Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cheap Fish and the Weekly Specials with Mary Anne

I found a great deal on fish at Kroger’s last week, and since I haven’t talked about fish before, I’ll give a few recipes using it. But first, on to this week’s specials, which are mostly geared to Thanksgiving.

Aldi has Butterball turkeys again for 99 cents a pound, and hams ranging from 99 cents to $1.99 per pound. Sweet potatoes are $1.49 for three pounds, and potatoes are $1.89 for a 10 pound bag. That’s a lot of potatoes for $1.89! Celery is 89 cents a head and onions are 99 cents for 3 pounds. Fresh cranberries are 99 cents for twelve ounces. Candied yams are 99 cents for sixteen ounces, and yams in syrup (not as much sugar) are $1.29 for 29 ounces. Cranberry sauces are 89 cents a can and pumpkin (just plain pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling) is 89 cents a can. French fried onions (like to put on top of a green bean casserole) are $1.99 a can. Six ounces of pecans (about a cup and a half) are $2.99. Stuffing mix is 69 cents a box, instant mashed potatoes are 99 cents a box, and condensed cream of various things soups are 49 cents a can. But I hope you’re not using any of these, but making your own, instead! Cream cheese is 99 cents for eight ounces and butter is $1.69 a pound. These are pretty much all the same as they were last week.

Kroger has their store brand turkeys for 77 cents a pound with $25 in additional purchases. Eggs are 4 for $5.00, or $1.25 a dozen. Sour cream and cottage cheese are both $1.00 for a pint, or 16 ounces. Hams range from $1.29 to $1.99 per pound and chicken drumsticks and thighs are 99 cents a pound. They have most of the same things on sale for 50 cents off if you buy at least ten of selected items, mix-or-match that they did last week. Various cheeses are $2.99 a pound. Frozen veggies are $1.00 each for 10 to 12 ounce bags.

Marsh has seedless red or black grapes for $1.28 a pound. Yum! Norbest and Honeysuckle turkeys are 69 cents a pound and Butterball turkeys are 99 cents a pound, if you buy at least $25.00 of other stuff there. Libby’s canned vegetables are 29 cents a can if you buy at least $30 of other stuff. You can get $10 off a half ham or $20 off a whole ham, but they don’t say how much the hams cost originally. That always makes me nervous, though sometimes they really are good deals.

And now, back to the fish. I accidentally stumbled across a great deal on Swai nuggets at Kroger. It’s 99 cents a pound on sale, and the regular price is $1.39 a pound. I asked if they would be having it on a regular basis and was told that they were just trying it out to see if there was any demand for it. So go demand it! If you can’t find it, ask for it. That is by far the lowest price I’ve seen on fish in a long time. In fact, the next cheapest has been about $2.50 a pound for quite a while, and $4 or $5 is more usual. And up. Way up!

But what is Swai? It's basically catfish that are farmed in the rivers in Vietnam. It can be substituted for several other kinds of fish. HERE'S a list of them. You can use catfish or Swai in any recipe that calls for any of the fish listed, though of course you need to consider the size of the pieces, too. Substituting Swai nuggets for a halibut steak, for example, wouldn’t work, though you could use the same seasonings and adjust the cooking time and method for the smaller pieces.

The traditional way to cook catfish is to roll it in cornmeal and fry it in bacon grease and serve it with hushpuppies or cornbread. It’s delicious that way, but cornmeal is out as far as I’m concerned. CRISPY BAKED CATFISH NUGGETS is a grain-free alternative. It’s probably gluten free, too, but check the ingredients for yourself if you’re sensitive to gluten. I know it shows up in the strangest places.

If you use olive oil and bottled lemon juice, this will cost you about $3.60 for four servings, or about 90 cents per serving. Serve the Crispy Baked Catfish Nuggets with TARTAR SAUCE and COLESLAW. A serving of catfish, plus a fourth of a cup of tartar sauce and a big serving of coleslaw will cost about $1.20. An unbelievably low cost for a fish dinner!

The next recipe is for ITALIAN FISH SOUP, which is kind of like a Manhattan (tomato based) clam chowder, except with fish instead of clams. The original recipe called for fish and scallops, but I always just use fish. It’s a lot cheaper that way, and the one time I did use scallops, I couldn’t tell the difference. This is a full meal in itself and makes four good servings. The total cost, if you use Swai nuggets, is about $4.75, or $1.20 per serving. If you happen to have a bit of extra room in your budget, COLESLAW would go well with it, and would bring it to about $1.45 per person. Some raw veggies and maybe some dip would be good with it, too.

The final recipe is for BROILED CATFISH WITH MUSTARD. You can use pretty much any kind of fish for this, but it’s especially good with catfish or Swai. And it’s really easy, too, which is another big bonus! There is basically no cost to this except for the fish, if you use the onion and bottled lemon juice alternatives. The whole recipe costs just a few cents over $2.35, or about 60 cents per serving. COLESLAW would go well with this (I think coleslaw goes well with just about all fish, except maybe salmon.) and would bring the cost to about 85 cents per serving. Add a couple of cans of green beans (half a can per person) and that brings it to $1.10 per person. Everything else is so cheap that you might as well splurge and get a real lemon or two. They generally run about 50 cents each. 

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