by Chef Mitch Omer
One Popular Shore Lunch
Four 4- to 8-ounce
Salt and freshly ground
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 whole egg, lightly beaten
1/2 c. milk
2 c. crushed corn flakes
1/2 c. lard
Homemade tarter sauce
Heat the lard in a cast-iron skillet. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, beat the egg and milk together lightly.
Season the fillets with salt and pepper. Roll them in the all-purpose flour and shake off the excess. Then dip each fillet in the egg wash, allowing the excess to drain off. Immediately roll the fillet in the crushed corn flakes, pressing gently so the crumbs stick to the fillet.
Fry the breaded fillets in the hot lard, about 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
1 c. minced green onion tops
1/2 c. Miracle Whip
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Mix together all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use.
Equipment—A cast-iron skillet is still the time-honored favorite for frying fish. The heavy cast distributes heat evenly, and the high sides prevent the fat from bubbling over as fillets are added. Of course, many fine-quality nonstick pans are on the market, and most also work well.
Fat—Shortenings are favored for frying. These include solids such as lard and hydrogenated fats, and liquids such as corn, safflower, cottonseed, peanut, grape seed, sesame seed, and olive oils. Solid fats tend not to break down so quickly as liquid oils and therefore often are preferred for frying fish. Use only fresh, unused shortenings.
Food dropped into fresh hot oil acts as an irritant to the oil, which responds by immediately sealing the breading so the oil can’t get to the food inside. All crumbs, drops of breading, salt, or water that fall into the oil during frying weaken the oil’s ability to seal the breading. That’s why it’s important to shake off excess breading or batter before frying.
Temperature—Keeping the fat at about 365°F is important. Use a frying thermometer when you can, and keep the thermometer in hot water to prevent it from breaking when it’s placed in the hot fat. Wipe the thermometer dry before placing it in the fat to prevent spattering.
When a thermometer isn’t handy, test the temperature by dropping a small cube of bread into the hot fat. The cube will brown in about 60 seconds when the fat is at 365°F. Always allow the fat to reach the proper temperature again before adding more fillets.
Wash—Breading requires something to hold it fast to the fish fillets. An egg wash works well. Beaten eggs are mixed with a small amount of water or milk, or sometimes beer.
Breading—The fat must be hot enough to immediately seal the outside of a fillet, to prevent the loss of juices and also to prevent sticking. Prior to frying, the fish should be at room temperature (about 70°F). Cold fish lower oil temperature, resulting in fillets that don’t seal and become oil soggy. Some of the most popular breadings, singularly or in combination, include sesame seeds, buttermilk biscuit mix, corn meal, and corn flake crumbs.