Way back in the day, Paul’s Grandma Nettie started making this recipe for her family. Being a good Catholic, Nettie followed the rule about not eating meat on Fridays. For a farming family with 8 growing children living in a remote landlocked town, fish – which was the Church’s recommended food of choice on Fridays – was a bit of a luxury.
So Nettie came up with an idea: while staying within the letter of the edict of not serving meat on Fridays – and in the “spirit” of serving fish – she came up with a tradition that has since been passed down through several generations of the Koch clan.
Thus were born “Fish Sticks”.
Nettie took her basic bread recipe, but instead of making loaves with the dough, she made sticks. She took her dough, cut it into strips, let it rise, then fried up the strips in oil. She would make a big pot of beans to go along with it. It was economical and filling, and her family loved it.
Every week, Nettie’s kids looked forward to “Fish Stick Friday”. Pretty soon, word got around that the Koch kids were eating pretty good on Fridays, and it got to the point that Nettie was making food for more than just her kids come Friday lunchtime – all of her kids’ friends (and sometimes even some of their friends’ friends) would come by the house for some of Nettie’s fish sticks, too.
Each generation of Kochs has adapted Nettie’s recipe for their own family’s tastes – Paul’s mom’s recipe is different from that of each of his aunts’ and uncles’ families, and most of the grand- and great-grandkids have their own versions, too – but the tradition lives on.
Unfortunately, when we realized that Paul, Rebecca, and I are sensitive to gluten, we had to bid farewell to Fish Sticks – gluten-free dough does not have the same rising properties as regular dough, and I haven’t been able to find any GF mixes/recipes that will allow me to reproduce this recipe.
But I’m still looking…. 😛
2 1/2 c. flour
1 T. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 T. lard/Crisco/oil
1 yeast cake (2 1/4 tsp. powdered yeast)
1/3 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup milk
Warm the milk (can do this in microwave); add sugar.
Dissolve yeast cake in lukewarm water.
Combine flour, salt, milk mixture, yeast mixture, and lard/Crisco in large bowl until well mixed.
Turn out dough onto floured surface and knead until it does not stick to fingers and is pliable (add a little more flour if it’s too wet; a little more milk if it’s too dry).
Roll dough out to 1/4″ thickness; using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut into 1″ – 1 1/2″ wide strips.
Cut each strip into smaller pieces (8″-10″ long); cover with damp cloth if humidity is too low.
Let rise about 1/2 hour or so – stop when dough has risen (don’t leave too long).
Heat oil in shallow pan.
Drop strips into hot oil, “exposed” side first.
Brown on one side, then turn and brown the other side.
Drain on paper towels.
*** This recipe was adapted from a roll recipe in a very old cookbook that still sits in a drawer in Paul’s mother’s kitchen. She may have to specifically leave that cookbook to one of her kids in her will…. 😛