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‘Almond-Milk-Soaked Panfish Fry’: Jack Hennessy’s ‘Braising the Wild’

Jack Hennessy in “Braising the Wild” this week gives a more creative take on panfish with “Almond-Milk-Soaked Panfish Fry.”

Jack Hennessy in “Braising the Wild” gives an innovative “Almond-Milk-Soaked Panfish Fry’’ recipe.
Jack Hennessy

Jack Hennessy happened upon a more creative way to do panfish. (I am tempted to try it with perch, considering the opener is Sunday.) Yes, “Almond-Milk-Soaked Panfish Fry’’ is not your run-of-the-mill recipe, but it is not exotic either. It is made with things easily available.

Here is the “Braising the Wild’’ recipe for this week, part of the expanded two pages of outdoors coverage in the Sports Saturday Sun-Times wrapper.

Almond-Milk-Soaked Panfish Fry

I spent a handful of seasons in the Pacific Northwest chasing steelhead and came to two inevitable conclusions: 1. I’m a terrible fly-fisherman. 2. I’d rather spend a day on the water with my dad landing sunfish after sunfish (maybe the occasional bass).

Admittedly, sunfish, specifically bluegill, grew stale for my brother and me, as trips to Monee Reservoir were our primary fishing outing growing up. It wasn’t until I moved back to the Midwest after grad school, from Spokane, Washington, that I realized how much I truly missed the action only a school worth of panfish can deliver.

On a trip to Canada, a cabin experiment of almond milk and slab crappies laid the foundation for one of our family’s favorite fish recipes. With Father’s Day this weekend, I suspect of a good sum of readers might be slinging a bobber and a worm with the little ones. If you catch some eaters, I’d recommend giving this one a try. It’s incredibly simple and kid-approved.

Ingredients (serves 4):

2 pounds filleted panfish

32 ounces unsweetened almond milk

2 cups peanut oil for frying (more if pan is very large)

1 cup flour

Spice mix:

1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

1-1/2 tablespoons black pepper

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon dry thyme

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon freshly minced garlic

To prepare:

Soak fillets or panfish chunks in almond milk for 1-2 hours.

Heat peanut oil to 350 degrees in a large skillet.

Mix 1 cup of flour with a 1/3 cup of spice mix above.

Dredge fillets or chunks through flour mix.

Fry fish on both sides, until golden brown, then allow to dry on a napkin-covered plate.

Optional: Garnish with sliced almonds and minced chives.

Check me out on Instagram or Facebook as I’ll be sharing a Guinness tartar sauce recipe to pair with this fish fry.