We’re not in the “frying makes everything better” camp, as we know that sometimes potatoes should be roasted and chicken should be grilled—but some foods take to a hot bath of oil more than others, and one of those foods is seafood.
Whether paired with a crunchy slaw in tacos or served whole to dig into with chopsticks (or fingers), fried fish is homey but exciting, unadorned but perfect as is. And fish isn’t the only seafood that shines after frying—soft shell crab, calamari, and shrimp can also benefit from a quick dip in batter and oil. Crabs, shrimp, and trout spend their lives submerged in water; to submerge them in oil is only natural. (Right?) Just serve them with something that will combat their richness, like a crispy collard slaw or a tart chile sauce, and crack open a beer—there’s no better summer meal.
Jose Garces’ Fish Tacos
Chef Steven Brown uses pumpernickel rolls for this “punk rock sandwich with a $25 cleaning bill;” but you could use any roll you like.
Get the recipe for Trout “Reuben” »
A crisp collard slaw and tangy tartar and cocktail sauces top pan-fried softshell crabs in this classic sandwich.
Get the recipe for Softshell Crab Sandwich with Collard Slaw »
The fish for these tacos fries up golden brown thanks to a bottle of dark beer in the batter.
This recipe for fresh, light fish tacos is great for a crowd; while you fry the fish, put your dining companions to work making the cabbage, pico de gallo, lime crema, and guacamole.
In Malaysia, this pan-fried fish dish is typically made with stingray filets, but any six to ten-inch whole fish will do.
Charred tomatoes and chiles add a deep smoky note to the salsa for these fresh fish tacos—either flounder or halibut works well.
Get the recipe for Fish Tacos with Roasted Tomato Salsa »
Fiery sriracha sauce and fresh herbs and cucumbers balance the richness of chef Tom Colicchio’s fried calamari sandwich.
Writer VK Sreelesh’s in-laws live in the south Indian state of Kerala, along the Malabar Coast, where people’s diets are heavily influenced by the area’s abundant supply of seafood. One of his favorite dishes is this fried bullseye fish, seasoned with turmeric and chile powder and fried in coconut oil. While small bullseye fish or sardines are traditionally used, salmon, shrimp, or snapper, as we’ve used here, also work.
Chef Jim Leiken of DBGB in New York City serves pesto-spiked mayonnaise as a dipping sauce for fried calamari, cauliflower, and chickpeas.
A popular snack along Senegal’s coast where seafood is plentiful, small fried hand pies are filled with a spicy herb and fish filling. Serve them with
Sosu Kaani, a spicy Senegalese sauce of chiles and tomato.
This recipe was given to us by Lonnee Hamilton, who recommends spooning some bacon grease into the frying oil to give the fish a smokier flavor.
A thin batter of salt cod, garlic, and onions is shallow-fried to make fine, crisp chips.
These crisp-edged fritters get their earthy flavor from chickpea flour.
Get the recipe for Shrimp Fritters (Tortillitas de Camarones) »
Deep-frying seafood in a good-quality extra-virgin olive oil imparts fruity, peppery flavors and creates an incredibly delicate crust.
A tangy cabbage slaw and a drizzle of remoulade accompany these luscious sandwiches.
Cheng Lee Chin-o makes a number of stuffings for milkfish, her favorite fish. Sometimes she smears garlic on the filets before tying them together with dried sea grass; other times, she’ll stuff them with a paste made from some of the fish’s innards. For this recipe, she used just the liver.
Fried fish with a brown butter sauce and almonds is a French classic, and one of the most popular dishes at the beloved New Orleans restaurant Galatoire’s.
Salt cod does double duty in this fritter topped with piquant cod salsa.