I haven't had fish sticks or fried fish in years, that is, until I came to the South. Here I learned about fried oysters and whenever my daughter is out of town, MM and I splurge on a pint. Last week I had some cod that was kind of blah looking but still quite fresh and perfect for frying, southern style. I was so right, and it was so good that my daughter didn't even complain about the frying.
This recipe is more about Southern frying than about fish. In my search for the best and authentic I turned to none other than one of the greatest American cooks and the doyenne of southern country cooking, Edna Lewis. Her recipes represent home cooking at its Southern best.. They are a real treasure and if you don't have one of her books, you don't know what you are missing.
Mother was horrified when she saw me taking photos for the blog while the fish sat in paper towels on a plate. I am in the camp of another great Southern cook, Lee Bailey, who said food should be photographed the way it looks with no fancy embellishments around it.
This is the kind of food you serve right out of the pan via a plate with paper towels.. It is family fare not company food. No need for silver or fancy plates. Just you and the fish.
|Yes, it is a bit messy but it comes off easily with just vinegar and water.|
Edna Lewis's original recipe calls for freshwater fish, such as catfish, perch or whiting. I made these with cod and it was excellent. I bet it would be great with yellow tail ! Do make it with peanut oil which heats to a higher degree than other oils. It is an integral part of this recipe and of southern frying. Lastly, I have halved the original recipe so adjust accordingly if you are frying more fish.
Fried Fish Recipe Adapted from A Fish Fry For Porgy, Edna Lewis
3 Cups Peanut Oil
4 to 8 fish fillets, freshwater or saltwater
1 cup white cornmeal
2 TB all purpose flour
1 TB cornstarch
1 TB sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
lemon wedges to accompany
Mix together all the ingredients for the dredge. In an iron skillet heat the oil,to 340 degrees F.When it reaches that temperature, quickly dredge the fish fillets in the cornmeal mix shake the excess and slip one at a time into the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pan. You will need to cook the fish in batches. Fry the fish until golden brown and crisp all over, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oil and place on crumpled paper towels. Serve immediately!
All photos Lindaraxa
Recipe adapted from Edna Lewis