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Make a real New England Fish Fry at home! Tender cod or haddock is dipped in a light and flavorful coating, then fried to crispy perfection.
What is a New England Fish Fry?
A typical New England Fish Fry is most often haddock or cod that has been dipped in a light breading before it is fried. The fish is served with hearty french fries and coleslaw, with tartar sauce, lemon wedges and malt vinegar on the side. (A nice cold beer is a great addition too!)
The breading in a New England Fish fry is very distinctive – it fries up light and crispy, but also sticks well to the fish.
Over the years, Jack and I have tried to recreate the perfect New England Fish Fry coating at home – but I have to admit, we haven’t come close at all – until today!
After spotting a fish fry recipe in Coastal Living magazine a while back – I showed it to Jack – and we immediately wanted to try it with some haddock we had on hand. The recipe used Wondra flour, large amounts of corn starch, as well as baking powder in the dry mix (plus seasonings), and eggs and water in the wet mix.
I could tell that Jack was a little skeptical, because this batter was very different than any other fish fry recipe we’ve tried making before. But – with a few tweaks, namely far less salt than the original recipe – it was excellent!
The haddock fried up light and crispy on the outside, and the inside was super moist and flaky. (Just like the New England Fish Fry at our favorite local seafood restaurant!)
“I was brought up on the seacoast in NH, and when I was very young, every Friday evening, my Dad, my sister, and I would pick up my mom from work at the bank and head over to a takeout fish shack across the border in Maine. This cantankerous little Italian man, who owned the joint, was infamous for his fried haddock dinners and pepper steaks. That man went to the grave with his recipe, and our whole family and extended family has been trying to recreate that fried haddock for 50 years! Well doggone it, this is THE recipe or pretty darn close–it even looked like his masterpiece. I remember him dredging the fish in the flour just before sliding it in the oil, so he must have been double dipping. I cannot thank you enough for sharing. The only thing I did differently was sprinkle it with kosher salt as soon as it came out of oil. I remember it was a bit crispy and the tiniest bit salty–moist and flaky. Perfection! Thanks again!” – Jean
Why You’ll Love This New England Fish Fry
- It tastes just like some of the best seafood restaurants along the New England coast.
- The fish cooks up moist and tender with a delicious crispy coating.
- This recipe is quick and easy to make with dinner on the table in just about thirty minutes.
Key Ingredients & Substitutions
- White Fish – Typically, this recipe is made with Atlantic cod or haddock, but any firm, white fish can also be used.
- Wondra Flour – Wondra is an all-purpose flour mixed with malted barley and other ingredients. It is sold specifically as a quick-mixing flour for smoother gravies and sauces, but it can be used in any recipe that calls for all-purpose flour.
- Corn Starch – You might be surprised at how much corn starch is used in this batter, but it acts as both a binding agent and also helps create a lighter, crispier batter.
- Baking Soda
- Salt and Pepper – We used the more finely-ground white pepper in our batter to avoid seeing black specs in our fried batter. Finely ground black pepper can also be used.
- Vegetable Oil – For frying
- Tartar Sauce – Buy your favorite jarred variety, or make your own using this homemade tartar sauce recipe.
Special Tools Needed
- Mixing bowls
- Sheet Trays
- Cast Iron Skillet
- Deep Fry Thermometer – Use this to ensure that the temperature is at 350 degrees F for frying.
- Paper Towels
- Parchment Paper
The trick to an extra crispy New England Fish Fry is to double dip the fish in the flour. Dip once in egg and flour mixtures. Let sit, then dip again in flour right before frying.
How do I make a New England Fish Fry?
- Whisk the dry ingredients together in one mixing bowl.
- Whisk the wet ingredients (eggs & water) together in another mixing bowl.
- Dip each piece of fish in the egg mixture first, then the flour mixture. Lay flat on a sheet pan. (Do not discard either dipping mixture.)
- Heat the oil in the skillet to 350 degrees F.
- Dip each piece of fish in the flour again, then slide into the skillet to fry. (Fry in batches – about three pieces of fish at a time.)
- Fry each piece for about four minutes until golden, flipping halfway through the cooking time.
- Remove to a paper towel to remove excess oil, then onto a parchment lined sheet pan. Place the sheet pan of fish in a warm oven while you fry up the rest.
- Serve with tartar sauce, coleslaw, lemon wedges, and malted vinegar on the side.
This recipe originally appeared on A Family Feast in September 2017. We’ve updated the post, but the delicious recipe remains the same.
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1 cup Wondra flour or other fine flour
1 cup corn starch
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper
3 whole eggs
1/4 cup water
3 pounds white fish such as haddock, cod, etc. cut into 4–6 ounce pieces
Vegetable oil, for frying
Lemons, for garnish
Malt vinegar, for serving
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
- In a medium bowl, mix flour, corn starch, baking powder, salt and pepper with a whisk.
- In a second medium bowl, mix eggs with the water also with a whisk.
- Dip each piece of fish in the egg mixture then the flour mixture and lay out on a tray. Do not discard flour mixture yet.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet filled about half way with vegetable oil to 350 degrees F.
- Once the oil is hot, dip each piece of fish in the flour mixture a second time, shake excess and gently lay three pieces in the hot oil. Fry for about four minutes until golden. They may float which will require you to turn them half way through cooking so each side gets crispy. Do this carefully with two spatulas. Thicker pieces will cook longer than thinner tail pieces.
- Remove to a paper towel then onto a clean sheet tray lined with parchment and place in the oven while you cook the remaining fish. Keep cooking three pieces at a time adding to the pan in the oven.
- Garnish with lemon wedges. Serve with coleslaw, tartar sauce, and malt vinegar.
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