Fish Fry Tools - Deep Fry CookerDeep Frying Fish is my favorite way to prepare, serve and eat fish. When you use the right tools, follow the right steps, and invite your friends or family over you can create a wonderful fish fry. Notice the deep fry propane cooker, pan, dipping basket, funnel, box with oil, and propane tank. You can never have enough tables - note the portable table I use which is a common camp supply table.
You want to learn the process of deep frying fish? Let experience be the mother of invention - watch someone else fry their fish and copy their formula. Then adapt, adopt and try things that are slightly different - experiment to your liking. Do you like thick coating, thin light coating, spicy coating? Personally: I like a thin coating with slight cajun spices. I will share with you how I accomplish this.
Deep Frying Cooker
There are many commercially available. I have 3 gas powered King Cookers that come as a kit with a propane burner stand, aluminum pan that holds one gallon of oil, and a dipping basket. Here is a view looking down from top of one of my burners with a batch of fillets ready to take out. The nice thing about having more than one is it allows you to have more than one dipping basket as well as having up to 3 burners going for frying a large number of fillets, or using one burner basket for other items like fried onion rings or straws. Note the burner stand has a safety rail that prevents the pan of oil from slipping off the stand. There are several electric deep fry kits available, one of which I use when I want to prepare only enough fish for one or two people.
There are more ways to coat, bread or batter your fillets than there are people on the planet. Certain principles apply: batter implies a liquid often containing a mixture that may contain any one or all of eggs, milk, flour, corn meal, pancake mix, and/or a variety of other spices such as pepper, cajun spices and more. Simply dip your fish fillet into this batter and place in the fish fry basket just before placing gently into the hot oil being careful not to splash the hot oil.
My preference when deep frying fish is to have a slight cajun spice with a thin breading coating my fried fish. After much experimentation I have settled on an equal mixture of one package of McCormick's Fish Fry, with one package of Louisiana Fish Fry. Although Louisiana Fish Fry has MSG and a salty taste, McCormick's does not the end result being a fried fish serving that is low in salty taste. I have also experimented with making my own mixture using corn meal, flour, and cajun spices.
My Personal Fish Breading Mixture
Either using fresh fillets or ones that have just been thawed I soak them in 2% milk with about one teaspoonful of squeezed lemon or lemon juice for several hours. (If you want a thicker coating use buttermilk and/or add blend an egg into this soaking mixture.) It is important to keep them cold in the refrigerator. When ready to begin cooking, drain the liquid from your fillets and begin the breading process. Breading can be done by tossing your fillets in a freezer bag containing your breading mixture. Or invest in a breading containers you can find at most sporting goods stores. Place the breaded fillets in a tray ready for the fry dipping pan.
Breaded Fillets Waiting
I have used Corn Oil, Cottonseed Oil, Canola Oil, and Soybean Oil when deep frying fish. The Fish Fry Oil that I now rely on is Canola Oil because based on my own taste buds and in combination with the breading I use my deep fried fish ends up tasting light, not greasy and great. I also have high cholesterol and Canola Oil is an oil that has one of the lowest amounts of saturated fats. Canola Oil also has a flash point or smoke point of 466 F which is well above the 350-375 temperatures I maintain deep frying fish.
When deep frying fish this is the time when the rubber meets the road! Heating your oil takes about 10 minutes depending on how high you set your burner. Be sure to have a deep fry thermometer to monitor the temperature rise and adjust your burner to keep the temperature between 350 and 375 degrees F. You definitely need to have breaded fillets ready to dip when the temperature first reached 350 degrees to ensure you don't allow the oil temperature to rise too high. Place the breaded fillets so that they fill the bottom of the dipping basket. Be sure you have a way to monitor the time. Begin timing when the dipping basket enters the hot oil placing it gently into the oil in order to not create a splash.
Dipping Basket Ready for the Hot Oil
Caution When Placing Dipping Basket in Hot Oil
Calling it Done!If you have a second dipping pan prepare the next batch of breaded fillets so that when you remove the first basket you can place the second basket into the hot oil. Monitor your burner so that the temperature of the oil remains at or slightly above 350 degrees F. Check the color of the fillets at approximately 2 minutes. If your oil has reached 375 degrees you are probably about done now. If the oil has fallen in temperature to 325 -350 you will find that they will be done between two and a half minutes and three minutes. This is the moment you have to make a call. With experience you will learn when to pull the basket and call them "Done!?
The Official Taste Tester ApprovesPerhaps the most important part of deep frying fish is to have a taste tester ready to sample a broken portion of the fried fish. Part of the fun of the fish fry is to have friends who have helped you prepare the dinner. The official taste tester sometimes turns out to be about 4-5 anglers who wander by and just happen to find a broken piece of fried fish. It does not get any better than to have the tester taste a piece and become speechless!
Ready For Dinner