I really should call this Nigerian street style fried fish. Those of us who grew up back home are familiar with fried fish stands. Hot, crispy fried fish straight out of bubbling oil unto news paper. I remember a particular stand that was close to my lesson, I loved loved the lady’s fried fish. I read on Aunty Funke’s blog a while ago that the traditional fish used in Nigeria called Yoyo is actually smelt. I was pleasantly surprised when I found fresh smelt in my local grocery store.
This is what the typical fried fish stand looks like:
I honestly never thought to do a fried fish recipe to be honest with you guys, some things I just thought were a little too straight forward for a recipe. But boy was I wrong, I had about 3 fried fish recipe request in the space of one week. I love this guys! If there is a recipe that you need me to do, please never hesitate to ask.
The bone of contention seems to be how to make the fish crispy enough as well as reduce the dangerous oil spatter that occurs. Both issues result from one thing, excess water in the fish being fried. When you want to fry crispy fish, you need to rid the fish of most if not all water first.
Whether using fresh or frozen fish, the process is very similar. If the fish is frozen, you want to completely thaw it by leaving it at room temperature (faster but not the safest method) or by leaving it in the fridge. Depending on the size of the fish, it might take between 24-48 hours for the fish to completely thaw.Do remember that fish like whitening especially have very high water content even after being thawed.
After the fish has been completely thawed or if using fresh fish, you want to rest the fish on some paper towel for about 1 hour before you start frying. This process significantly reduces spatter and helps to ensure the resulting fried fish is crispy.
If you are a member of #fitfam, you might want to skip the deep frying and try our crispy oven fried fish recipe; it’s just as sinful.
Tip: to get rid of the lingering smell of fried fish in your home, boil equal parts water and vinegar. You can add in some orange peel as well.
Lets get to the recipe shall we.
Prep the fish
- If using frozen fish, start by thawing the fish for 24-48 hours (in the fridge) or about 12 hours at room temeperature.
- Line a tray or bowl with paper towel and gently arrange the fish pieces on. Sprinkle some salt on all sides (salt further helps with water extraction). Leave to rest for another hour.
- Whole fish (if using smaller fish) or cut up fish steaks
- Salt and maggi – to taste
- Pepper powder – to taste
- Flour, cornmeal or semolina (Not required if using fish for stew)
- Vegetable or canola oil – for frying
- Pour oil into a deep pot, place on medium-high heat. Heat until very hot. (or set deep fryer to 350F)
- Season prepped fish with salt, maggi and pepper. Set aside
- Combine flour, cornmeal or semolina with some salt and maggi. Set aside
- Handfuls at a time add fish into flour mix. Toss well to coat. Remove fish and shake off any loose coating. Drop coated fish in hot oil and fry until golden.
- Repeat step until all the fish is fried.