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What Is Fried Fish?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Fried fish typically refers to any type of fish that is cooked by frying it, rather than through grilling, baking, or other types of cooking. Such fish can be fried by itself, though it is quite common for the fish to be battered or otherwise coated prior to being fried. The nature of such batter or coating often changes based on local or cultural culinary traditions, though both heavy and light batters are common. Fried fish may be eaten alone, often accompanied by various side dishes, or used in other applications such as sandwiches and tacos.

There are many different ways in which fried fish can be made, though in general the fish is typically prepared through frying in hot oil. This can be a shallow fry, in which the fish is only slightly exposed to the oil and must be flipped at least once during cooking. Deep frying can also be done using fish, and this is quite common for fish that has been battered or otherwise treated with some type of coating. While fried fish can also be made using butter rather than oil, the common use of butter for cooking fish makes such preparations similar to grilled or baked fish.

Prior to being fried, many pieces of fish are treated with some type of batter or other coating to provide greater flavor and texture for the fish. Dry coatings, such as bread crumbs or crushed cereal, are fairly common and provide the fried fish with a crispy and crunchy exterior. Batter dipped fish that is fried typically has a lighter, crispier exterior that can vary depending on the nature of the batter. Heavy batters, such as those that use beer, often produce a thicker coating after frying, while light batters, such as those used in making tempura, result in a thin and often airy coating.

Fried fish can be used in making a number of different dishes. Among the most famous is “fish and chips,” which typically consists of fish that has been battered and fried and served with French fries, often in a paper bag or wrapped in newspaper. Fish sandwiches are commonly made using fried fish, typically served between two pieces of bread or atop a bun. Tacos can also be made using such fish; they are typically made using soft tortillas, cabbage, diced red onions, and a creamy sauce.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Cageybird — On Apr 14, 2014

I love going to seafood restaurants that feature a "fish fry" on certain nights. They will fry many different kinds of fish, some of which is locally caught. They'll also offer some baked fish as a healthier alternative. Fried catfish is by far the most popular, but I like fried bass and fried ocean perch, too.

By RocketLanch8 — On Apr 13, 2014

A lot of the frozen fish sticks and fish fillets I buy from the grocery store have already been partially fried. I'll bake them in the oven until the coating is crispy, but I consider them to be oven fried fish, not baked fish. I prefer a dry coating on individual fish sticks, but a batter coating on larger fish fillets.

If I'm deep frying fresh fish, I will usually go with a very light fried fish batter. They call it Calabash style around here. It's not a heavy batter like fish and chips.

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