How to Make Fried Fish with Dill Tartar Sauce

Kardea Brown shows you how to make the classic Southern dish right at home.

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Kardea Brown grew up in Charleston, SC, eating plenty of fried fish, and she knew early on that her grandma’s version was better than anyone else’s. It’s light and crisp, as fried fish should be, “and you can see the seasoning on the outside,” says Kardea, host of Delicious Miss Brown. In the Low Country, where seafood is abundant, “this is the quintessential dish,” the chef says. Kardea learned to make it when she was 15, carefully monitoring the temperature of the oil. “It has to be extremely hot, and your fish has to be pretty dry. If it’s too wet, the coating won’t adhere,” she explains. And when you’re frying, pay close attention: Thin fillets cook quickly. “Look for a golden brown color. It won’t take long to get there!” Here's how-to make the classic dish right at home.

Step One

Make the tartar sauce: Mix the mayonnaise, pickles, capers, lemon juice, dill and sugar in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Step Two

Prepare the fish: Rinse the fish with cold water and pat dry lightly. Season with a little salt and pepper.

Step Three

Whisk the cornmeal, flour and Cajun seasoning in a small bowl. Pour into a medium paper bag.

Step Four

Add the fish to the bag a few pieces at a time and shake the bag to coat each piece evenly. Transfer the coated fish to a sheet of parchment paper.

Step Five

Heat 1 1/2 inches of vegetable oil in a deep cast-iron skillet over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers about 375˚ F. Working in batches, add the fish fillets to the hot oil and fry until they start to float and turn golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

Step Six

Remove the fried fillets to a rack set on a baking sheet to drain off any excess oil. Serve with the tartar sauce and lemon wedges.

All Photographs by Ralph Smith

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