Here’s a doable weeknight supper that leaves lots of time for an after dinner binge on something Netflix. We did a version of this in my afternoon classes at the PC Cooking Schools last week. I haven’t had perch since my fishing days a long long time ago. A popular fish, always the first one on the hook and the first one released. The odd time, we did eat them, but so small. We were big hungry guys then, we’ve just gotten bigger.

It brought back some wonderful memories and recollections of taste. Mind you, back then, it was mostly just salt and pepper, and maybe some spicy masala – but boy was it good. Pan fried, fresh off the hook. Now you can get fresh or frozen fillets. We’ve come a long way in freezing so don’t shy away from frozen fish. I used to be a snob and would only ever eat fresh fish – not a big consumer of fish, but when I did, it had to be fresh.

The PC Cooking School recipes – and it’s been almost 3 years since I started with them, tend to use frozen fish and it took me a while to get used to it. But used to it I am and in today’s recipe, I’m using PC Frozen Yellow Perch Fillets (a package contains 8-9 perch fillets). So go get some frozen or fresh, and enjoy this complete meal. I’m using two different spice mixes peri peri and za’atar. They are dry mixes so for this kind of application, I like to soak it in olive oil for about 30 minutes before marinating my fish/meat/veggies in it. The spices soften up in the olive oil. You can also microwave this mixture in a couple of 15 second bursts to heat the oil and let the spices release their flavors. This entire meal will take you about 1 hour to get ready so it can be a great weeknight meal. Serves 2 – 4

If it helps you can do the following the night before:
• Cut up the cauliflower, keep covered in the fridge
• Wash and dry the sweet potatoes, rub in olive oil, salt and pepper – wrap in foil
• Cut up the fennel bulb, cover and keep in the fridge
• Remove the perch fillets from the freezer and leave in a dish in the fridge to defrost overnight

1 fennel bulb, cut in half then sliced about 1/4” thick
1 head cauliflower, cut into pieces (bigger florets)
2 tsp za’atar spice mix
2 tsp peri peri spice mix
1 box PC frozen Yellow Perch Fillets, thawed in the fridge overnight or place the sealed plastic package in a bowl of cold water for about 30 minutes on the counter, remove the fillets when thawed and dry with paper towels; yes you can also use any fresh fish you like
2 -4 sweet potatoes, washed, dried and rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper
1 whole wheat baguette or 2 -4 small ciabatta buns, sliced, toasted and rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper – toasted at 400f oven for 2-4 minutes – you are aiming for a crusty outside but soft and chewy interior – or, put it in the oven after your potatoes and cauliflower are done and the oven is off – again about 5-7 minutes or so
½ cup olive oil – divided into ¼ cup measures
2 tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar

Turn the oven to 400f
Into ¼ cup of olive oil, mix the za’atar spice mix – stir and let sit for 30 minutes – or microwave as described above
To the other ¼ cup, add the peri peri – stir and let sit for 30 minutes – or microwave as described above
Put the prepared sweet potatoes onto a piece of foil and wrap tightly, place on a rimmed baking tray in the oven – about 35 – 40 minutes – depending on the size of the sweet potatoes
In the meantime, rub the cauliflower florets in the za’atar spice mixed olive oil – rub all over – rather than pour the mixture over the cauliflower, I put a little of the mixture on my hands and rub the florets individually – just something I do. Cauliflower is so porous it just absorbs everything
Put on a parchment lined rimmed baking tray and put in the oven – about 30 – 40 minutes
Add the fish to the peri peri olive oil mixture – let it sit for 20 minutes on the counter
In the meantime, grab a glass of wine and ask the kids/spouse/family pet how they are doing (not necessarily in that order)
Okay, get back to work, put the glass of wine down – toss the cut up fennel into a glass bowl
Season with salt, pepper, olive oil and seasoned rice vinegar (or some other favorite vinegar) – set aside
Check on the cauliflower, it should be moderately charred and cooked almost all the way through – remove from the oven
Check on the potatoes – about another 5 minutes or so – poke a sharp knife through the potato, it should go through easily
Toss the cauliflower with the fennel – season with additional olive oil, salt and pepper – taste, re-season and taste again – vinegar, lemon juice, za’atar – add as needed – set aside
Heat a non-stick heavy bottomed frying pan on medium-high; add a tbsp. of olive oil to the pan
When hot, add the perch fillets – one at a time, it will take about 1 minute or less per side and please don’t overcrowd the pan – you want the fish to sizzle and fry, not stew
Serve the fish fillets with the sweet potato – lightly mashed and seasoned with salt/pepper, cauliflower and fennel salad, and toasted chewy bread – and don’t forget the beverage – a nice Ontario Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling, maybe even a Pinot Noir
Heck, make it a TV dinner and eat in the TV room!
Now what were we watching – Breaking Bad, Making a Murderer, House of Cards – hey different strokes for different folks!
As always – enjoy!


Perch Filets1

Perch Filets2