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Grim's Grub: Lenten season means it's Friday fish time

It's that time of year again. Lent is here and with it, meat-free meals abound.

My family has always tried to make Lenten eating a challenge. I believe I've mentioned the trophy we have for the last family member to mess up and eat meat on a Friday. The real challenge comes from my family's forgetfulness, which is pretty much hereditary. Usually one of us is two or three bites into some jerky or bacon before we realize what day it is. By then we have lost the game.

I was always pretty grateful when Pine River-Backus High School and Bemidji State University had fish or some other Lent-friendly foods on Fridays. Sometimes someone in the room would mumble about church and state, but I was grateful.

In elementary and high school I think grilled cheese or cheese pizza were usually present. At BSU I was introduced to what was likely the first baked fish I really enjoyed.

It was in a long and narrow ramekin, a single fillet of perfectly white fish speckled with pepper on top of a thin layer of yellow, what I presumed was butter. The fish was flaky and ever so lemony.

I love fried fish, but I must say this would be a very healthy, delicious way to eat fish, and if you divide the recipe, you could easily adapt it for just one person. It makes less of a mess as well.

In the midst of the cold winter season, it is also nice to have a steamy, starchy meal available when needed. There is hardly a better recipe that meets both those demands than stir fry.

Baked Fish in Lemon Butter

Adapted from

  • 2 4- to 5-ounce fish fillets rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Zest from ½ lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
  • Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
  • Fresh chopped parsley

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Spray an appropriately sized ramekin or Corningware with nonstick spray.

Stir together butter, lemon juice, zest and garlic.

Place fish into your ramekin and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Evenly drizzle butter over the fillets and then bake 10-11 minutes before broiling on high for three to four minutes. The fish is ready when it flakes easily.

Sprinkle lightly with freshly chopped parsley if desired and then serve.

Shrimp Stir Fry

Adapted from

  • ¾ pounds raw, peeled, large shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 ½ cups snap peas, trimmed
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into strips ½-inch wide
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 small onion, cut into strips ½ inch wide

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 ½ cup water

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ¾ teaspoon chili garlic sauce (optional)

Bring your water to a boil and stir in the rice. Return to a boil over medium high heat then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 16-18 minutes. Do not lift the lid until you start seeing "craters" or air holes in the rice. Remove the pan from heat and allow to steam, covered, 10 minutes.

Combine soy sauce and cornstarch in a bowl then follow with water, honey, oyster sauce, sesame oil and garlic sauce.

Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large, nonstick skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring until it is just barely cooked through. Remove to a plate. Add the onion and green peppers and while stirring constantly, add garlic and snap peas approximately one minute later. Cook the vegetables until they are barely softened, then add shrimp, ginger and sauce to the vegetables, stir thoroughly to coat and then remove from the heat. Serve over rice.