When frying fish or seafood, the best is always fresh. My rule of thumb is to eat as much fresh fish as possible before storing and freezing it. It’s not that frozen fish is bad; not at all, your fish will never taste as good as when it comes out of the water. Of course, this is a hotly debated topic these days with the growing popularity of aging fish. I will stand here and say that when treated well, fresh fish is as good as it gets.
Now the methods you can use to fry fish are as plentiful as the fish in the sea. My go-to method is a simple light smear of yellow mustard and hot sauce, which acts as a binder, then goes straight to a “breading” of corn flour, cornmeal and seasoning. I really like this method unless I’m frying soft shell crabs, so I prefer AP flour.
Honestly, the ingredients you prefer for your batter are less important than the fat you fry your fish in. I love peanut oil, but if I had abundant access to rendered pork fat, beef tallow, or bear grease, I’d probably fry my fish. fish in some kind of melted animal fat.
Next, let’s talk about time and temperature. The size and density of the fish you are frying will determine the frying time and temperature. Thicker, denser fish like wahoo might need to be fried at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for longer. Whole panfish like perch or pudding (crappe) may need to be fried at 360 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Shaved catfish, which is popular in Louisiana, works best fried at 375 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for a crispy, chip-like texture.
Start with a fresh take that you’ve bled and glazed properly, beat it how you like it, use clean, hot fat, and you’ll be in the money. Once this fish is out of the grease and still sizzling, a pinch of sea salt and a squeeze of lemon juice is enough.