Despite gloomy, chilly weather, diners have been coming out on Friday evenings during Lent to enjoy a great meal and support a cause.
Guests have come from as far as Marietta and Waleska to St. Clement’s Episcopal Church on Ridge Road in Canton to enjoy a plate of fried fish, baked beans, coleslaw, hushpuppies and dessert. A macaroni and cheese plate is available for those who prefer a vegetarian option.
Week after week, the numbers keep growing. The Fish Fry Team at St. Clement’s has served more than 500 meals in the first four Fridays of Lent.
Since the parishioners donate all of the food and supplies, 100 percent of the proceeds go to the St. Clement’s Outreach Ministry budget.
“When we decided to start having these fish fries four years ago, I never imagined it would turn into this,” said Emily Mikkelsen, chairman of the Fish Fry Committee. “We are on track to make over $4,500 this year, an 18 percent increase over last year.”
The largest of the St. Clement’s Outreach Ministry’s efforts is a phone ministry to serve local people in need. Last year the volunteers on the phone line fielded approximately 1,800 calls for assistance.
In addition to locating donations of items like cribs and beds, or an overnight place to stay, the phone ministry disbursed $13,060.91 last year to assist callers with immediate financial needs. Other recipients of funds from the Ministry include local organizations such as the Bethesda Medical Clinic, Habitat for Humanity and the Cherokee Family Violence Center.
The last fish fry is Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. through March 22. Adult plates are $6, veggie plates are $5 and children 10 and younger eat for $3.
For more information, visit www.stclementscanton.org
When looking for a good fried fish recipe, the Fish Fry Committee went to Emeril Lagasse’s recipes on Food Network. This is his “Nashville Fried Catfish with Fried Pickles” recipe, dated 2002.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup white cornmeal
2 tablespoons Essence, plus more for seasoning, recipe follows
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
6 (6 to 8-ounce) catfish fillets
2 cups vegetable oil
Combine the flour and 1 tablespoon of Essence in a shallow dish. In a second dish, combine the 2 cornmeals with the remaining Essence. In a third dish or bowl, beat the eggs with the milk and salt. Dredge the catfish 1 at a time first in the flour, then the egg wash, then the cornmeal, shaking to remove any excess. Heat about 1 cup of the oil in a large, deep cast-iron skillet. Fry the fish in batches and cook until golden brown on 1 side, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook until golden on the second side and completely cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. Season lightly with Essence. Add additional oil as needed and cook the remaining fish.
*Essence (Emeril’s Creole Seasoning):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.
Yield: about 2/3 cup
*Recipe from “New Orleans Cooking”, by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.