As I’m writing this, I’m just polishing off the last of my ling cod from the 2014 catch. I shall not comment as to whether or not there is a single tear running down my cheek.
Damn, that six week season goes by quickly. I miss fishing for them already. Not only are these fearsome looking beasts filled with delicious white meat, but catching them is all kinds of fun.
If you read my earlier ling cod posts, then you know about the slow, methodical way these toothy fish take the bait. They grab hold and hang there, taking a few tentative pulls. They’ll drift along with the boat, holding & testing the bait until they finally decide to turn it around in their mouth and swallow it. I’ve had a couple this season that toyed with the bait for upwards of five minutes before they finally fully took the bait down, and began to run.
Few things in fishing are more exciting than the moment of a big strike: when a salmon or steelhead blows up your rod, a largemouth slams your crank bait, or a tuna grabs your anchovy without slowing down. But those few moments of cat & mouse when a ling cod has your bait but they’re not yet on the hook, that’s fishing foreplay right there.
Sure, they’ll tease you for a little bit, but they do eventually put out. Once you do get that hook-set, you are in for a rod bending, toe curling fight to get your catch into the net.
I don’t know about you, but after a vigorous codding, I’m ready for a cold beer and a sandwich. Fortunately, ling cod make great sandwich filling.
Years ago, when I lived in Key Largo, my friends and I would frequent a fun little bar/restaurant called The Pilot House. They had exquisitely cold beer, and a menu full of the kind of food that went down well when the munchies were upon you. Perhaps their most popular (and certainly my favorite) item was the Harvey’s Fish Sandwich.
Essentially the Harvey’s is a grilled cheese with tomato, fish, and a schmear of tartar sauce. In truth, it’s merely an upgrade of McD’s Filet-o-Fish concept. Of course, superior ingredients and handling make this something much more than a fast food item.
Down there, they use grouper or snapper for their Harvey’s. Hell, those fish are so local to them you can see them see them swimming under your feet in the Pilot House Bar’s glass bottom floor. But any white fish works for a Harvey’s, ling cod included. While the Pilot House pan fries theirs, I like the smoky touch that grilling the fish gives to the sandwich. Just make sure to let the fish rest for 5 minutes after grilling, before putting it on the sandwich. Grilled fish will weep a little liquid right after cooking, and you don’t want it to make your sandwich soggy.
Harvey’s Fish Sandwich
- 2 each white fish filets, cut “slice of bread” size
- salt & pepper, to taste
- 1 Tbs butter
- 4 slices thickly sliced bread As I did with my Crab Grilled Cheese recipe, I used Texas Toast for this.
- 1/4 cup tartar sauce Find my recipe in this post.
- 4 slices of cheese, cheddar is traditional but I used pepper jack.
- 4 thin slices of tomato
- chopped iceberg lettuce, as needed
After grilling your fish filets with a simple salt & pepper seasoning, set them aside to rest while you prepare to build your sandwich.
Heat a griddle or large sauté pan to medium. Butter the slices of bread, and place them butter side down in the pan.
Spread a thin layer of tartar sauce on each slice, then cover with a slice of cheese. Add the tomato to two of the bread slices, and placed the fish on the other two.
Cook until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown. Remove from heat, and add a small handful of lettuce before putting the sandwiches together.
But WAIT! There’s more!
If I’m talking about sandwiches inspired by the Southeast U.S., I’d be remiss to not talk about po’ boys.
Well, I’d certainly be remiss not make some ling cod po’ boys and stuff my face with them.
Before going further, it should be noted that I have a number of friends that were at one time or another, residents of the great city of New Orleans. In consideration of them and any other readers of mine who may hail from The Big Easy, I will point out that this might not be a traditional po’ boy recipe. However, there are two important points I’d like to stress here. 1) This is a damned good sandwich recipe; you really should try it. And 2) the Saints suck.
You’ll need to get your hands on some french loaves for po’ boys. Don’t get the thin, super crusty baguette type though. You want the softer, wider, “french bread” type loaves for this. Trying to eat a fish sandwich that has a hard outer crust, usually means that you end up with a lap full of smashed fish and sandwich fillings. Don’t worry though, while crusty is bad, crispy is good. I’ll get to that later.
Beyond the bread, you’ll need tomato and lettuce. As before, I prefer the crunch you get from iceberg lettuce for this sandwich. You’ll also need some sliced pickles. These make up a significant part of the flavor profile of the sandwich. So use a good quality pickle, like a crisp kosher dill. I used some really great bread & butter pickles a friend gave me. Thanks Erin!
The real key to making this an outstanding sandwich, aside from the fish of course, is remoulade sauce. There are a lot of variations on this sauce, and if you have a style you prefer, knock yourself out. Otherwise, use mine, I think it’s perfect for the sandwich.
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup chili sauce or ketchup
- 1 Tbs mustard … preferably creole mustard
- 1 tsp horseradish
- 2 Tbs chopped capers
- 2 cloves of minced garlic
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 green onion, both white & green parts, minced
- 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp hot sauce
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1 Tbs chopped green olives … *optional*
Combine all the ingredients and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste.
All right, now that you have that done, let’s make a sandwich.
Fish Po’ Boy
Makes 2 sandwiches
- 2 each, 2 1/2 oz pieces of ling cod, snapper, or other white fish
- 1 cup (appprox) oil for frying, my preference is canola
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 fine yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp granulated garlic
- 1 tsp granulated onion
- 2, 10 inch long pieces of french bread, sliced open
- 3 Tbs butter, softened
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 ripe tomato, thinly sliced
- Sliced pickle, as needed
- Chopped iceberg lettuce, as needed
- 1/4 cup remoulade sauce: Recipe above
- Hot sauce … *optional*
Pour 1/2 an inch of oil into a sauté pan and place it over medium-high heat.
Combine the flour, corn meal, peppers, salt, granulated garlic & onion. Thoroughly and evenly coat the fish with the flour mixture.
Once the oil is hot enough, (Test it by dipping a corner of a piece of fish in. It will sizzle immediately when ready.) fry the fish on both sides until crispy and cooked through.
Set the cooked fish on paper towels to drain.
While the fish is cooking, heat a griddle or large sauté pan over medium heat.
Mix together the garlic & butter. Spread 2/3rds of the butter onto the cut sides of the bread. Toast the bread cut side down in the pan until lightly brown. Spread the remaining garlic butter on the outside of the bread, flip it over, and lightly toast that side too.
Ok, assembly time!
You may want to cut this delicious beast in half before starting to eat it.
Oh, and if the french bread size seems a little daunting to you, you can go even further away from tradition, and use Hawaiian sweet rolls instead to make slider sized versions.