyed a day of sun and fun and peace on the water. You’ve expended a lot of energy choosing just the right bait or lure, casting your line into the water, and catching a number of really nice-sized (legal), fresh fish. What’s left to do, except turn those beautiful catfish, largemouth bass, striped bass and/or crappie into the centerpiece of a wonderful, healthy meal the whole family can enjoy?
Of course, getting to the point of cooking up your catch requires that you do a few things to make sure your fresh-caught meal is as delicious as you imagine. For example, you have to keep the fish fresh after it’s caught. You can keep your fish on a stringer in the water for a while, but you then have place it in a cooler of ice water and leave it there until it’s time to prepare.
You should also clean the fish right after removing it from the cooler. Do one fish at a time, and use a scaling tool, a dull knife or even a spoon to remove the scales, using a motion from tail to head. Then rinse the fish to get the last of the scales off. Some fish, like catfish, do not have scales, but they have a thick skin that some people prefer to remove before cooking. To do that, hold the fish by the head and make a long cut along the pectoral or belly fins. Then, grab the skin with one hand and strip it off. Only then do you cut the head off and then decide whether you want to fillet it. Once you have properly cleaned the fish, the time has come to fulfill your mission for the day. After all, you didn’t catch all those fish just to throw them in the freezer and wait for another day to feast. Treat yourself and cook a great, healthy meal for yourself and the family.
There is simply nothing better than the first sumptuous bite of fresh fish, especially when you know you’re the one who caught it. Fresh caught fish tastes so much better than the fish in your grocer’s freezer, and all fish is among the healthiest foods you and your family can eat. Well, we have some great recipes for fresh fish your whole family will love. Check these out and you’ll be dining like royalty the night of your big catch.
Cedar Creek Lake Cajun Catfish with Collard Greens
This recipe for your fresh caught catfish is so healthy, it has even been endorsed by the American Heart Association. It is a great tasting recipe from the Deep South that includes two southern cooking classics. This recipe makes four healthy servings of just 218 calories each, with only 1.5 g per serving of saturated fat and 235 mg of sodium per serving.
Start with the ingredients for the Baked Cajun Catfish:
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (adjusted to taste)
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp thyme
4 filleted catfish
non-stick cooking spray
Then get together the ingredients for the Collard Greens:
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 small onion (thinly sliced)
1 tsp jarred, minced garlic
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (add more if you like spicier food)
1 Bunch collard greens
2 Tbsp water
1 fully cooked (in the microwave) and diced slice Canadian bacon
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
To cook the Baked Cajun Catfish, start by combining the oil, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper and thyme into a shallow bowl and prepare a 9X13 baking dish with the non-stick cooking spray. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Then, coat the fish fillets with the seasoning mixture and place them in the baking dish, If there is any mixture left, pour it over the fish. Then, bake the fish or 15 minutes, until the fish is flaky.
To cook the collard greens, prepare them by washing them in water thoroughly and blotting them lightly with a paper towel. Next, you should remove the stems from the larger leaves by stripping the leaf from either side of the stem. It is perfectly okay to leave the stems on the tender inner leaves. Stack eight leaves together and roll them, then slice the rolls into one-inch sections. Heat the oil in a large skillet and add in the onions and cook them until they are translucent, which should take about three minutes, stirring occasionally. After three minutes, add the garlic and cook for about another 30-40 seconds before adding the red pepper, sugar, vinegar, Canadian bacon and, of course, the collard greens. Cover the mixture and cook until the greens are tender, which should take about 20 minutes.
When these are fully cooked, put them together and enjoy the meal you helped create during your Cedar Creek Lake fishing trip; known for their great catfish. In fact, to make your dinner really special, consider stopping by the Cedar Creek Brewery in Seven Points, Texas to pick up some craft beer to go for your catfish and collard greens meal. We suggest you try their award-winning Patio Pounder Pale Lager which goes great with just about any seafood dish. And, if you have time to stay awhile, the Cedar Creek Brewery also maintains a family-friendly atmosphere, with board games, horseshoes and corn hole boards available to entertain everyone.
Lake Athens Baked Herb Catfish
This is a great way to make the best use of the catfish you caught on your day out on Lake Athens. It is a great alternative to fried and battered catfish, with all the flavor you love with less of the calories and fat. This baked catfish dish makes 4 servings.
First, you’ll need to make sure you have the ingredients:
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp melted reduced-fat butter or margarine
1 clove minced garlic
4 (6 ounce) catfish fillets
To cook, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees while you prepare everything. Combine the parsley, salt, paprika, thyme, oregano, basil and black pepper in a small bowl, then sprinkle the mixture over the catfish fillets and place them in a greased 13- x 9-in. baking dish. Then, combine the lemon juice, butter and garlic and drizzle that over the fillets. When the oven is heated properly, bake the fish for 15-20 minutes or until it flakes easily with a fork.
Of course, when you’re making a nice meal of the catfish you just caught that morning, you’ll want to add a great side dish. One of the best sides to add to baked herb catfish are, of course, potatoes. There is a reason we all love fish and chips, but potatoes go with fish, regardless of the preparation. Whether you bake them, fry them, sauté them or mash them, they go great with catfish. One of our favorite ways to prepare potatoes to serve with catfish is to sprinkle them with rosemary and roast them. They are full of carbs, and they are very healthy and they’re very hearty.
Heading west on your way home from Lake Athens with your mess of catfish? Consider visiting the Tara Vineyard & Winery about 10 miles outside of Athens, Texas. Tara is the oldest winery in Henderson County, and is family owned and operated by the Pierces. Whether you just want to stop in for a tasting, or you’d like a tour, they will help you find just the right wine to go with your Herb Baked Catfish. We recommend trying their award winning, Blanc du Blois Dry; an estate grown, dry Texas white wine that goes pairs well with your Lake Athens fresh fish.
Lake Cypress Springs Pan-Fried Largemouth Bass with Lemon Garlic Herb Butter Sauce
If you spent all day on Lake Cypress Springs (or several other East Texas lakes), you could very well come away with some spectacular largemouth bass, which is abundant on Lake Fork and other East Texas lakes. And of course, you might want to use them to create a great meal for yourself and the family. It’s always fun to experiment with different seasonings and tastes, but it’s also nice to have a recipe that has been tried and tested and tastes great. Here is a very healthy recipe that will make good use of your fresh-caught largemouth bass. This one serves four.
First, you’ll need the ingredients
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup of flour
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp garlic, sliced thin
1/4 cup of mild fresh herbs, like basil, parsley, chervil, oregano, or a combination
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 largemouth bass fillets, skin removed
First, you’ll want to season the bass fillets with salt and pepper. Heat a sauté pan on the grill. When it is sufficiently hot, season the fillets with salt and pepper. Heat a sauté pan on top of the grill. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil and heat. Dredge the bass fillets in the flour and shake off any excess, then place the fish in the pan and fry until golden brown, which should be 3 minutes per side. Remove the fish from the pan, then add butter to the pan and melt. When the butter is melted, add the sliced garlic and fry until it just begins to turn to a light golden brown. Then, add the herbs and remove from the heat and carefully add the lemon juice. To serve, place a fillet on a plate and spoon some of the lemon garlic herb butter over the fish.
Of course, a healthy meal should include more than just delicious fish, so you’ll want to consider a great side dish. Among the best sides to go with largemouth bass is a great Caesar salad. This one was popularized by none other than Wolfgang Puck, it requires no cooking and it goes very well with bass. First, you’ll need the ingredients:
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 anchovies, mashed
Scant 1 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large head romaine lettuce, cleaned and cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups croutons
In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, Worcestershire, pepper flakes, mustard, and anchovies, then slowly add in the oils to emulsify and use the salt and pepper to season to taste. Place the lettuce in a large bowl, then sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and black pepper. Drizzle with desired amount of your favorite dressing and toss well, then top with croutons.
Another great way to celebrate your fresh fish catch from the lake is to pair a Kiepersol Sauvignon Blanc, dry white Texas wine with your meal. Kieperson Vineyards, is located in Bullard, just outside Tyler, Texas. They feature some of the best wines not only in East Texas, but in the nation. For this Largemouth bass dish, we’re going with their 2017 Sauvignon Blanc. Here’s what they say about this wine pairing: “This wine combines an exhilarating nose of dried mango slices, nutbread and lively minerality leading you to a warmer climate heady with fresh herb, key lime and lemongrass flavors.” We agree and think you can’t go wrong with this selection for your largemouth bass entre!
In addition to the winery, Kiepersol also features a distillery and a great restaurant, if you want to hold off on coming until tomorrow night.
Richland Chambers Reservoir Baked Striped Bass with Herbs
After a successful day on Richland Chambers Reservoir, where you hit a large family of striped bass and catch a few, you’ll probably be getting hungry soon so here’s a great healthy Striped bass entrée. Bass flavor is always enhanced with fresh herbs, so here’s a health-conscious recipe the whole family will love. This one comes in at just under 200 calories, and it is high in protein and carbs, while being low in fat.
First, you’ll need the ingredients:
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
1 fresh lemon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 (6 ounce) striped bass fillets
Start by pre-heating the oven to 425 degrees, then coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place fish on pan. Grate I tbsp of lemon rind and squeeze 1 tbsp of juice from the lemon. Combine the rind and the juice with the oil, thyme, oregano, salt and black pepper and drizzle the mixture over fish. Then, bake the fish for 13 minutes or until desired degree of doneness.
To make this an all-around healthy meal, of course, consider adding some steamed vegetables, which are a must-have with fresh fish you just caught that morning. Steamed veggies are easy to make; just pick them up at the produce department and steaming them in a small amount of water, whether from a small pot on your stove, or from a steamer. You might even consider drizzling some of the herb mixture you used on the fish with your fresh veggies, for some extra flavor.
If, after your long day of boating or kayak fishing on the water and your heading west across the state, consider stopping by the Salado Lone Star winery in Salado, Texas, just north of Austin. We suggest their latest estate grown, 2017 Night Flight Chard0nnay. This un-oaked white wine is a very tart, dry selection that we think will pair well with your Richland Chambers Stripped Bass!
Sam Rayburn Baked Crappie with Cheesy Butter
You have spent the day on the water, pulling as many crappie as you can out of Lake Sam Rayburn, and you just have a hankering to eat some of those fish you caught. There are so many great recipes out there for the fish you can buy in the store, but what is the best way to cook fresh-caught fish and make a meal of it? That’s the question of the ages, isn’t it? Well, here is an excellent recipe for your fresh-caught Lake Sam Rayburn crappie that is not only tasty and flavorful, but which is also ultimately very healthy for you and your family. This recipe serves four and will make your taste buds happy.
As always, you’ll need the ingredients:
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup butter, light butter or margarine, melted
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups crushed cheese-flavored crackers
Fresh parsley sprigs (optional)
4 (1/2-pound) pan-dressed crappie
The first step is to rinse your crappie thoroughly in cold water and pat dry sale and pepper the fish to taste. Combine the melted butter with the lemon juice, then dip the fish in the lemon butter mixture and roll in the crushed crackers. Place the fish onto an aluminum foil-lined shallow baking pan and bake uncovered, at 400° for 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. T prevent over-browning, tails can be wrapped in aluminum foil. Then, place the fish onto a serving platter and garnish with parsley, if desired.
When cooking a tasty fish like crappie, there is no doubt the fish makes the meal, but even the best fish needs a great companion side dish, and one of the healthiest and best tasting side dish is brown rice. Brown rice adds a considerable amount of fiber to your diet, which is perfect for those who are trying to slim down or those who are trying to bulk up the muscle. You can also add anything to it, like the lemon butter you added to your fish, and it will take on that flavor, making the whole meal perfect.
Of course, no meal is perfect without something special to add to it. If you’re heading north west toward Tyler, Texas after a day on Sam Rayburn stop by the ETX Brewing Co. near downtown, Tyler, Texas. This family-owned microbrewery produces some of the most amazing craft beers anywhere. In fact, they claim it’s their mission to make the most exceptional craft beer in East Texas or anywhere in the US. For your Sam Rayburn fresh caught and freshly-cooked crappie, we recommend trying their Hitching Post, American Amber Ale. ETX says of their ale, “It’s a medium body, easy drinking Amber Ale. Perfect balance of malt and hops producing caramel notes and a malty sweetness.”
Well that’s it for our Five Great Entrees with East Texas Fish, Wine and Beer. We’re hoping you found the article helpful and would love to hear back from you about your results and perhaps other East Texas lake fish recipes.