RECIPES CRAPPIE By: Lynn Burkhead, WorldFishingNetwork.com 4 Red-Hot Recipes for Cold-Weather Crappie When cold-weather crappie season is in full swing, there are a number of recipe ideas to help you enjoy those hard-earned slab fillets As Bassmaster Elite Series pro Casey Scanlon (left) and many other anglers know, the winter months are a great time to load up on cold-weather crappie. There are a number of great ways to enjoy them on the dinner table. (Photo courtesy of Casey Scanlon) Here are a few recipes to help you turn a limit of cold-weather crappie into a red-hot dining experience. Kevin VanDam's Fried Crappie Want to enjoy a great meal of fried crappie? Then use Kevin VanDam's favorite mix, a light fish fry batter made in Michigan. (Photo courtesy of Kevin VanDam) Kevin VanDam, also known as KVD, is the undisputed king of bass fishing, the so-called GOAT, or greatest of all-time to ever pick up a rod-and-reel. But you probably already know that unless you've somehow been hiding under a rock for the past 20-plus years because in that span, KVD has won four Bassmaster Classics, seven BASS Angler-of-the-Year titles, an FLW Tour AOY title, two Major League Fishing Cups, 23 BASS tournament titles and more than $6 million in career earnings. But when he's not fishing for bass, VanDam loves to fish for other species, including crappie near his Kalamazoo, Mich., home. And over the years, he's become fond of frying them up, KVD style. What's his recipe? It's pretty simple, really, one that even a weekend warrior like yours truly can whip up after a day of crappie fishing. "I just fry them in a Cajun-style fish fryer with Riceland fish fry oil," said VanDam. "And I batter the filets up in a local-made batter called Skeeters." What's different about KVD's favorite batter mix versus the many others that are out there? Well, it's quite a bit lighter than many others are, something that the originator of the batter mix – former Michigan tournament angler Skeeter Warner – set out to do a number of years ago. Is it good? If KVD says that it is good, well, you be the judge. By the way, if your local grocery or outdoor store doesn't carry KVD's favorite fish batter, you can check into it right here: http://www.skeetersbatteritup.com. Chad LaChance's Coconut Fried Crappie For a hot meal with a tropical twist on a cold winter's night, give the Fishful Thinker's Coconut Fried Crappie recipe a try. (Photo courtesy of Chad LaChance) Chad LaChance, host of WFN's popular show Fishful Thinker, might live in Colorado, but that doesn't mean that he's unfamiliar with the art of catching crappie. After all, he grew up in Florida and has fished in virtually every other corner of the country since as he continues his lifelong quest to learn more about fish and how to catch them. He's quite handy in the kitchen as he preps dishes for the Camp Chef Somerset IV outdoor stove that graces his back deck in the foothills of the Centennial State. So when I asked if he had a crappie recipe, LaChance said "You bet! It was originally done with bluegills on a show we did called Panfish Party, but it will certainly work for crappie too." Here's the tasty recipe; one that will give you a tropical twist on a cold winter's day, straight from the Fishful Thinker (www.fishfulthinker.com) himself: Ingredients: Crappie filets Corn starch Eggs Coconut flour Flaked coconut Panko Salt Cayenne pepper Choice of cooking oil Pina Colada Dipping Sauce Ingredients: ½ cup of sour cream ¼ cup of flaked coconut ¼ cup of Pina Colada mix Prep and Cooking Instructions: Filet the crappie and cut them into same size pieces. Coat the pieces in corn starch, then dip in egg wash. Immediately roll the pieces in a mix of coconut flour, flaked coconut and Panko. For that mixture, try to use 1/3 each, or equal portions of each ingredient, plus add just a touch of salt and cayenne pepper. Once pieces are breaded, you're ready to fry the crappie in 375-degree-F oil until they are browned, which should take about 2 minutes. For the Pina Colada dipping sauce, mix of ½-cup of sour cream, ¼-cup of flaked coconut and ¼-cup of Pina Colada mix. Mix it all together, let it chill before you fry up the crappie and then enjoy. This is a super tasty recipe! The Pond Boss' Crappie Ceviche Whitesboro, Texas, resident Bob Lusk has carved out a nice career over the years that has positioned him as one of the nation's premiere private-water fisheries biologists. In his travels from coast-to-coast to help landowners develop, manage and enjoy the waters on their properties, Lusk has also had the chance to do a lot of fishing and to sample some of the best ways to prepare fish. So when I asked Lusk for his best crappie recipe, he didn't blink for a second in telling me: "I've got one that I call Bob's Crappie Ceviche; it's my favorite ceviche recipe." Here's the recipe, straight from The Pond Boss himself: Ingredients: 1 pound of fresh crappie fillets 1 cup of lemon juice 1/3 cup of lime juice 1/2 cup of orange juice 2 tablespoons of ketchup 1/4 teaspoon of salt 1 red pepper 1/2 of a small yellow hot chili pepper, grated or finely minced (optional) 1/3 cup of canned corn kernels 3 or 4 sprigs of cilantro Lettuce Parsley Prep and Cooking Instructions: Slice the fish fillets into strips about 1½ inches long and ¾ inches wide, but make them no thicker than 1/8 inch. Then place the fish in a bowl, pouring about 3/4 cup of lemon juice over the fish. Then mix it well. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate at room temperature for about one hour. Stir occasionally to let the marinade reach all of the pieces. Meanwhile, prepare the other marinade by combining the remaining ¼ cup of lemon juice, the lime and the orange juices along with the ketchup, salt, onion and finely chopped red and green peppers. You want to reserve two slices of peppers for garnish, by the way. Then add in the hot chili pepper, if you like, to give this an extra bite. Drain and toss out the first lemon marinade, covering the fish with the newly seasoned marinade. Use an airtight container and refrigerate all of this for four hours, turning the fish every hour. After that, serve the ceviche over a bed of lettuce leaves on a chilled platter, including chopped vegetables. But be sure to drain most of the juice from the fish. Garnish with sliced bell pepper circles, corn, chopped cilantro and parsley. Provide toothpicks for these 50 or so bite-size servings and enjoy a great way to prepare and eat crappie! Casey Scanlon’s Crappie Tacos Bassmaster Elite Series pro Casey Scanlon has prowled the crappie-rich waters near his Lenexa, Kan., home for many years. And since Kansas and nearby Missouri are home to some great slab waters, it's no surprise Scanlon has a favorite way to enjoy a limit of sac au laits. "I like to make crappie tacos after a good crappie trip," said Scanlon. "They are pretty simple to prepare, since you just fry them up with your regular fish batter. The only difference is that you want to add in some taco seasoning to the batter before rolling the fillets in it. Personally, I like the Andres seasoning. Just dip the fillet into either an egg wash or milk, then batter up the fillets and fry. Then serve the fried crappie in soft tortillas with lettuce and some sort of topping like pico de gallo."