I watched a cooking network program by Trisha Yearwood a few Saturdays ago which inspired us to host an Ashland Neighborhood Fish Fry over Memorial Day week-end. On the TV program, Trisha demonstrated how to prepare and fry catfish in a small, stand alone fryer in the backyard. Fire, hot oil, outdoors…just up RM’s alley. After purchasing a couple of huge bags of “irregular” catfish fillets at our local Fiesta, I thawed out the fish in the refrigerator. I then cut up each fillet into same size portions so they would cook evenly in the fryer – I would call them plank size. I then put them in a plastic container, poured 2% milk and some heavy cream over them, put a lid on the container and put it back in the refrigerator for 24 hours to do its thing. Trisha says the milk helps to tame the fishy taste that you sometimes get when eating these bottom feeders. I then drained the small fillet chunks well on paper towels, dredged them in yellow cornmeal and a bit of sea salt, and placed them on a foil lined cookie tray.
Catfish ready for the fryer.
Meanwhile RM hooked up the propane tank to the fryer, filled it with a bottle and a half of canola oil (side of fryer states that it holds three quarts of oil), heated up the oil to 350 degrees (it comes with its own handy dandy temperature gauge) in the middle of our front driveway (perfectly safe).
Here is a picture of the fryer I ordered online — it is called the Bayou Basic and you can get one for less than $50 on sale.
RM and his assistants including C3 first fried a bunch of french fries using our neighbors industrial strength french fry cutter. This tool is massive and extremely effective at executing its primary function – taking a whole scrubbed potato and splitting into perfectly sized fries in one quick motion. We will be borrowing this inventive device again.
After the fries, into the oil bath went the fish for about 5 minutes. It fried the planks up quickly and to a nice even, crispy brown shade of goodness. The cornmeal adhered nicely and neighbors seemed to enjoy both the fish and the fries as RM cooked multiple batches. The fish was especially tasty hot out of the oil with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Along with the fish, neighbors brought an assortment of delicious side dishes and desserts which we all enjoyed tasting on just a perfectly beautiful, breezy evening on the front lawn of our home. The shade from the big sycamore tree made for a relaxing and enjoyable evening with friends, family, and our cherished neighbors. Let’s do it again soon.