Off the Hook
Flavorful and healthful, fish sandwiches can net big profits.
Mark E. Bratton, CEC
Virginia Polytechnic Institute
and State University
"In Virginia, catfish is a Southern favorite as essential as apple pie and barbecue. It’s considered a highly stable menu highlight because of its quality, stable pricing year round and ready availability.
"Today’s farm raised catfish is far different from the scavenger fish I grew up eating. The Catfish Institute sponsored a tour of one of its facilities and I was very impressed with what they were doing, from the hatcheries to the processing plants. It’s certainly not the same old catfish. It’s a very mild flavored, good flake white fish.
"Here at Virginia Tech, we serve catfish in nearly every dining center in a variety of styles/Cajun, fried, pan sauteed and grilled.
"The West End Market, an upscale marketplace concept, serves 5,000 meals a day with a staff of 100 full time and 180 students.
"With the Kréyol Catfish Sandwich, we were looking for something that would present well, be HACCP friendly and simple to produce, and that would be easy to batch out.
"We tested it and the students loved it. They don’t just want fried fish. At other places on campus, we’ll serve it blackened, nut crusted or lemon peppered. But I’m noticing that students are more health-conscious and looking for a grillable alternative."
"We serve between 1,300 and
1,500 customers daily for lunch at
this satellite facility, in addition to catering and breakfast. We offer 12 different food concepts here, including an All-American made- to-order grill, pizza, an exhibition station with made-to-order crepes and pasta. We work to feature a great variety of food which is globally inspired.
"As for our fish, we participate in SeaWatch, making decisions based on their advisories. For example, we aren’t serving Chilean sea bass or swordfish now. I am also interested in farm-raised fisheries that feature good environmental practices.
"We’ve experimented with a frozen trout fillet for sandwiches that is very mild in flavor with a similar flavor profile to chicken. It lends itself well to different ethnic flavors and seasoning applications.
"We also do a pan-fried oyster po’ boy that is just to die for; a blackened catfish and a cornmeal catfish sandwich; and a salmon burger and a niçoise tuna sandwich that are very popular."
"If I introduce something totally new to my customers, I do so by offering tastes, and I find that eight out of 10 who taste will buy the item, unless it’s cost prohibitive."
University Dining Services
Sonoma State University
Rohnert Park, CA
"All the fish sandwiches here are very popular. It has to do I think with the freshness of the product and the perception that it’s a healthful food. I use a California rice oil for deep frying. It’s healthier, flavorful and it has a higher flash point.
"We offer a variety of fish sandwiches; for example, Ahi (a yellowfin tuna), and another one with canned tuna using Dijon mustard as the base, served on a croissant.
"We also serve a fried fish sandwich with a homemade aioli and, when they are seasonal, heirloom tomatoes and baby greens on a sourdough roll, baked in a wood-fired oven."
Sawtooth Trout Rancher Sandwich with Creamy Volcano Barbeque Sauce, Applewood Smoked Cheddar and Spicy Citrus Slaw
Yield: 12 sandwiches
12 each skinless trout fillets
12 each crusty rolls, split and grilled
with garlic butter
1 pound applewood smoked
cheddar cheese, sliced
2 cups Creamy Volcano Barbecue
Sauce (recipe below)
For the barbecue sauce:
2 cups mayonnaise
1Ú3 cup chopped capers
1Ú2 cup hot homemade
For the Spicy Citrus Slaw:
1Ú2 head green cabbage, shredded
1Ú2 head red cabbage, shredded
1 medium jicama, shredded
2 carrots peeled and shredded
3 medium tomatoes, seeded
3 jalapenos seeded and diced
2-3 each chilies de arbol, crushed
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 each red bell pepper, julienne
1 each yellow bell pepper,
For the dressing:
1Ú3 cup lime juice
1Ú2 cup orange juice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3-4 Tbsps. sugar
to taste cumin
to taste salt
to taste pepper
1. Deep fry trout fillets; drain.
2. Melt cheese on top of fillets.
3. For the barbecue sauce: Combine all ingredients and chill for 1 hour.
4. Spread grilled roll with barbecue sauce. Top with fish fillet. Garnish with red leaf lettuce and sliced roma tomatoes.
5. For the Spicy Citrus Slaw: Combine all ingredients and mix with dressing.
Recipe from Sylvia Oliveira, Executive Chef, Bon Appetit, Hewlett Packard, Boise, ID
Kréyol Catfish Sandwich
Yield: 24 sandwiches
6 lbs. U.S. farm-raised
catfish, 12 x 8-oz. fillets
2-3 Tbsps. olive oil
21Ú2 cups peppers, bell,
1 cup shallots, minced
1Ú2 cup eggs, beaten
1Ú2 cup flour, all-purpose
1Ú2 cup mustard, whole-grain
3 Tbsps. Cajun seasoning
1 tsp. salt
24 slices English toasting
bread or brioche
48 slices Roma tomatoes, sliced
11Ú2 qt. lettuce, green leaf,
For the balsamic mayonnaise (21Ú4 cups):
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsps. sugar, granulated
2 cups mayonnaise
1. Chop 5 lbs. of the catfish fillets into small dices. Process or puree 1 lb. catfish fillets until smooth. Place both mixtures in a large bowl over ice; mix
2. In sauté pan, heat oil. Add peppers and shallots and sauté until tender. Remove from heat and cool mixture.
3. Add cooled vegetables to catfish and mix well. Add eggs, flour, mustard and seasonings and continue to mix.
4. Shape fish mixture into 24 5-oz. flattened patties. Place on a parchment-lined sheetpan; cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.
5. Grill catfish patties, on both sides to internal temperature of 165°F. (Hold at 140°F).
6. For the balsamic mayonnaise: In a saucepan combine vinegar and sugar and reduce to 1Ú3 cup. Cool mixture to 40°F. Add balsamic syrup to mayonnaise and mix well. Cover and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
7. To serve: Place patties on a slice of bread; top with 2 slices tomato, 1Ú4 clup shredded lettuce and 2 Tbsps. balsamic mayonnaise. Serve with sour pickles and potato chips.
Recipe from Mark E. Bratton, CEC, Executive Chef
Nicoise Tuna Sandwich
Yield: 1 sandwich
2 oz. red
1 each French
1 leaf loose-leaf lettuce
2 slices tomato
1 slice red onion
1 3-oz. can solid yellowfin tuna with olive oil,
1Ú2 oz. roasted red bell peppers
1Ú2 oz. green beens, steamed and cooled
2 tsps. white wine vinegar
1. Boil or steam red potatoes. Cool and slice.
2. Slice open French roll. Place a lettuce leaf and two tomato slices on bottom half of roll.
3. Top lettuce leaf with sliced potatoes and onion slices separated into rings.
4. Chunk tuna over onion slices.
5. Garnish tuna with roasted pepper and green beans.
6. Sprinkle white wine vinegar over sandwich filling. Serve immediately.
Recipe from Chicken of the Sea International
Seared Fresh Fish Sandwich on Artisan Roll with Basil-Lemon Aioli
Yield: 6 sandwiches
6 4-oz. Ahi or white fish fillets
6 each Focaccia-style rolls
1 oz. spring mix greens
2 each heirloom tomatoes
2 oz. goat cheese
1Ú2 cup aioli, with fresh chopped basil and lemon, to taste
to taste salt
to taste pepper
10 oz. olive oil
1. Season fish with salt and pepper and olive oil.
2. Sear fish on flat grill or in non-stick pan until desired doneness.
3. Cut rolls in half and grill to warm the inside of the bread.
4. Place bottom half of rolls on plates and build the sandwiches.
5. Spread the aioli on the bottom half of roll. Add greens, tomato, goat cheese. Top with the fish and more aioli.
Recipe from Mark Derkhising, Executive Chef, Dining Services, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA