CHEF SAMBRANO Food Articles Video Recipes




Sunday, June 25, 2017


"Hey Ron, my buddy and his ohana is coming to Maui man, please check them out, tell them where to eat and stuff like that ok?"

"Sure Todd, anytime man."

"Doyle is from Texas, I'll text you his number and please connect man."

"Will do Todd, easy bro."

My bro from high school got a hold of me, his buddy and his family was coming to Maui, so I texted Doyle, and we became friends. Our conversation went like this, of course at this point we were actually speaking on the phone.

"Hey Ron, you ever ate Crappies?"

"No Doyle, never had it before."

"Well I tell you what, in a few weeks I'll bring you two pounds frozen, and you come meet me at the resort, take em home and fry them up."

At this point, I had no idea what Crappies were, well it was a fish says Doyle, so ok then, I got some frozen filets of Crappies coming in, cool. So when I finally met Doyle and his wife Mary Sue, I had to give them something. So I went to Foodland and got them a pound of poke. Cubed raw Ahi, a half pound of Spicy Ahi Poke, and a half pound of Hawaiian Style Ahi Poke.

Upon getting to Doyle's condo in South Maui, I was wondering how our first meeting will go. I mean, I really haven't seen a picture of Doyle or his wife, for that matter his family. So here I am in my company delivery van heading up the hill to this condo complex. I finally find his building, now I gotta find his assigned room. As I got out of the van, I noticed a young couple getting into a rental car with a young child. I didn't think nothing of it, I made my way to his home away from home. Ah, there it is... it's in the corner of the building, and here's Doyle smiling.

"Hey you're Ron?"

"Yeah you Doyle?"

"Yes I am, hey you just missed my kids."

"Oh that was them in the car?"

"Yeah they're going for a ride, too bad,  we all could have met all at once."

"No problem, maybe next time."

"Hey come inside, meet my wife."

I enter the room, and here comes Mary Sue, "Hi I'm Mary Sue."

"Ron, nice to meet you."

Well after the pleasantries, we started to get to know each other, it was cool. Spent about 45 minutes there. But Doyle was adamant about the Crappies. He went to the freezer.

"Ron, here you go man, two pounds of Crappies. You thaw them out, salt and pepper them, and dredge them in cornmeal. I use peanut oil, heat it to three hundred fifty, fry them, when it's all golden it's done. No need to overcook them, once it turns golden, flip em."

"Ok, easy, so ah-what else can I use a tartar sauce?"

"Oh yeah, make your own if you want, but tartar sauce goes well with this fish."

So Doyle gave me the insights on frying Crappies. He also told me, where he comes from that's the prize fried fish. Being from Maui, I'm used to salt water game, the Ahi, Onagas, Ulua, Opaka, Ono (wahoo), Mahi, so I didn't really know what the flavor would be like.

So I went home, and in a couple weeks when I had some time, I fried up the Crappies like Doyle said, minus the peanut oil. I used canola instead and it turned out good. My neighbors loved it. Not a strong aroma when frying, though you know it's fish in the pan for sure. It was tasty with the salt and pepper, in fact I doused the salt on a few filets, but it didn't hurt. I guess fresh water fish needs a tad more salt which is fine, and fine black pepper made it balance out. I used Masa Harina, and a store bought tartar sauce. Here's a few pictures.
Crappies done and resting with lemons

A good dousing of tartar sauce with lemons
The prep station, salt and peppered Crappie filets on the 
left, and the masa harina on the right

As Doyle says, "Dredge em in cornmeal"

Very hot canola oil frying the last filets.

So what was my opinion of Crappies? I tell you what, it's very mild, so you can really play with flavors, herbs and spices. But not too much. It's really a good eat, wasn't bad at all. It's a good fish for like kids that want chicken fingers, but the chicken ranch went out of business. Just kidding. Crappies are really a good fry fish like Doyle said, and it was a good treat. Not bad at all. Thanks Doyle!

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