Thursday, April 21, 2011

Southern Food - Fish Fries

Have you enjoyed the experience known as the “fish fry”? If you’re unfamiliar with the term, allow me to explain. A fish fry – here in the South, at least – is an outdoor gathering where lots of fish are fried in a big pot over a gas cooker. Along with the fish, other food items are often cooked in the grease, too. Of course, here, it’s always Southern food: homemade hushpuppies, fried Idaho taters, and/or fried sweet taters. On a separate burner, there’s usually a big pot of grits or cheese grits to go with the fried fish.

Southern fish fries range in size, but they’re usually attended by a good number of guests. Most people save up enough fish in their freezer until they get enough for a big party. Of course, some folks luck up and catch enough fish on one fishing trip to host a large fish fry. Most people who are invited to the fish fry bring a dish. There has to be a lot of coleslaw and sweet iced tea. Other than that, any Southern food is apropos. These might include potato salad, pasta salad, tossed salad, vegetable casseroles, or fruit salads. If the fish fry takes place when fresh vegetables are coming in, some squash, zucchini, eggplant, or green tomatoes might be cooked in the hot oil. There are usually lots of desserts involved, too.

So…what kinds of fish are appropriate for a fish fry? Well, what kind do you have? Oftentimes, more than one species of fish is cooked at a Southern fish fry. The exception might be crappie. When you have a successful crappie fishing trip, it’s usually very successful! The same usually hold true for saltwater fishing for whiting. Otherwise, the fish fry might consist of a mixture of bream, bass, catfish, grouper, mullet, speckled trout, redfish, shark, croaker, and/or snapper. The fish might be dressed or filleted.

The weather is getting just about right for outdoor events like fish fries! Why not host your own? Just call up all your friends and family members and invite them over. Ask everyone to bring a side dish and some lounge chairs or camp chairs. Go out and buy a bunch of peanut oil, thaw out your fish, and get crackin’!

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