When making a small amount of fried fish at home, I go the simple pan-fried route. It's easier, and there is no messing around with all of that hot oil and lingering odors.
For the coating, I dip the fillets in a bit of egg white and then simply dredge them in seasoned flour. If I want to use a wet batter for coating the fish, I prefer one that is on the thin side, like tempura, which is thinner than pancake batter.
When we host an annual fish fry for a group of friends, there's a ton of fish to get ready, so all of the frying is done outside. That also takes care of the odor issue.
We dip the fish (perch or walleye) in a thin, wet batter using Drake's Crispy Fry Mix, which many restaurants use. We even use the mix dry on some pieces.
Once the fish is fried, we keep it warm in foil pans on the grill over low heat.
We've even mastered the art of making a whole lot of chips. We thinly slice Yukon Gold potatoes (skin on), soak them in ice water for an hour or so, drain them and pat them dry. Then we fry them up and season them with sea salt or a seasoning blend.
Finally, a fish fry demands tartar sauce and cole slaw. You can use store-bought or make your own. See the cook's note in today's recipe for making tartar sauce.
> Pan-Fried Perch with Slaw
3/4 pound perch fillets
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 large egg white
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup crushed panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning or more to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon Morton's Nature Seasons Seasoning Blend
1/4 cup canola oil
For serving (see note)
Cole slaw (homemade or store-bought)
Rinse the fish fillets and pat dry. If they are large, cut them to desired size.
Season on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the egg white in a bowl and beat.
In a pie plate, combine the flour, panko, Old Bay seasoning and Morton's seasoning blend.
In a large skillet, heat the canola oil. Working in batches, dip the fillets in the egg white, allowing the excess to drip off, then dredge in the flour mixture, coating the fish on both sides.
Place the fish in the skillet and fry on one side until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Flip and fry on the other side another 3 minutes, depending on thickness .
Place on paper towel-lined platter, cover and keep warm. Repeat with remaining fillets.
Serve with a dollop of tartar and slaw.
Cook's note: To make tartar sauce, whisk together 2 tablespoons white vinegar, 1 1/4 cups reduced-fat mayonnaise, 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Fold in 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions, 1/2 cup chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons relish, 3 tablespoons capers that have been drained, rinsed well and chopped, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.