Fish fry is a popular American dish that is prepared by deep frying battered or bread crumb coated fish and it is usually accompanied by coleslaw, French fries, hushpuppies, tartar sauce, lemon slices, malt vinegar and a dessert (such as cookies & brownies). Potato pancakes and applesauce or sour cream are other accompaniments of this dish. There are various versions to this recipe, which is also popular in Europe and Asian countries, especially in India. Beer is the most common beverage that is served with fried fish. Other than being popular in America, “Fish and Chips” is a popular combination that is served during supper, in Britain, Scotland and Ireland.
Fish fry has been the most popular Friday food in American and other Roman Catholic countries, especially on Fridays, during Lent. This dish gained popularity in the Wisconsin region, because of the belief of German Catholics settled in this region that eating meat on Fridays was forbidden. With a large number of lakes around this area, fish was the next best alternative to meat; so, they fried the fish, caught in these lakes, in beer batter and served them accompanied by other popular German dishes. These days, the Friday night fish fry culture is popular all through the year, especially in the mid-western and northern regions of America.
Great Britain too is popular for its “Fish and Chips”, which is the most common meal of the working class people. It gained popularity around mid-19th century. Joseph Malin, a Jewish proprietor in London, was the one to open the first shop that specially sold ‘fish and chips’.
Ingredients and Preparation
Fish fry preparation varies slightly with each region. However, the most widely followed is the American battered version and catfish is the fish of choice. The fish fillets (around ¼ inch thick) dipped in milk and coated with the cornmeal mixture (cornmeal, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper) are kept aside for a few minutes, to dry and then shallow fried, till they turn golden brown. A little salt is sprinkled on the fillet while frying and when done, they are drained off excess oil and served with a drizzle of lemon juice and accompanied by certain dishes as specified above.
Note: Soaking the fillet in buttermilk for a couple of hours, takes away the muddy smell from them.
Suggested Types of Fish
- Catfish is the most common in America. Flounder, bass, and bream are the other choices.
- Cod and haddock are the popular choices in Britain, along with other white fish such as Pollock, skate, plaice, rock salmon and ray.
- Plaice, cod, whiting and ray are the common varieties used in Ireland.
- Reef cod, barramundi, flake and farmed basa are the popular varieties used in Australia.
Popular Fish Fry Recipes
Fish fry is one of the most popular dishes all across the world and the ingredients used in its preparation varies with every region.
Stamp & Go is part of Jamaican breakfast. This is a fish fritter dish that is generally served with callaloo fritters and ackee. This local fast food gets its name from the fact that people used to stamp their feet and then go to prepare the meal, while on fast.
Pescado frito, also known as Pescaito frito, is a Shabbat dish among the Andalusian Jews (of Portugal and Spain), inspired from the English fish & chips. This is believed to have originated around 16th century in these countries. They used vegetable oil to fry the fish, as it kept the fish crisp even when cold. This dish is till date consumed after the synagogue services held on Saturday mornings, more as brunch.
Indian Fish fry is spicier than its counter parts across the world. Instead of cornmeal, chick pea flour (popularly known as gram flour) is used for making battered fish. Another method of preparation is by coating the fillets with bread crumbs, after dipping them in egg mixture. In both the cases, certain spices and seasonings such as ground ginger-garlic, green chilies, turmeric powder, garam masala (similar to all spice), cumin seeds, lemon juice (drizzled on the fried fish), coriander leaves and spring onions for garnishing, are used in its preparation. They are served hot with hari chutney (green chutney), accompanied by a refreshing drink like Sol Kadi (Kokum in coconut milk or yogurt).
Trivia: Kokum is a sour dark brown colored local substitute to tamarind and used in most Indian preparations, where tanginess is required. It is considered very refreshing.
Note: Some Indian versions of fish fry include adding tamarind paste or kokum peels paste to the batter. A little rice four too is added, as it makes the fried fish crispier.