Fried Pickerel with Essence of Basil and Balsamic

When cleaned and deboned properly, pickerel makes for a delicious dinner

Ingredients:


  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 4 (6-ounce) pickerel fillets
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
  • ½ teaspoons pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Directions:

In small saucepan, bring balsamic vinegar and sugar to boil, stirring. Reduce heat and simmer until syrupy, about 10 minutes. Scrape into small bowl and set aside to let cool. (Make-ahead: Cover and store in cool place for up to 2 weeks.)

Meanwhile, heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat to 375 degrees. Set aside half of the basil leaves; cook remaining basil in 2 batches until crisp, 5 to 6 seconds. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate; set aside. Let oil cool.

Strain oil, reserving 2 tablespoons to cook pickerel. Pour remaining oil into food processor; add remaining basil and pulse until finely chopped. Strain oil through fine sieve; pour into small plastic squeeze bottle. (Make-ahead: refrigerate for up to 1 week.)


In pie plate, whisk together flour, lemon rind, salt and pepper. With paper towel, pat fillets dry; dredge in flour mixture to coat well on both sides, shaking off excess. Set aside in single layer on waxed paper-lined baking sheet.

Place nonstick skillet over medium heat; brush with reserved basil oil. Cook pickerel, in batches and brushing with more oil as necessary, until golden and flakes easily when tested with fork, 3 to 5 minutes per side.

Divide fish among 4 warmed plates. Top each with pile of fried basil leaves. Drizzle basil oil around fillet. Using fork, dot oil with balsamic syrup.


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