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Heritage Cooking: How to Cook Whole Fish Fried Hard

Heritage Cooking: How to Cook Whole Fish Fried Hard

Cooking fish fried hard, especially with a Southern twist, is an art form that combines technique, tradition, and taste. This method, involving cornmeal, hot grease, Southern seasonings, chilled fish, and a cast iron skillet, results in a fish that’s crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Here are some tips to help you master this delicious culinary endeavor.

Heritage Cooking: How to Cook Whole Fish Fried Hard

First, the choice of fish is important. Opt for firm, fresh fish like catfish, whiting, or tilapia. Before you start, make sure the fish is thoroughly chilled. This helps in keeping the fish firm during the cooking process and ensures that it cooks evenly. Marinate your fish with your favorite Southern seasonings—think garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, a touch of cayenne for heat, salt, and pepper. Let the flavors meld into the fish in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or even overnight for a deeper infusion of flavors.

The batter is next. A simple yet effective coating is made from finely ground cornmeal mixed with a bit of all-purpose flour for binding. Season this mixture with the same seasonings used in the marinade to reinforce the flavors. Ensure your fish is lightly dredged in this mixture, shaking off any excess. This step is critical for achieving that coveted crispy exterior.

Finally, cooking the fish to perfection is all about the heat and the cookware. A cast iron skillet is ideal for frying fish because it retains and evenly distributes heat, ensuring your fish cooks evenly and gets that delicious crust. Fill the skillet with a high smoke point oil, like vegetable or peanut oil, and heat it until it’s shimmering but not smoking. Carefully lay the chilled, coated fish into the hot grease, and let it fry until the edges start to turn golden brown. Then, flip it carefully to cook the other side. The key is to not overcrowd the skillet, which can lower the oil’s temperature and result in soggy fish.

Once cooked to a golden, crispy perfection, remove the fish from the skillet and let it drain on a wire rack over a baking sheet (or paper towels) to keep it crispy. Serve hot with a squeeze of fresh lemon, hot sauce, or a side of coleslaw for an authentic Southern experience.

By following these steps, you can master the art of cooking fish fried hard with all the flavor and tradition of the South. Enjoy the process and the delicious results!

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Michiel Perry

Michiel is a Black Southern Belle living a lowcountry life. I love all things fashion, home decor and southern! When I am not running around doing fun stuff for Black Southern Belle, I live in antique stores and have a minor obsession with historic homes 🙂

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Michiel Perry

Michiel is a Black Southern Belle living a lowcountry life. I love all things fashion, home decor and southern! When I am not running around doing fun stuff for Black Southern Belle, I live in antique stores and have a minor obsession with historic homes :)

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