Eating the fried fish is part of the whole experience of fishing; I bring home the tastiest fish that I catch, I fillet them and then I deep fry enough of them to feed my entire family. Deep frying fish is a tradition in my family that goes back generations.
I realize that this is not exactly the healthy heart meal, but deep-fried crappies, deep-fried potatoes, cole slaw and potato salad. What a great way to end a fantastic day.
My father always used to tell me that fantastic fried fish begins with fantastic fish. My two favorite kinds of fish to eat are crappies and walleyes. If you want your fish to taste great you have to keep them fresh. the best way to keep them fresh is to keep them alive. I put the fish into my livewell and keep recirculating the water in it throughout the day. On my way home I will buy a bag of ice and put it into the livewell to keep the water cold for the drive home. You do not want your fish to become too hot because they will die and begin to decompose almost immediately.
If you don't have a livewell, keep the fish on ice. Keep them in the water until you are ready to drive home and then place them in your cooler and pack them in ice. Once again, a fish that is kept cold will taste better because it has not had a chance to decompose yet.
The next secret that I would like to discuss with you is to eat as many of the fish as soon as you can. It might sound barbaric but, fish that have been killed with the fillet knife always taste the best. The moral of that old adage is that fresh fish will always taste better than fish that have sat in the freezer.
The next step is the cleaning of the fish. the best piece of advice that I can give you is to for the cleaning is to have a bucket of water next to you and to clean the meat as soon as you separate it from the fish. Take the meat that you are going to eat into the kitchen and freeze any of it that is not going to be eaten immediately. Freeze the fish in freezer bags with a little bit of water. Ensure that all of the air is removed from the bags and then place them flat on a shelf in your freezer. You can stack the bags after the meat is frozen, but until then I prefer to have them sitting flat in a shelf because they will freeze more quickly.
What this all means to you is that what you do with your fish from the time that you catch them until the time that you throw them into the hot oil will determine how good they taste. Fish that are kept correctly, cleaned correctly, frozen correctly and then stored correctly will taste better!
Now for the nuts and bolts of fried fish. That is the fried fish recipe. Every avid outdoorsman has his own recipe for fried fish batter, mine is much more simple than most. I like to use Aunt Jemima Buttermilk pancake Batter. I add a few spices and that is it. Here is how I do it:
1) Cut your fish fillets into bite sized pieces and have them on the counter.
2) Dip the fillet into a dish that has raw eggs in it. Immerse the fillet so the egg sticks to it. This will enable the batter to stick to it.
3) Have your batter in a large bowl. Drop your fillet into the batter. Take it and roll it over several times, ensuring that it is completely covered with the batter.
4) Drop several pieces of the batter-covered fillets into your deep-fryer. Watch the fish as it cooks. Fish that is done will float to the top. This is the most important part of frying fish. You must monitor the color of the batter on the fillets. I like to take them out once they turn tan. Tan fish fillets will be moist and tender. If you allow them to cook until they are golden brown, the fish will be dry and tough.
My dad was exactly correct when he said that fantastic fried fish begins with fantastic fish. I have given you several tips here that will make your next fish fry fantastic and unforgettable instead of just good!