Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
- 4 single-serving size fish, such as perch or rock cod
- Kosher salt
- Chickpea (or other) flour for dredging
- 2-3 cups canola or peanut oil
- Lemon wedges
Make sure the fish are scaled and gutted. If you have whole fish, instructions for scaling and gutting are linked below. I leave the heads on because it keeps the meat moister, and there are delicious morsels of meat on the cheeks. You can cut the heads off if you'd rather.
Wash the fish inside and out, then pat dry. With a sharp knife, make 3 or 4 up-and-down slashes in the side of the fish; this lets the hot oil get deeper into the fish so it cooks faster and more evenly.
Salt the fish well and set aside for at least 10 minutes.
Heat oil in a deep-fryer, or a large pot, or better yet, a wok. I use a wok so I don't need to use as much oil. The fish sit in the wok with the tails sticking out so the tails don't get burned to a crisp.
When the oil reaches about 300 degrees, turn the heat down so it stays there.
Dredge your fish in the chickpea flour, which you can find at most good supermarkets in the ethnic section. If not, look for it in a Middle Eastern market or an Italian deli, where it is called ceci flour. If you can't find chickpea flour, other flour will do.
Shake off the excess flour and slip the fish into the pot. You might be able to get 2 in at once, but you will likely need to fry in batches. If so, turn your oven on to "warm" and put a plate with a paper towel on it inside.
The fish will need about 10 minutes total cooking time, depending on how wide they are: Pompano, bluegill and porgies need less time because they are skinny, where rock cod or black seabass may need a bit more. I like to go 6-7 minutes on one side to get it nice and brown, then 3-4 on the other just to finish up. Serve with the browner side up.
When each fish are done, put it on the plate in the oven until the remainder are finished.
To serve, give each person a fish with some lemon wedges, and serve this with a hearty salad, roasted potatoes, French fries or really anything you'd like. A tip: Bring a bowl to the table for bones.