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With spring finally upon us, the fishing and the catching will get better and better. The high winds and cold water temperature have kept catches to their winter worst. However, many food fish will be available to be fried and served even this week.
First of all, most fried foods are less than healthy. However people that covet fried fish and/or fried chicken are not going to be diverted. Like most southern boys, I for one will have my fried fish or chicken fry. Normally, the best most cooks do when frying is to use olive oil which is usually the best of all the oils. But there is one better. Besides the oil to use, the coating to put on the fish is the other concern.
Fish cooks quickly, whether pan fried or deep fried. The oil must not be too hot, but hot enough. Three hundred to three fifty, is max. Without a deep fryer, a heavy iron pan is best, but any old pan will do in a pinch.
The best oil to fry with is coconut oil; period. But since coconut oil suffered a negative add campaign against it by jealous competitors in years past, only now is coconut oil coming into its own. Unknown by many, but valued by those who do know, Coconut oil is not only good to fry with, it is actually good for you. It shakes off like water, and goes much further than oily oils. But that is another story.
Coatings on fish vary with what the cook was taught, or what meets the appetite. They run from fine white corn meal, yellow corn meal, Panko bread crumbs, Italian bread crumbs, tempura, batter, beer batter, flour and a little known trick of taming strong fish, is a mixture of flour, thyme and garlic powder. The latter is to fry mullet or other strong fish in. Try it once, you’ll never go back. I learned that trick from a lady from Sweden who ran a bait shop in Madeira Beach in Pinellas County.
I once cooked mullet in that fashion and served it as trout to a person that would never, ever eat mullet, or bait has he referred to it as. He never knew the difference. He thought it was sea trout. Really, with the skin off the filet, no one will suspect.
Actually, some fish take more readily to certain coatings than others. For instance, smaller bone-in fish like bluegill, speckled perch (crappie) or even bass filets fare well with cornmeal; after a dip in a thin egg wash. Smaller pieces of firm fish like grouper or snapper are good to use with tempura, beer batter or Panko Bread Crumbs.
What ever your taste is in fried fish is it is difficult to have poor fried fish. That is of course unless it isn’t cooked through, or burned. But not in your house I’m sure.