1. Mind your oil temperature
Oil temperature is the most important factor in a successful fish fry. Heavy metal pots like cast iron and a large quantity of oil help keep the temperature consistent through the entire process. 370° F is the target temperature. Oil temps below 350° will lead to soggy, oily fish, and oil temps above 390° can cause breading to burn.
Pro Tip— Using an infrared thermometer is a great way to easily and accurately monitor oil temp. A unit like the one pictured can be found online for about $12.
2. Use Clean Oil
Use clean oil. Buy in bulk to save money. Turkey fryer peanut oil blends work well, as does canola and other refined oils. Just don’t try to reuse it.
3. Lose the bones!
Clean your fillets free of bones and remove those mud lines. For many people, a few bones can ruin or take away from the experience.
Pro Tip—If they are big fillets, cut them into pieces at an angle so you get lots of surface area and more of those delicious crispy edges.
4. Go the Dry Breading Route
Dry breading provides a light coating that many like and does not overwhelm the flavor of the fish. For a great dry batter, beat one egg into a cup of milk and wash the fillets in the mixture before shaking them in a zip top bag full of your favorite breading. Shore Lunch® brand breading is also a great choice.
5. Or soak it in beer
For beer batter, use two freezer bags, one with dry batter and one with a wet beer batter mixture. Shake the fillets in the dry batter then place them in the wet batter.
Pro Tip— After your fillets are battered, place them on a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil (to prevent sticking), and put them into the freezer for 10-15 minutes before frying. The cold dry air in the freezer helps set the batter on to the fillets and leads to a more consistent coating.
6. Drain on Paper Towels
Drain the fish on paper towels to remove excess oil.
7. Salt right away
Dust with salt immediately after frying.
8. Keep Checking that oil temp
Just because the oil hits your desired temp, it doesn’t mean it stays there. Every time you place fish or french fries in the oil, the temperature instantly drops. Once you pull the food out of the oil (and as it cooks), the temp rises rapidly. Make sure to check your temp each time you drop new fish into the oil.
9. Enjoy it while it’s fresh
Serve and eat them quickly while the batter is still crispy.