After fishing all weekend long, there’s nothing better than rounding up all your family, friends and neighbors for a good ol’ down home southern fish fry to enjoy nature’s bounty.
Though a fish fry is a casual event, there are a few things to consider in order to keep things authentic. Here are 8 steps to hosting a traditional southern fish fry:
1. Hit the water
Traditionally, catfish is the ideal choice for a fish fry. It’s mild without an overly fishy taste, but firm enough to be battered and fried. Flounder, bass or bream are also good alternatives.
A good rule of thumb is 1/2 to one pound of fish per person. And since there’s no way to really know where you food comes from unless you catch it yourself, grab your poles and hit the water.
2. Invest in a deep fryer
With a large amount of fish to fry, you’ll want to invest in a quality deep fryer. Since half the fun is enjoying the warm weather, opt for an outdoor fryer. At the end of the day, you’ll be glad your house doesn’t smell like deep-fried fish.
I like this outdoor gourmet propane fish fry cart. It has two burners and baskets, so you can either fry twice the amount of fish or fry up your fixins’ at the same time as your fish is cooking.
3. Speaking of fixins’
It might be a fish fry, but you’ll need more than just fish. For an authentic southern shindig, you’ll need a few traditional sides. Think french fries, onion rings, hush puppies and, of course, cole slaw.
4. Break out the paper
Part of the beauty of a fish fry is the limited cleanup. Ditch the fancy tableware and break out the paper plates, napkins, and plastic utensils. While you’re at it, lay some old newspapers or brown paper bags out on top of some picnic tables.
5. Get a little sauce-y
In theory, the fish will be so delicious that you don’t need to add anything. In reality, people love their condiments. Though any hot sauce will do, I personally like to have a bottle of Texas Pete on hand pretty much all the time.
You should also make sure you have tartar sauce, vinegar, ketchup, lemon wedges, pickles and maybe even cocktail sauce.
6. Wash it down
Bottom line, you can’t have a traditional southern fish fry without two things: beer and sweet tea. Fish pairs best with light ales and lagers.
For good measure, you could also whip up a pitcher of ice cold lemonade.
7. Let the games begin
You’ll need to fry the fish in batches, which will take some time. And since a traditional fish fry is all about coming together, celebrating life and just having an all around good time, give your guests something to do to pass the time.
Crank up the tunes, pull out the cornhole boards, sling some horseshoes, and let your hair down!
8. End on a sweet note
With a belly full of southern fried delicacies and cold beer, there’s only thing left to do. Send your guests home on a sweet note, by serving up a classic southern dessert.
Since you’ve probably been in the sun all day, stick to something cool and refreshing. Banana pudding or homemade peach ice cream are two of my favorites.
Follow these eight simple steps and your traditional southern fish fry will be the talk of everyone’s summer.