I purchased whole (gutted) Pomano from the 99 Ranch Market. They are nice and small and I am considering frying them. Because I have never fried fish before, I'd appreciate any advise from those who are experienced fish fryers. TIA :)
There is a rest. down the rode from me that would take them just like they are and bread them and fry em whole. Personally, I like mine fileted(?sp) first.
The best prepared fish breading that I've had is Zatarain's- it's a south Louisiana company. Don't know if you can get it where you are if you aren't in the south.
If you are going to deep fry them wou will want a temp of about 375. (Be careful- seen some fire and injuries while deep frying.)
I assume the op meant Pompano, which I have caught but never fried. However, if Pompano IS a good candidate for frying, I concur with your Zatarain's reccomendation but would add look for the lemon added version - it has a lemon on the box. This is our standard fry, good for shrimp and fish. I would fry at 350 degrees until the fish floats.
99 Ranch will deep fry it for you. All you have to do is come up with a great sauce for it, and reheat in the oven. Just make sure you do it within a few hours of getting home from the market. Some Chinese-inspired thoughts include:
-with a red garlic/chili/vinegar sauce
-topped with mabo tofu
-pour a combo of soy/green onions/ginger over the top
I saw the sale on pompano too. I might buy it for dinner tonight. While it is true that 99 Ranch will deep fry it for you, your mileage may vary, since 99 Ranch doesn't change the oil they fry with until it is close to the point of breaking down. Also, they do not salt your fish before or after frying. And even with re-baking, you never get the fish as crisp as it was when it came right out of the fryer.
What I do to fry it myself is simple. Once home, I take the fish and score it deep until my knife hits the bone. I usually make vertical scores, about a half inch apart.
Then in a wide bowl or deep plate (salad bowl is perfect) I pour about a tablespoon of salt, a tablespoon of garlic powder and about six tablespoons of water. Swirl to even out the slurry.
I then roll the fish around in the slurry. Keeping it there while I heat the biggest wok I have, with enough corn or peanut oil that will cover the fish.
BTW, if you can, do your frying outside, i.e. if you have a side stove hooked up to your gas BBQ. You will avoid smelling up your house and possible oil spattering.
Once the oil is heated through (make sure it is really hot), take the fish out of the slurry. Shake to remove excess liquid. Then carefully slide the fish slowly into the wok away from your face.
Now, comes the important part. With tongs or a long spatula, slide the fish back and forth in the oil for a few seconds (try not to slosh the oil around too much though). The idea is to keep it moving for that critical first 20 seconds or else the protein in the skin touching the bottom of the wok will fuse to the steel before the heat has a chance to cook it.
Once this is done, leave the fish alone to fry. Check for the underside for doneness (GB&D - golden brown and delicious) every two minutes. Once the underside is GB&D, flip the fish carefully (again, flip away from you) and let cook on the other side until it is GB&D.
Once both sides have attained the crisp, golden brown appearance, take the fish out and drain on a wire strainer or on a couple of wooden chopsticks on a plate.
I'd avoid putting the fish on paper towels because the flesh will have a tendency of sticking to it.
I usually serve it with white steamed rice, and sauteed chinese veggies, like baby bok choy with oyster sauce, or spinach stir fried with garlic.
A nice Vietnamese nouc mam or Thai bottled sweet chili sauce would also go well with the fish.
Oh man, I always have 99 Ranch or Lion Market (here in the Bay Area) do the frying of whole fish for me, for free mind you. Ask for #6 "crispy fry". And yes, do keep it in a warm oven till you're ready to eat.
It's so not worth the amount of oil you'd have to use/store & definitely not worth the greasy-fried-fish-smell in your house(& clothes) that lingers for hours....sometimes days. Also for me, the smallest amount of smoke/heat that wafts to the ceiling sets off our smoke alarm, so it's just not an option. Our hood vent sucks, no pun intended.
If you have a "plug-in" style deep fryer, I suggest using it outdoors.
But as far as something to have with simple fried fish I either like a Vietnamese "nuoc cham" I make at home or just a bottle of Filipino banana sauce "Jufran - hot" I get from 99/Lion. I serve it simply with rice.
The recipe below isn't one I have used myself (I just eyeball everything for my nuoc cham) but the ingredients are correct and the proportions sound right.