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DIY Southern Fish Fry

For a southern fish fry, traditionally, catfish is the ideal choice for a fish fry. Other great choices are flounder, bass or bream. A good rule of thumb is 1/2 to one pound of fish per person.  


Invest in a deep fryer


With a large amount of fish to fry, you'll want to invest in a quality deep fryer. Since half the fun is enjoying the warm weather, opt for an outdoor fryer. At the end of the day, you'll be glad your house doesn't smell like deep-fried fish.


Sides, Sauces and Sips For Your Fry


  • French fries
  • onion rings
  • hush puppies
  • cole slaw
  • tartar sauce
  • vinegar
  • ketchup
  • lemon wedges
  • pickles
  • cocktail sauce
  • beer
  • sweet tea
  • lemonade


Stock Up On Picnic Supplies

Part of the beauty of a fish fry is the limited cleanup. Ditch the fancy tableware and break out the paper plates, napkins, and plastic utensils. While you're at it, lay some old newspapers or brown paper bags out on top of some picnic tables.





    • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
    • 2 tablespoons chopped sweet gherkin pickles
    • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
    • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallions (white and light green parts only)
    • 2 teaspoons chopped capers (rinsed and drained)
    • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    • Vegetable oil, for frying
    • 3 russet potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch sticks
    • 3/4 cup fine cornmeal
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon paprika
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 cup milk
    • 2 pounds firm white fish fillets (such as hake, haddock, pollock or cod), cut into 3-inch chunks
    • Tartar sauce (recipe above)
    • Lemon wedges, for serving


For the tartar sauce:

In a medium bowl, mix together mayonnaise, gherkins, dill, scallions, capers, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use.

For the fish and fries:

1. Fill a Dutch oven or heavy deep saucepan with 3 inches of oil and heat the oil to 350°F over medium-high heat. Preheat oven to 250°F.

2. Place a cooling rack onto a rimmed baking sheet. Lower the potatoes into the oil (don't overcrowd; you may need to cook in batches). Fry for 3 minutes. Remove to prepared baking sheet.

3. Increase the heat of the fryer to 375°F.

4. Place fries in the hot oil for a second fry and cook until golden brown and tender, about 6 minutes. Remove to prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Keep warm in oven while the fish fries.

5. In a shallow dish, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, paprika, garlic powder and pepper. Pour the milk into another shallow dish. Dip the fish in the milk, then dredge it in the cornmeal mixture, shaking off the excess. If you like a thicker breading, repeat the process, dipping the seafood in the milk and cornmeal mixture again.

6. Working in batches, lower the seafood into the hot oil and fry, turning once, until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Serve immediately with tartar sauce and lemon wedges.