Shagadelic Eats: Fish fry

Home Archived Opinion Shagadelic Eats: Fish fry

Melissa Brown

Published: November 22, 2006

One of the benefits of living on the Gulf coast is year-round access to fresh seafood.  My fianc‚e Shannon and his painting crew spent a day 40 miles out in the Gulf at the end of snapper season this year.  They caught over 100 fish and brought home about 60.  Shannon had the catch of the day: a 29 «-inch king mackerel.  But the bulk of the guys’ catch was snapper: red, mingo and lane.

After they cleaned, filleted and equally distributed the fish, Shannon came home with instructions to thoroughly wash the fillets and freeze in resealable plastic bags.  What they forgot to tell him was that the bags need to be filled with filtered water to help prevent frostbite.  He didn’t learn that necessary detail until a week later.  So, we defrosted about 22 fillets of various snapper and invited friends over for a fish fry and bonfire.  We used both a hand-welded propane burner with a heavy duty aluminum pot and a fry daddy to keep the goodies coming. (Photo 2)

Mel’s soon-to-be-famous hushpuppies

1 C self-rising yellow cornmeal mix

« C all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp white sugar

« Tb (= 1 « tsp) baking powder

1 tsp garlic powder

« tsp white pepper

1 large egg

« C+ buttermilk

¬ C good quality beer (Newcastle)

¬ C green onions, thinly sliced

3 Tb pickled jalape¤o, finely chopped (optional)

Peanut oil for frying (at least 3 inches deep)

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Add the egg and blend.  Slowly pour in buttermilk and beer to make a thick batter that easily forms into a ball and drops slowly from a spoon.  When the right consistency is reached, stir in the green onions and jalape¤os.  (Photo 3) Use two spoons to carefully drop 1-inch sized balls into the hot oil.  (Photo 4) Turn the hushpuppies to cook all sides evenly until golden brown (about 5-7 minutes at 350ø).  Drain on paper towels and serve hot.

Fried snapper nuggets

Red, mingo, and/or lane snapper fillets (my favorite was the delicate, tender mingo/vermillion snapper)

Box Zatarain’s Crispy Southern-Style Fish Fry (with the lemon on the box)

Peanut oil for frying (at least 3 inches deep)

Place fillets on a thick layer of paper towels and pat completely dry.  Pour « box of the fish fry mix into a paper bag.  (Photo 5) Add a few fillets, close bag, and shake thoroughly.  Remove the fillets and slice into bite-sized pieces.  (The coating makes it easier to slice the fish.)  Return to the bag for another thorough shake before carefully dropping into hot oil.  Fry until golden brown, or about 3-4 minutes at 350ø (the fish should flake easily).  Drain on paper towels and serve hot.

Crispy onion rings


self-rising yellow cornmeal mix

1 large Vidalia onion, thinly sliced

Sea salt, to taste

Soak sliced onion in buttermilk and refrigerate for at least an hour.  When ready to fry, bring to room temperature.  Drip excess buttermilk from slices and turn in a shallow bowl of cornmeal to coat.  Fry in 350ø peanut oil until the rings are golden brown and float to the surface.  Drain on paper towels and salt to taste.

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