Pan-fried fish uses just a thin layer of hot oil or shortening in a skillet and a light flour or cornmeal coating on the fish instead of a batter. It is a bit simpler, less messy, and more healthful than deep-frying.
For four servings, choose 1 pound of skinless fish fillets, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Any fillets will work, including mild-flavor whitefish, cod, flounder, red snapper, and orange roughy. If frozen, thaw the fillets in the refrigerator. A 1-pound package will thaw in 1 to 2 days.
Rinse the fillets and pat dry with paper towels. Transfer fillets to a cutting board and cut them into four pieces using a sharp knife.
If desired, serve the pan-fried fish with lemon wedges and Tartar Sauce.
For deep-fried fish, dip pieces of fish in a beer batter or several coatings of egg and seasoned flour before frying to a crisp golden brown.
Prep the Fish
For four servings, buy 1 pound fresh or frozen skinless fillets, cut 1/2 inch thick. If frozen, thaw the fish in the refrigerator. Cut the fillets into 3x2-inch pieces. Rinse the fish and pat dry with papers towels.
Heat the Oil
You will need a 3-quart heavy saucepan or deep-fat fryer for frying the fish. Attach a deep-frying thermometer to the side of the pan. Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil to 375 degrees F. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Make the Batter
Fry the Fish
Fry the fish, two or three pieces at a time, in the hot oil until the coating is golden and fish begins to flake when tested with a fork, turning once. This takes about 3 or 4 minutes per batch. Drain the fish on paper towels, flipping the fish to drain both sides. Transfer fish to a baking sheet and keep it warm in the oven while frying the remaining fish.
Serve the Fish
If desired, sprinkle the fried fish with coarse salt and serve with Tartar Sauce or drizzle with malt vinegar.
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