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4 Easy Ways to Fry Fish

There is no smarter decision than adding fish to your daily meals. A good fry-up is not only tasty but also comes with a whole lot of nutrients.

You might be aware that fish meat can contribute to your health and happiness, right? Well, you don’t need a lot of adornments to achieve that. Instead, you need to cook fish lightly, like a pro.

Unfortunately, it is at this point that most of us meet a huge obstacle- failure to know techniques for frying fish. Others even fall back to their old standbys or quick meals. This could mean frying in oil, adding batters, and many other jokes. So you get a tasty fish meal, but is this good for you? Probably not. You can also read our handy guide to re-heating battered fish.

Resist the urge to fry fish until it becomes flaky. Anytime you are frying fish, make sure to maintain the heat at 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit- the oil temp for frying fish. 

Now, in this article, we are going to look at 7 easy ways to fry fish to get opaque meat that is moist and extremely delicious.

Deep Frying

Most people fear trying out deep-frying at home, perhaps because they think that such tricky frying methods are for commercial purposes, where vacuum fryers and pressure fryers are the major tools of the trade. However, it is much easier to get excellent results at home, but you have to use a large frying pot. Make sure you checkout our guide to deep frying at home.

With deep frying, you are sure to get fish done in a few minutes. Additionally, the fish will cook evenly, so you can forget the sub-merge technique here.

So, you want your fish to attain crispiness and a desirable golden brown color, right? Well, you just need to keep the temperature high, apart from using oils with higher smoking points.



What Kind of Oil Do You Fry Fish in?

There are a variety of oils you can use to deep fry fish, but sunflower oil or vegetable oil is the best. This is simply because they have higher smoking points as compared to several other oils.

A kitchen thermometer comes in handy when you want to test the heat of oils. Alternatively, you can drop a piece of bread into the oil and see how long it takes for the piece to turn color to a golden brown. For sunflower oil, it should take up to 20 seconds if the heat is 170°C. The trick here is using the right oil.

Yes, deep frying can give you excellent results if you do it properly. In real terms, it is a good treat though not the healthiest of all methods.

Now, this is how to deep-fry and get crispy, delicious fish:

First of all, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions labeled on your deep fryer.

  • Get ½ inch thick fish. Dry them to drive out any moisture. Excess moisture will cause splattering of oil, which can burn your skin terribly.
  • Get a thermometer to monitor oil temperature. If the oil is too cold, your fish is likely to be greasy; if it is too hot, the fish will get excessively burned on the outside than the inside.
  • Heat vegetable oil slowly to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Slice the fish into smaller pieces so that it takes a few minutes to cook.
  • Beat eggs and then dip fillets sprinkled with flour. Coat with some breading.
  • Proceed to cook up to five minutes, or until you see the fish has turned brown on both sides.
  • Ensure that the pieces do not come into contact with each other while you cook, otherwise, you will end up with meat that has a soggy coating.
  • Drain on a towel or paper. And it is ready for serving.

How long does it take to deep fry fish?

Most people fail to keep time when deep-frying fish, and that is why they end up with tasteless and overly flaky fish. If you are this kind of person, make sure to consult the deep fry fish temperature chart. According to this chart, fish should be deep-fried at 365 °F for 3 to 5 minutes. Now, if you were wondering about how long do you deep fry fish, you are in the know.

Tips for Deep Frying Fish Like a Pro

  • Get the right equipment, especially if you are a beginner. If you are, however, an experienced chef, you can even use a large pot, but it should maintain consistent oil temperature. The good thing is that you can find good deep-frying pots for as low as $50.
  • Choose frying oil wisely. This is a secret many chefs won’t tell you.
  • Mind your safety. Avoid leaving the oil unattended as high temperatures can result in terrible fires.
  • Don’t overcrowd your deep fryer with fish. This is likely to lower the temperature of the oil, leaving your fish improperly cooked.
  • Avoid low cooking temperatures to prevent the fish from getting greasy.

Pan Frying or Sauté

If you were wondering what technique to use for your fish to be crispy and tender, then look no further- pan-frying is the simple solution.

This method suits fillets, slipper tails, shrimp, bay scallops, and other seafood. You can also fry firm fish such as halibut and cod using this method, but you may need to, first of all, cut them into slices and then stir-fry them.

  • Dry the outside of the 2 fish fillets using a towel. If you are using whole fish, you will need to remove bones and scales.
  • Season the fish with fresh minced herbs before pan-frying them. You can use your favorite seasonings together with salt and ground pepper to taste.
  • Bread the fish with flour to give them a crispy texture. Make the bread by mixing ¼ cup of flour and 1 tablespoon of hot paprika. When you apply that coating, the fish will brown evenly.
  • Avoid overcoating as the thick crusts will not only fall while frying but also hinder the fish from cooking evenly.
  • Preheat the pan for about 2 minutes, or until you start seeing visible heat waves. This works to prevent the flour coat from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Alternatively, you can use a nonstick pan for frying.
  • Pour 1 ½ of oil in the frying pan and heat it. Carefully, add canola or vegetable oil and tilt the pan to coat the entire bottom of the skillet.
  • Use medium heat to fry every side of the fish for 2 minutes. Use tongs to cook each side or two minutes, and the outside of the fish will become crispy. The bread will turn into a golden-brown crust.
  • Thicker fish take up to 4 minutes to cook. If your fish has skin, then you should fry the skin side first.
  • Rest the fish onto a heat-resistant plate and cover with a paper towel. Don’t exceed staying the towel over the fish for more than 1 minute, as your fish will become soggy.
  • After allowing the fish up to 2 minutes to lose heat, serve it plain or top them with garnishes.
  • Minced parsley and lemon juice are good garnishes to enhance the flavor.

Pan-frying promises to give you an irresistible combination of crispy exterior and juicy, moist interior. You will celebrate.

There are about 3 ways to do pan-frying, but it all depends on the type of fish you are frying. For example, most people find frying shrimp a bit difficult or tricky. For shrimps, it all goes down to using the right oil.

What Is The Best Oil to Fry Shrimp?

As we said earlier, one simple way to achieve crispiness in any type of fish is by using oils with higher smoking points.

Shrimp is always a real treat at home. However, bringing out the best flavor and fragrance out of shrimps proves difficult for most of us, and that is why renowned chefs recommend that we use peanut oil- because of its flavor and high smoke point. Do you get the idea?

Vegetable oil is yet another amazing oil you can use for pan-frying shrimp and any other type of fish. It is inexpensive and it also comes with a good flavor for frying shrimp specifically.shrimp in a frying pan

Shallow Frying

Shallow frying is arguably the most common method of frying fish around the globe. It is suitable for frying fish, chicken breasts, eggs, veggies, and small portions of steak.

However, one real turnoff with this method is that it requires a lot of effort and skill to get your fish done correctly. But you should expect crispy and mouth-watering fish if you go this route, that is a guarantee.

To shallow-fry, you pass your fish over high heat using a small amount of oil, which results in crispy, golden brown fish. Another plus is that you will love the flavor that this technique will give your fish.

And just like shallow frying other things, paying attention to time is key when shallow frying fish. Preheat the pan before adding your fish, and then watch keenly. Flip it over when you realize it is slightly turning moist. It is all about timing.

Now, how do you do shallow frying?

Shallow frying is a great alternative to deep-frying, especially if you are dealing with small portions of fish or meat. It lends small pieces of fish crispiness without having to slowly submerge them in oil.

What’s more, you can do it using an ordinary pan as it does not require complex equipment such as a vacuum deep fryer. What you do is to fill the oil in the pan to half-depth of the fish. You cook the first side through and then flip over to cook the other side as well. When you do this, make sure to start with the skin side, followed by the flesh side.

You will need:

  • Deep pot or pan
  • Paper towels
  • Spatula or metal tongs
  • Fry basket
  • Oil with a high smoking point

Follow this simple guide to shallow frying fish

  • Add oil to the deep pot in such a manner that the fish is partly submerged. The amount of oil you should add is dependent on the depth of the pot you are using and the size of the fish or pieces you want to fry.
  • The oil should be peanut oil, canola, sunflower, or any other vegetable oil that has a high smoke point. This serves to ensure that your fish does not come out smelling like a burnt offering.
  • Heat the oil to 375°F (190°C). Ensure that you preheat the oil before adding the fish. If you are worried about losing control of things, you can consider using a thermometer throughout the frying. Shallow frying on a low temperature leaves the fish greasy, so ensure that the oil is hot before starting to shallow-fry.
  • How do you know that the oil is hot? Well, if the fish sizzles as soon as it makes contact with the oil, the oil is hot.

Frying The Skin Side

As a rule, always fry the skin side of your fish before the flesh side. And before dipping the fish into the oil, leave it to rest at the counter for at least 10 minutes. There is no need to lower the temperature of the oil by dipping fish straight from the ridge. You don’t want soggy fish, do you?

Apart from the risk of your fish getting greasy due to the cold, splattering of oil due to cold foods can expose you to a safety hazard.

  • Gently add the fish to the pan. Use the tongs or metal spatula to lower the fish into the oil. Mind your safety when doing this. Thus, bring your hand closer to the oil to prevent the splashing of oil when you dip the fish and then withdraw quickly to avoid getting burnt.
  • Dip fish in batches. If you have many pieces of fish, it would help to give each piece some time to fry fully. Overcrowding the oil effectively lowers the temperature of the oil, so you get greasy fish.
  • Also, ensure that the pieces do not overlap. Just allow them some space and time. Add more pieces only after you see smoke over the oil.
  • It’s about timing. Fry for some minutes and rely on your judgment to determine whether the fish is done or not.
  • Frying fish fillets and small portions of meat won’t take long as compared to thick pieces of fish or meat.
  • Flip the fish after the first side becomes golden brown. Use tongs or metal spatula to test for doneness in the first side. If the first side is done, it is time to turn the fish.
  • Fry the other side until the whole fish is completely cooked. Use a spatula to remove the fish from the oil carefully. Hold the fish above the oil a bit to allow excess oil to drip off.
  • Transfer the fish into a paper towel. This will help to soak off any bits of oil that did not drip off into the pan.
  • Serve the fish while it’s hot and crispy.

Note: The oil temp for frying fish using this method should range between

Tips for Shallow Frying

  • Shallow frying is a good way to practice how to fly fish since it allows you to work with increasing quantities of oil as you progress. Once you are fully satisfied with your skill at shallow frying, you can try out deep frying.
  • Use this method to fry delicate fish, for example, salmon and fillets, that would otherwise break apart if subjected to deep-frying.
  • Shallow frying is a sure good way to save the frying time.
  • Always dispose of oil properly. Perhaps you can strain it and store it for re-use.

While you plan to fry your fish using a shallow frying method, be warned that this method isn’t suitable for frying tough steak, that is why it is left for fish and other delicate seafood.

Southern Fish Fry

To fry fish in the traditional way, also known as Southern Fish Fry, only requires you to grasp simple basics to enable you to get excellent results.

plated fried fish

To cook southern fried fish you will need:

  • Fish (preferably catfish)
  • Cornmeal
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt
  • Milk
  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • Ground pepper

This method is suitable for frying catfish and black mullet.

  • Clean and rinse your fish
  • Drop them in the container with cornmeal and shake thoroughly. This will give them a coating when they fry.
  • Heat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, being careful not to let it get extremely hot.
  • Dip pieces of fish into the hot oil, one by one. Mind your safety by avoiding splashing the oil as this could leave you with terrible burns.
  • The fish will be done when they start attaining a golden brown color. If you watch carefully, you will realize that they will start to float on the oil.
  • When you get the desired brown color, remove them using tongs or metallic spatula and allow them to drain excess oil between paper towels.
  • You can drop hushpuppies into the hot oil and let them cook until they are brown as well.
  • Apart from hushpuppies, you can serve southern fried fish with baked beans or other side dishes.

Oil Temp for Frying Fish

By now, you can fry fish using any of the above best fish frying methods, right? Well, it also helps to know the oil temperature for frying fish. As you may realize, most people end up with bad results because they fail to realize the tricks behind crispy, juicy fish.

In real terms, oil temperature control is very important when it comes to frying fish. If the heat is too low, the fish becomes greasy or soggy. If it gets too high, you will have to eat burnt meat.

You won’t go wrong if you buy a candy thermometer or deep-frying thermometer to help you in controlling temperature.

Other Ways to Prepare Delicious Fish

The same there are tons of ways to kill a rat, there also exist several other ways to prepare mouthwatering fish.

  • Grilling. This method involves applying even heat to a fish on top of a grill. The grill is usually fitted with an aluminum foil to ensure that heat spreads evenly towards the fish.
  • Poaching. This method involves dipping fish in broth to attain a good flavor and juicy texture. It is especially suitable if you ‘re dealing with fresh fish. You can poach fish in wine, water, milk, or even in heated liquids.
  • Steaming. Also known as steaming en papillote, steaming involves wrapping fish alongside some seasonings inside a paper foil. Your work is just to place the toppings and fish in parchment paper and then heating them inside a microwave. Steaming is a method known to give your fish a desirable fragrance.
  • Broiling. When the environment around you is not suitable for grilling, try out broiling, better known as pan broiling. It is also a good method if you want to get fast but delicious results within no time at all. Additionally, broiling gives your fish a nice brown exterior because you cook evenly in controlled temperatures. This method works just like grilling because both use direct heat to turn fish brown.
  • Baking. Baking gives fish a coating that becomes a brown crust when you fry it. Suitable for frying steaks and fillets, baking is an amazing fish frying method whose only trick is keeping an eye on the whole process, and using the right amount of oil, cheese, butter and other ingredients listed on the recipe.

In Conclusion

As you may have realized, frying fish to bring out a good flavor and juicy taste go down to the trick that is balancing heat, keeping time and knowing the oils to use. Additionally, resisting the urge to overcook goes a long way to give you delicious and juicier fish meat.

You need to know how to handle fish and its delicate texture, which can make flavor and juice to fade away if not taken care of.

The tips above will come in handy when you want the best, for example during festive seasons, food exhibitions, events, and more.

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Pauline is a mother of four, when she isn't cooking up new dishes for her family and friends, she likes to dine out at newly-opened restaurants (especially tapas!) and review them in her blog posts.
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