There’s nothing like gathering your friends, family, and neighbors together on a hot summer evening in the great outdoors, even if it’s just your own backyard. Of course, if you’ve got plenty of people congregating together, you’ll need something to feed ‘em. And an Alabama fish fry is sure to please.
If you’ve got a trusty fryer and plenty of cooking oil, you can feed dozens of guests without sacrificing any quality in your product. The question is, which fish is the right one to batter, fry, and serve to your guests?
If you’re used to the same ol’ Catfish, Tilapia, or Trout, it’s time to freshen up your dinner menu with some delicious Alabama Gulf Seafood.
There are so many Gulf fish that could be used for a fish fry—any of them, really—but there are certain fish that are a perfect match with a good breading and a quick dip in the fryer. Here are seven of our favorites that will serve you well. Just make sure you get enough for everybody!
You may enjoy seeing this fish tossed on the beaches every spring, but you should try tossing them into a fryer for a change. They’re secretly quite tasty, so all you’ll need is some salt and pepper and then bread ‘em nicely for the fryer. One might say it’s the perfect fish for a fish fry.
Redfish (also called Red Drum) are among the most abundant fish in the Gulf, which bodes well if you’re inviting lots of guests. This fish packs a mild, sweet flavor into firm filets, and they shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg, so stock up and fry away.
If you’re a fan of Rainbow Trout or similar freshwater fish, you’ll love Gulf Seatrout as well. Whether you’re frying Silver Seatrout, Sand Seatrout, or Spotted Seatrout (our three prominent species), you’ll be working with thick, white filets that will hold together nicely while cooking.
A typical Sheepshead runs about three to five pounds, which means you’ll get a pair of perfect-sized filets from every catch. This underrated fish is a savvy choice, especially when it’s fried up golden brown, and your friends will love seeing photos of these odd-looking critters (and their human-esque teeth).
Okay, we’re cheating a little bit with this one. Technically it’s not a fish fry if you’re not serving fish, but how could we not recommend a bounty of fresh, golden-fried Gulf shrimp? Whether you can find Pink Shrimp, White Shrimp, or Brown Shrimp, you know you’re getting the good stuff.
Triggerfish were ignored by commercial fishermen decades ago, but they’re now considered among Alabama’s finest species. These filets are usually pretty light and thin, but they’re packed with a uniquely sweet flavor that makes them perfect for a simple breading mixture with salt and pepper.
Much like Mullet, Whiting is almost a tailor-made species for a Southern fish fry. They only weigh in around a couple pounds normally, and their mild flavor allows them to adapt to a variety of preparation techniques. Order up as many of these flaky white filets as you can find!
Now that you know which fish you want to try for your next fish fry, it’s time to plan the event. Thankfully, Chris Blankenship, the former program administrator for the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission, is an aficionado of the fish fry, and he broke down his process for us a couple years ago. Read Chris’s tips for the perfect Alabama fish fry and then get cooking!