Buttermilk-Battered Panfried Fish Fillets
Source of Recipe
From "A Real Southern Cook in Her Savannah Kitchen" by Dora Charles
"A little buttermilk bath does wonders for fresh fish fillets such as catfish, flounder, trout, or grouper. Just half an hour in the buttermilk will sweeten the fish and keep it deliciously moist. In the old days, we'd fry the fish in Crisco, but now it's usually vegetable oil, with maybe a little bacon grease or butter for flavor. You have some options for the coating: self-rising flour with a little extra salt and pepper and a pinch of cayenne is classic, as is cornmeal mixed with salt and pepper. But you can even use Bisquick mix plus a little salt and cayenne. It's traditional to serve hushpuppies with the fish, along with tartar sauce and some lemon wedges to squeeze over the fish. Fried catfish also makes a great sandwich on a bun, with some shredded lettuce and rémoulade sauce."
List of Ingredients
◦ 1 quart buttermilk
◦ 1 ⅓ pounds fresh fish fillets (catfish, flounder, trout, or grouper), cut into serving pieces
◦ 1 cup self-rising flour, seasoned with salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne
◦ OR: 1 cup cornmeal or corn flour, seasoned with salt, pepper, and cayenne
◦ OR: 1 cup Bisquick, lumps pressed out with a fork and seasoned with salt and cayenne
◦ 1 scant cup vegetable oil, peanut oil, or lard, or more as needed
◦ 1 tablespoon bacon grease or butter
◦ Lemon wedges and tartar sauce, homemade or store-bought, for serving
Pour some of the buttermilk into a shallow baking dish and add the fish fillets; add more buttermilk as needed to completely cover all the fillets. Let them rest for half an hour.
Set the oven for 200 degrees to keep the first batch of fish hot. Warm a serving platter in the oven. Have ready a baking rack set on top of a baking sheet for draining the fish.
Put the seasoned flour (or cornmeal or Bisquick) on a plate or a small platter. One at a time, shake any extra buttermilk off each fillet and dip it into the flour on both sides, being sure it is covered, but not too thickly, then shake off any extra flour and lay the fillets on wax paper.
Heat a heavy skillet at least 10 inches wide over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add the oil or lard to a depth of ¼ inch, then add the bacon grease or butter. When the fat is sizzling, drop in half the fish. Fry until crisp and golden on the bottom, about 3 minutes, or longer for thicker fillets, then turn the pieces—just once!—with a long wide spatula and let crisp on the bottom. Drain on the rack and keep warm—still on the rack—in the oven until all the fish is cooked. Add more oil or lard to the pan if needed to fry the second batch, and make sure it's hot before adding the fish.
Serve on a platter surrounded with lemon wedges, with tartar sauce on the side.