Sunday, 4 November 2012

Salau pane sau snitzel de salau

"Breaded zander fillets"

Salau (sander lucioperca) is a popular fish in Romania and can be found in most fishmongers or market stalls. It has a white meaty flesh and can be used in many of the same recipes as stuica (pike). In fact, its meaty tender flesh makes it a popular fish for stewing and can almost be treated like white meat. The recipe presented here doesn’t need a lot of elaboration and the method is the same for other breaded fish or meat on this website. Sometimes the dish is even referred to as ‘snitzel de salau’ rather than ‘salau pane’, perhaps because it more closely resembles chicken or pork in texture. Either way, it makes a deliciously juicy schnitzel.

Several variations exist on the same theme, one of them involves rolling the fillet in finely grated cascaval (yellow chedder-like cheese) before dredging in the egg and fine breadcrumbs. You can also add various condiments to the breadcrumbs, such as paprika, rosemary or garlic powder.

I always recommend buying a whole fish and removing the fillets yourself. That way you can see exactly how fresh the fish is. I’m always suspicious that the fillets sold in shops are from fish that have started to look a bit too ‘old’ to be sold whole. However, if you are not confident about filleting your own fish you can still choose whole fish (look for ones with clearer eyes that don’t smell fishy) and ask the fishmonger to fillet it for you.

Time: 10 minutes (not including filleting)
Servings: 2 portions of two fillets each (or will serve 4 people if served with a more substantial side dish, like potatoes)

2 fresh zander (or 4 fillets)
1 large egg, beaten
2 heaped tablespoons of flour
½ cup of fine breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Oil for frying
Optional: paprika, garlic powder, rosemary
Optional: finely grated cascaval

1. Heat about a centimetre of oil in a large pan to a medium-high temperature.
2. Wash the fillets and pat them dry with kitchen towel, then dip them in the flour and shake off the excess.
3. Drag the fillet through the egg and allow excess to drip off – make sure it’s fully coated.
4. Drag it through the breadcrumbs and allow excess crumbs to fall off. Once you are satisfied that it’s evenly coated, gently lay it in the hot oil, laying it away from your body so you don’t splash hot oil on yourself.
5. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, turn, and cook the other side for about 2-3 minutes. It should be golden-brown all over. When you cut into the schnitzel, the flesh should be white, hot to the touch, but still juicy. The trick is to get the temperature right – too hot and the outside will burn before the fish is cooked, too cool and the fish will be overcooked by the time the coating crisps up.
6. Serve with salad, chips, sautéed potatoes, and some kind of sauce (tartar sauce works, but ‘mujdei’ (garlic sauce) is also a good choice).

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