"Panfish" are non-saltwater fish like bass, bluegill, and/or crappies. If you like VERY MILD FISH which is crunchy on the outside and flakey-white and moist on the inside, then this recipe is for you. It's not at all greasy, as long as you don't go short on the Crisco and as long as you get your Crisco hot enough. And the idea of dusting the fillets with flour prior to the "drench" and "dredge" prevents the coating from falling off while frying. I primarily use this particular recipe for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and, Kentucky spotted bass; however, it's also perfect for nice-sized white bass or, even for bluegill (bream) or crappie fillets if you shorten the cooking time to account for the smaller fillets. The time listed does not account for marinating time.
- 24 ounces bass fillets, 4 ounces each
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 3⁄4 cup yellow cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt, for dredge
- 2 large eggs, for drench
- 1⁄2 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 cups vegetable shortening (I use only Crisco!)
- 2 teaspoons table salt, for marinade
- 1 quart water, for marinade and drench
- Allow the fillets to marinade in salt water (use all the quart of water except for 4 tablespoons), using the table salt, for 3 hours in the refrigerator.
- After marination, pat the fillets very dry with paper towels. Pour one cup of the flour into a small paper bag and drop in the fillets, one at a time, and coat them lightly, shaking off any excess flour. Reserve this flour for later use. Lay the fillets out on a piece of wax paper and allow them to sit for 20 minutes.
- In a large skillet, heat the shortening until a few small drops of water crackle loudy in it.
- Using a fork or whisk, beat the eggs and the 4 tablespoons of water together in a medium-sized bowl for at least 20 seconds and set aside. This will be your "drench".
- Mix together the flour from the bag, all remaining flour (1 cup), the kosher salt, the corn meal and the white pepper on a platter. This will be your "dredge".
- Prepare one fillet at a time for frying by first dipping it in the egg "drench". Allow most of this to drip off and then dredge it in the flour mix on both sides. Shake very lightly to remove any notable hunks of flour and corn meal.
- Carefully lay each fillet into the very hot shortening. If it does not begin to fry immediately, your shortening is not hot enough! Do not crowd the fillets in the skillet -- do as many batches as necessary to accommodate this.
- Allow each fillet to fry until lightly browned on the first side and then carefully turn it to the other side. When each fillet is lightly browned on both sides (about 7-10 minutes total), the fish is done. It should be very white and flakey in the thickest part of the fillet.
- Serve with ketchup and/or tartar sauce as an entree, or, on sandwiches.