From Chapter 27 of The House of Roses|
Fried Fish (Below)
Hush Puppies (Page 2)
Mac-n-Cheese (Page 2)
Fire & Ice (Page 3)
Biscuits (Page 4)
Bananas Foster (Page 5)
SOUTHERN FRIED FISH
If you're lucky like Josie and I and can catch your supper, then use whatever fish your pole brought in that day. If not, just make sure the fish you buy is fresh and caught locally if at all possible. But, having said that, I will tell you in this day and age, unlike some other seafood, frozen packaged fish from the grocery store, when prepared properly, can certainly satisfy your craving for fried fish. Any type of firm, white fish will work. No matter what you use though, the key is definitely in the FRYING. As my Dad used to say, If it ain't fried, it ain't food!
- 1 lb Fish Fillets
- 1 Large Can of Crisco Shortening
- 1 Egg
- 1 Cup Milk
- Garlic Salt to taste
- 1 ½ Cups All Purpose Flour
- ½ Cup of Corn Meal
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Start off with a dutch oven and melt your shortening in it. You're looking for your liquid oil to be about 3 inches or so deep - enough to cover the fish fillets and let them move around in the pan as they're cooking. Heat the liquid oil to 350 degrees. This is absolutely critical. You MUST maintain 350 degrees throughout the cooking process otherwise, you're going to have mushy fish. Make sure to use a deep frying thermometer for this. If you don't have one - get one. No matter what you're frying, you're gonna need it.
While your oil is heating up, make an egg wash to soak your fish filets in. For people who don't do a lot of cooking, and Josie obviously comes to mind here, this is simply a mixture of egg and milk with seasonings of your choice. I prefer garlic salt, but occasionally might spice it up a bit with some Old Bay or Cayenne Pepper. Make sure to mix the wash up thoroughly before you place your fish in it to soak.
In a separate pan, mix your flour, corn meal, salt and pepper. When your oil has reached 350 degrees, take each fillet individually, shake the excess wash off, roll it in the dry mixture and CAREFULLY place into the HOT oil. The easiest way to do this is to let the piece of fish slide gently into the oil. Never drop the fish or you're going to be dealing with burnt skin instead of enjoying a great fish sandwich.
Again, make sure your oil maintains 350 degrees. As you add each piece of fish, you may need to adjust the burner temperature to do so. Also, and this is important, don't crowd the pan. It's important that there is sufficient room for the fish to move freely around in the oil, which will allow it to cook evenly throughout each piece. Depending upon how much fish you have, this may require several batches. That's OK. When each piece is done, simply place it to drain on paper towels on top of small racks. I actually use cake cooling racks myself. Don't put the fish in the oven as this will definitely make the crispy crust that you just worked so hard to get, soft and greasy. The fish will be fine for a bit sitting to the side since it will need to cool after cooking at such high heat anyway. And besides, the cook needs to have a tasty taste to keep up his strength while he goes along.
The big question though is - how do you know when the fish is done frying? The secret answer to that is - when it floats in the pan. It generally takes 3 to 4 minutes and will look golden brown, but trust me on this one. I've fried enough fish in my life time to know that there is no surer method to judge. When the fish is floating - pull it out - it's done!