Deep Frying Fish is a common and favorite way to prepare, serve and eat fish. "Let's have a fish fry" is a great way to invite friends and family over for a tasty and fun afternoon or evening. Gather the right tools and this can be an easy thing to accomplish. Notice the deep fry propane cooker, pan, dipping basket, funnel, box with oil, and propane tank.
You can never have enough tables - having a foldable portable table is a simple and useful addition - handy to place your fish ready to fry as well as your final product.
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 thicker coatings, thin light coatings, spicy coatings? Start with a common breading - Uncle Bucks, Shore Lunch, Louisiana Fish Fry are good choices. Try mixing a mild coating like shore lunch with Louisiana Fish Fry to reduce the spices.
Read below about each of these things you will need to make a great batch of deep fried fish:
The King Cooker shown below comes as a kit with a propane burner stand, aluminum pan that holds one gallon of oil, and a dipping basket. On the left is a batch of fried walleye ready to eat. Getting a second cooker allows you to fry your fish more quickly. Or you can cook fish in one and make fried onions in the second one. There are several electric deep fry kits available which are generally easier to use for a 1-2 person fish fry. The link below will tell you more or let you pick one up.
There are as many ways to batter and flavor fried fish as there are people who like to eat it. Certain basics apply: batter (thick liquid) or dry powder needs to be applied to the fish as a coating before dipping into the hot oil. Apply a flavored dry powder to wet fish fillets or dip your fillets into a batter that is often made with a combination of eggs, milk, flower, corn meal, and/or many other options. 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.
Thicker batter as a rule will result in a thicker coating on your fish when coming out of the oil. Dipping your dampened fish into a dry batter mix will result in your fillets having a thinner lighter tasting coating on your fried fish.
Try this mixture a fish breading when deep frying fish and you will be surprised with the results. Try a mixture of a cajun fish fry mix like Louisiana Fish Fry with a Flour/Corn Meal breading like Shore Lunch or McCormicks Fish Fry. Equal portions of each is a good place to start. McCormick's seems to have less sodium content so the end result seems less salty. Try these and adjust to your taste.
Either using fresh fillets or ones that have just been thawed, soak them in milk with about one teaspoonful of squeezed lemon or lemon juice for several hours. (If you want a thicker coating use buttermilk and/or 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 container you can find at most sporting goods stores. Place the breaded fillets in a tray ready for the fry dipping pan as shown below.
There are several great oils to consider using when deep frying fish. Corn Oil, Cottonseed Oil, Canola Oil, Peanut Oil and Soybean Oil are all commonly used when deep frying fish. Canola oil is a light oil that provides a great tasting fried fish. Canola also features one of the lowest amounts of saturated fats. In addition, Canola Oil has a flash point or smoke point of 466 F which is well above the 350-375 temperatures recommended for deep frying fish. To read more about Fish Fry Oil click on this link.
When deep frying fish heating your oil is where 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.
Timing is important - you want to have breaded fillets ready to dip when the temperature first reaches 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.
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 it may take a few extra seconds, perhaps up to two and a half minutes to 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 most important part of deep frying fish is to have a taste tester ready to sample a portion of the fried fish. Part of the fun of the fish fry is to have friends who have helped you prepare the meal. The official taste tester may turn out to be about 4-5 tasters 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! One of the jobs of the person removing the fried fish from the cooker is to be sure to break a couple of fish in pieces so that samples can be taken.
Ready For Dinner!