This easy and popular recipe can also be used for pan frying catfish and other small fish, but our family prefers tilapia or trout. We have to make a tall platter full, because it is a crowd pleaser in our home. It’s very easy. I usually make this recipe using coconut oil, used for frying the fish and also (with a little more oil sometimes added) a batch of Sweet Hush Puppies. To make the Southern Sweet Hugh Puppies combine two eggs, 1/2 cup of sugar (or less, if you don’t like your cornbread to be sweet), a large finely chopped onion, a cup of flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, a pinch of cream of tartar, a cup of cornmeal, and a pinch of salt; then the batter is dropped by a spoon into hot oil and fried until golden brown. Add sides of a rice dish (saffron?) and almond green beans or a baked potato and salad; voila! You’ve got a fine feast. Here’s how to fry the fish:
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 cups finely ground cornmeal
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
- 2+ cups coconut or other vegetable oil, for frying
- 1-2 pounds tilapia fillets (or other fish fillets)
- In a small bowl, combine milk and lemon juice. Let sit on counter at least five minutes, while assembling other ingredients.
- In a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, combine cornmeal, flour, and Cajun seasoning.
- Add salt and pepper to the milk/lemon juice mixture. (This is my homemade buttermilk substitute; you may use buttermilk instead, though).
- Rinse the fillets in water and then drop them into the milk mixture, coating well. Let them sit in the buttermilk mixture.
- Put coconut oil (or vegetable oil) in cast iron skillet and heat to approximately 365 degrees Fahrenheit. (Use enough oil for there to be a minimum of 1/2 inch of oil in your skillet. Larger skillets may require more than two cups of oil and may be able to fry more than three fillets at a time.)
- Remove three fillets from the milk mixture and put into the Ziploc bag. Gently roll the bag to coat the fillets well.
- Place fillets in hot oil and fry about three minutes; turn over and fry a minute or two on other side, until golden.
- Remove fillets to paper toweling to drain.
- Repeat the process of removing fillets from milk, coating with cornmeal mixture, and frying, three at a time.
- Fry Hush Puppies, if desired, as described above.
- Enjoy crispy-coated, moist fish!
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