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Thaw fish, if frozen. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into four serving-size pieces, if necessary. Measure thickness of fish. In a shallow dish, combine egg and water. In another shallow dish, stir together cornmeal (or breadcrumbs), salt and pepper. Dip fish into egg mixture; coat fish with cornmeal mixture.
In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch melted shortening (or oil). Add half of the fish in a single layer, frying on one side until golden. (If fillets have skin, fry skin side last.) Turn carefully; fry until second side is golden and fish begins to flake when tested with a fork. Allow 3 to 4 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Keep warm in a 300°F oven while frying remaining fish.