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We love fish every which way: steamed, sautéed, grilled, broiled or baked. But the truth is, almost everything tastes better when it's fried!
In fact, the fish fry is a popular American tradition. In the Northeast, particularly upstate New York and Pennsylvania, they favor haddock and cod. In the Midwest, they like local catches, including perch, walleye and smelt. Then there’s the South, where you’ll find catfish and flounder.
And no matter where you travel, you’re likely to encounter Friday fish fries on or around Lent, considering it’s a common religious practice to abstain from meat products, in observance of Jesus’s crucifixion.
How to Choose the Best Kinds of Fish For Frying
Firm, flaky, mild-tasting white fillets are ideal, like those mentioned above. Opt for these over steak-like, strong-flavored tuna, salmon and swordfish.
Fillets go especially well with fish fry batter, from a simple dredge of white flour and breadcrumbs, to a coating of egg and crunchy cornmeal.
We’re especially fans of beer battered fish, where the fish batter is made from fizzy beer and baking powder, which produces a fluffy, golden, shatteringly crisp crust.
But whatever combination you select, here’s a no-fail method for how to fry fish!
1. Start by soaking your fillets in milk or beaten eggs for 2-3 minutes,
2. Before gently rolling them in seasoned flour, breadcrumbs or cornmeal, and tap off the excess.
Using beer batter? Skip these steps completely and do this instead: Simply take those fillets for a brief swim in the bowl, and let the extra drip off, so your coating doesn’t get too thick.
1. Fill a large, nonstick pan (we like cast iron!) with enough oil to come halfway up the sides of your fish. Choose oil with a high smoke point, like vegetable, sunflower, safflower or grapeseed. Heat it over medium heat, until the oil begins to shimmer but not smoke.
You can test that it’s ready by dropping a tiny pinch of breadcrumbs or batter into the pan — if it sizzles and browns immediately, you know that you’re good to go.
2. Carefully add your fish, making sure not to crowd the pan. Cook for three to four minutes on one side, then gently flip the fish over, and cook for three to four minutes on the other side.
3. Remove your fish to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
4. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of salt, some lemon, and some tartar sauce or malt vinegar if desired.
Looking for some more guidance? Check out this awesome fish fry recipe!