fish fry
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How to have the perfect summer fish fry

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Tired of dinner parties? Bored with barbecues? If you’re looking for a new kind of food event to shake up your regular cookout routine, it’s time to throw a good ‘ol fashioned fish fry. This tradition is all about community—bringing family, friends, and neighbours together to bond over deep fried deliciousness. It’s casual fun, and makes great use of fresh local food. Here are all the elements you’ll need for ultimate fish fry.

The equipment

The ideal appliance for a proper fish-fry is an outdoor deep-fryer. It’s the fastest, easiest, most consistent way to cook your fish for larger groups of people. You can pick up a reasonably priced model from any store that sells cooking appliances, like Walmart or Canadian Tire. Just make it comes with built-in fry baskets or things will get messy and dangerous very quickly. If you’re hosting an intimate gathering and you don’t want to splurge on a new gadget you can always pan-fry your fish over a propane barbecue or campfire.

The fish

It’s always tastiest to go fresh and local when making your fish selection. Dry whitefish are great options because they coat easily and won’t fall apart in the fryer. Walleyes, pikes, bass or panfish are all great choices. If you’re planning on catching the main course yourself, be sure to brush up on your cleaning/gutting skills. You’ll need a butter knife to tackle the scales, a fillet knife to remove the guts, and kitchen shears to cut off the gills. This step-by-step guide is easy to follow, even for fishing newbies. Once you’ve properly prepped your fish, store it on ice or place it in the fridge until it’s fryer-bound.

The grease

For deep-frying you need oil with a high smoking point that won’t break down (or burst into flames!) at temperatures higher than 350 degrees. Stay far, far away from olive oils, butter, margarine or pure animal fat. To achieve that perfect golden crisp on your fish, choose peanut, sunflower, or canola oil. The ideal frying temperature is 375 degrees, and most store-bought deep fryers will have a built it temperature gauge. If you’re working with something a little more rustic, you can pick up a separate grease thermometer.

The recipes

So you’ve got your fancy fry set-up rollin’ and you’re crisping up some fantastic-looking fish. But what’s the most delicious way to get it on the plate? The options are nearly endless! You can keep it simple with fish n’ chips, assemble a crispy sandwich, set up a fish taco bar or bust out some fancy condiments.

The sides

Any number of classic summer sides will compliment your expertly fried fish—coleslaw, green salads, potato salads, pasta salads, and French fries are all perfect fits. But don’t try to take everything on yourself. The casual atmosphere of a fish fry is perfect for a potluck. If every guest shows up with one dish, you’ll have enviable feast with minimal effort.

The drinks

Every good cookout needs a wide selection of libations and a fish fry is no exception. Beer is of course mandatory, but you’ll want to make sure lighter variations, like lagers and ales, are available, since they pair nicely with fish. Wine drinkers should stick with whites, preferably something dry like a Sauvignon Blanc or bubbly like a Proseco. If you’re thinking of serving cocktails, mix up something with a nice balance of acidity and sweetness that makes use of popular summer flavours like fresh citrus. Mojitos and Lemon Drops are both wonderfully refreshing.