Saint James Catholic Church fish fry, Grand Rapids. (February 15, 2013)
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - On the first Friday of Lent Catholic parishes were packed for an annual tradition: Fish fries.
The Saint James family center hosts one of the largest fish fries in Grand Rapids and there was barely a seat available at dinnertime Friday evening. Patrons began lining up for a plate half an hour before the food is served.
Meal manager Joseff VanHorn says his team works with the fish Monday through Thursday and it's finally ready for frying on Friday.
VanHorn revealed the secret to his recipe, "It's beer-- it's lots of beer. We go through a keg and a half of beer for 11,000 pounds of fish. And then we have our secret batter we dip it in."
VanHorn says the Saint James fish fry has been going on for about 30 years now, and he's honored to lead the tasty tradition.
"I love the challenge. It's high volume. I think they really love the camaraderie... It's a big family."
If you're looking for a fish fry this Lenten season we've compiled a database listing dozens of fish fries in your area. You can find the list here. (MOBILE USERS: http://on.wzzm.com/12Ogp9c)
Some of the church fish fries do offer baked fish, but there's another healthy Lenten alternative: Sushi.
"It's more healthy than fried or greasy food. And most customers are not familiar with raw fish, but once they get used to it, they love it," says Jason Kim, manager of Kobe Japanese Steakhouse in Grandville.
Kim says his restaurant sees a lot of people trying sushi for the first time. Kobe offers 60 to 70 sushi options from salmon and tuna, to clams and sea urchin. But for starters, he recommends a basic California roll, which is completely cooked.