Southern Fish Fry Tacos

Growing up my dad would take my brother and me fishing during the summer. He always had these grand ideas of catching a huge catfish and us eating it for dinner. Every time he would bring a cooler with this goal in mind, and every single time we didn’t catch a catfish to cook. A couple of times someone downriver had more than enough and gave us some, but we as a family weren’t looking so hot.

I like to imagine these tacos are the dream scenario of what we would have cooked if our family fishing skills were worth a damn.

They consist of cornmeal crusted catfish, tartar sauce made with southern chow chow relish, and a honey mustard lemon pepper slaw on a yellow corn tortilla. All these flavors are so classic summer in the deep south, and the harmony between spicy and crispy fish, creamy and tangy tartar sauce, and the little bit of sweet from the crunchy slaw gets more R-rated noises out of me than any dish I know.

Chow Chow Tartar Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 tbsp southern chow chow relish, or your favorite pickle relish if ypu can’t find chow chow
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Small pinch sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients together and set aside for taco assembly.

Honey Mustard Lemon Pepper Slaw Ingredients:

  • 2 cups tri-color slaw mix
  • Juice 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp honey (bonus points if you use chili infused aka hot honey)
  • A fat pinch of salt

Again mix everything together and set aside to put on your tacos.

Cornmeal-Crusted Fish Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs fish filets (catfish is best, but tilapia or any meaty white fish works) cut to fit your tortillas
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp your favorite hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 tbsp old bay seasoning
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2-2 tsp cayenne depending on how hot you like it
  • Salt and pepper
  • Oil for frying
  • Yellow corn tortillas, heated

Get three separate plates/bowls ready. Pour your flour into one. Beat the eggs and hot sauce together in another. And finally mix the cornmeal, old bay, cayenne, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, and a fat pinch of salt and pepper together in the third.

In whatever you’re frying your fish in add enough oil to come about two inches up the pan. Heat the oil to 375 degrees.

Lightly season the fish with salt and pepper. First dredge both sides on the flour, then dunk it in the egg mixture, making sure you let any excess drip off. Finally dredge both sides into the cornmeal mixture. Place your filets into the oil (you’re going to need to work in batches) and cook until golden brown, about three to five minutes. Lightly hit the fish with some salt as they come out of the fry oil.

For assembly hit your tortilla with a schmear of the tartar sauce, then a piece of fish, and finally add a mound of the slaw. Next try not to eat 10 in one sitting.

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