Eating fish on Fridays is a great occasion to discuss the idea of abstinence with your children. Why not eat meat? How does abstaining from chicken or pork or beef unite us to Christ in His suffering? The children get the idea of solidarity, after all, they have come to expect it of each other: “Mom, since I gave up sweets this Lent, shouldn’t everyone give up sweets?! It hardly seems fair that I should have to do this alone!” moans my nine-year-old son. It’s not hard to understand why we should not eat meat when Jesus ate nothing at all! I explain that fasting is a kind of physical form of prayer. When we pray, we pray with our hearts and minds and souls and our bodies participate some, especially if we are kneeling. However, we allow our bodies to participate more fully when we fast or when we give up something we love to eat
Fish Fry Fridays are also a perfect time to tell stories about early Christians and the symbolism of the fish. The idea that early Christians used to identify each other by drawing a fish in the sand is fascinating. Kids love the accounts of the early martyrs, the catacombs, and the evil Roman emperors. Disney, eat your heart out!
2 lbs. tilapia or some other flaky white fish
2 cups of flour
3 cups of panko
1 cup vegetable oil or olive oil
Prepare three bowls: one, with the flour, salt and pepper; another with the eggs, whipped together; and the last, with the panko. Cut the fish into about three inch long pieces. Dredge them in the flour, salt, and pepper. Place the floured fish into the eggs, and then cover them with the panko. Put onto a clean plate. Meanwhile, pour the oil into a frying pan. Make sure that the oil fully coats the bottom of the pan and is about 2 cm. deep . When hot, place the first pieces of panko fish in the pan and turn down the fire under the skillet. Do not overcrowd. When they are browned on both sides, take out and do the next batch. Be careful that the pan does not become overhot or the fish will burn and make sure that there is always about a 2 cm. layer of oil. Continue until all pieces are cooked.
For the children, I often just give them some fish with ketchup and jasmine rice. For the grown-ups, however, I usually toast some tortillas and serve the fish with some shredded cabbage and spicy thai sauce (good one at Trader Joe’s) or with a salsa like the one listed below:
fresh lime juice
½ cup yogurt
1 habenero chili (use a milder one if you wish)
½ teaspoon - crushed oregano
½ teaspoon - ground cumin
½ teaspoon - dried, crushed dill
½ teaspoon - cayenne chile
ground white pepper to taste