By Melissa Worthington

As a Wisconsin native, there is little else more ingrained from toddler on (besides football…) than the Friday night fish fry. My childhood is packed with memories of car rides to a host of establishments that touted the best fry in the area. Back then the restaurants and bars were filled with smoke, the wait for a table seemed interminable (while filling up on crackers and butter pats) and extraordinary amounts of time was spent watching my parents and grandparents talk endlessly with everyone in town who had the exact same plans for the evening while simultaneously enjoying an old fashioned (brandy, not whiskey). When it was finally our turn to eat, our table would be filled with platters of AYCE fried fish, broasted chicken, potatoes of various forms (often German styles), rye bread, slaw and perhaps a lazy Susan relish tray. By the time the car ride home rolled around, we would be stuffed and collectively smelling of a strange mixture of smoke, fryer grease and fish; and while that may seem like an odd combination, I guarantee you that it is the stuff nostalgia is made of for most Wisconsinites. If you are curious about the history and evolution of the Friday night fry, you can read more about here: https://www.midwestliving.com/travel/wisconsin/friday-fish-fry-wisconsin/.

I love fish. Basically anything that spends a good amount of time living in water is at the top of my list for culinary delights. But, while I enjoy a good plate of fried anything as much as the next person, one can quickly understand that it might not be the healthiest option as a weekly pursuit. So, in the spirit of tradition, but also in honor of my waistline, my Friday night fish tradition has taken on a new twist. Fish, as you may know, is a great staple to anyone’s diet. Fish is filled with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins such as D and B2 (riboflavin). Fish is rich in calcium and phosphorus and a great source of minerals, such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times per week as part of a healthy diet (and I imagine they are hoping it is not fried…).

The Firecracker Salmon recipe below has yet to fail to please a crowd. With a little kick (that you can make kid-friendlier by removing the red pepper flakes) and flavor that is out of this world, you may just find yourself starting your own Friday night fish tradition. My family enjoys ours with a kale salad, oven roasted ginger carrots and baby red potatoes and a crunchy peanut and cabbage slaw. Enjoy!

Firecracker Salmon
1 lb. Salmon (any type)
1/2 c. peanut oil
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
4 green onions, sliced
1/4 of a medium red onion, chopped
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. ground ginger
2 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. savory
1 tbsp. ground mustard
1 tbsp. molasses
2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. seasoned pepper
1/2 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients for marinade and whisk together well. Pour over fish, with skin side up but making sure lots of marinade is under fish. Cover and marinate in fridge for 4 to 6 hours. You can grill the fish on the BBQ grill or bake it in the oven at 375 degrees. I have also made, and highly suggest, putting the fish on a cedar plank for additional flavor. This marinade also works great with pork and chicken.