By Joe Finneman | Fargo, ND – SCHEELS Fishing Expert
I know there are a lot of ways to prepare fish (grilling, baking and smoking). The list can go on and on! But, I enjoy my fish fried. One of the best parts of fishing is the eating! I am often asked by customers how can I fry my fish better. Here are three tips for you to try the next time you take the frier out.
Maintaining constant oil temperature of 375 – 385 degrees is critical in frying fish. One of the best items you can have to help fry fish more consistently is to use an oil thermometer. Check the oil temp between every batch of fish to ensure proper temps. When you are frying larger batches, batter can accumulate on the bottom of your pan, which takes away from the direct contact of your oil and heat source. If you are using a thermometer and are not gaining temperature, I would recommend checking the bottom of the pan for this problem.
I like to use a spatula to scrape at the bottom of my pan in between 3 to 4 batches of fish to make sure that the oil is heating properly. I typically use peanut oil as it seems to work the best for me when frying fish. As long as you don’t get it too hot and burn it, you can use an oil strainer to pour the oil back into the container and re-use it the next time you fry fish.
Don’t put too much fish in at once, doing this drops the oil temperature too fast and will result in “soggy” fish. The end result will turn out much better if you fry several smaller batches. I like to fry my fish until they are a nice golden brown. When frying batches of fish, try cutting them into similar sized pieces. Doing this will help ensure that when you remove them from the oil, all pieces are cooked evenly. If I have larger pieces of fish, often times I will “cube” them into small bite-sized chunks before battering them.
There are several recipes and many ways to prepare fish. I personally like to prepare my fish with a dry rub because it absorbs less oil than a beer batter. One of my favorite seasonings is the “Shorty’s“ brand of fish breading. It comes in three different flavors to please many different tastes.
I will vary my recipes depending on how much prep time I have. Damp fillets used with any dry rub/seasoning works great, however I have done an egg wash with milk to dip my fillets into before tossing them into my seasoning. I also like some “kick” to my fish, so I will often times mix in a cajun seasoning with my batter.
“I LIKE MY FISH FRIED.”
One of the best parts of fishing is the eating! Each summer a group of full-time associates and myself host an annual fish fry for the part-time fishing associates. We also fry potatoes and cheese curds as well.
*Cheese curds are great, but I did learn that these need to be dropped into the oil or they will stick to the basket!