Recipe of the Week: Fried Tilapia, from Mrs. Latimer

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:

Ingredients:

  • 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)

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine milk and lemon juice. Let sit on counter at least five minutes, while assembling other ingredients.
  2. In a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, combine cornmeal, flour, and Cajun seasoning.
  3. Add salt and pepper to the milk/lemon juice mixture. (This is my homemade buttermilk substitute; you may use buttermilk instead, though).
  4. Rinse the fillets in water and then drop them into the milk mixture, coating well. Let them sit in the buttermilk mixture.
  5. 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.)
  6. Remove three fillets from the milk mixture and put into the Ziploc bag. Gently roll the bag to coat the fillets well.
  7. Place fillets in hot oil and fry about three minutes; turn over and fry a minute or two on other side, until golden.
  8. Remove fillets to paper toweling to drain.
  9. Repeat the process of removing fillets from milk, coating with cornmeal mixture, and frying, three at a time.
  10. Fry Hush Puppies, if desired, as described above.
  11. Enjoy crispy-coated, moist fish!

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