Fried seafood is a staple in New Orleans and a meal in and of itself. Fresh from the Gulf and seasoned to perfection, it won’t take much to satisfy your seafood cravings in this city. Whether you’re looking for the best fish frys for Lent, or simply craving a plate piled high any time of year, we’ve rounded up the best places to get fresh, golden-fried Gulf seafood below.
Traditional fried seafood platters range from one type of seafood to a mix of them all, plus sides. Say you’re dining at Deanie’s and craving something simple—order yourself a shrimp platter, which comes with tail-on golden fried shrimp atop a bed of French fries, garnished with parsley. Fried seafood platters are often served with a side of potato salad, coleslaw, or hush puppies. Opt for a seafood platter, such as the one at Mandina’s, and get a little bit of everything: fried shrimp, fish, and oysters, plus sides.
What’s better than a platter of fried seafood? A fried seafood po-boy! A po-boy, or “poor boy” sandwich is simply two slices of French bread piled high with your choice of filling, and fried shrimp, catfish, and oysters are often the most popular choices. Some of our favorite spots for fried seafood po-boys include Parkway Bakery & Tavern, Mahony’s, and Barrow’s Catfish. You can get a po-boy for cheap too; check out our guide to po-boys here.
Fried oysters are a traditional appetizer at many New Orleans restaurants. Some restaurants get fancy with it, such as the fried oysters and brie at Clancy’s or the crispy fried P&J oysters at MoPho, served with spicy house mayo and pickled blue cheese. Check out our guide to oysters here.
Take your love of seafood to the next level and enjoy an elevated fried seafood dinner in New Orleans. Standout dishes include Lil’ Dizzy’s Catfish Jourdain (fried fish topped with shrimp and crab meat in a lemon butter sauce), the loaded seafood potato with fried fish, crab cake, and seafood sauce from PeeWee’s Crabcakes on the Go, and the crispy ginger shrimp from Hoshun Restaurant. The panko crusted calamari served with pickled vegetables and Gochujang chili aioli is a favorite at GW Fins, while the Gulf fish amandine (crisp-fried almond-crusted fillet topped with sliced almonds and lemon butter sauce) is an Arnaud’s classic.
Serving Size: 4
Time to Prep: 5 minutes
Time to Cook: 3-5 minutes
Special Kitchen Equipment Required: Deep fryer (or a large, deep cast iron skillet or Dutch oven)
2 pounds fish filets, such as catfish (about 1⁄2 inch thick or thinner), skin removed
About 2 quarts peanut oil
3 cups corn flour (it’s finer than corn meal and adheres better)
3 tablespoons popcorn salt 2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon granulated garlic 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon celery salt
1. If using a deep fryer, fill with oil to the fill line. If using a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, fill with peanut oil to a depth of 1 and 1⁄2 inches. Heat the oil to 350°F over medium-high heat.
2. In a Ziplock bag or large Tupperware container with a lid (a Ziplock is what we’d have at the camp; it’s one less thing to wash), combine the corn flour, popcorn salt, onion powder, white pepper, granulated garlic, cayenne, and celery salt. Seal the bag or cover the container and give it a good shake to mix well.
3. Add one-third of the filets to the bag or Tupperware. Seal and give the fish a good shake to coat well with the corn flour mixture. Remove the fish and shake the excess back into the bag. Gently lay the filets into the hot oil. I lay them in with my hand, but the oil will pop a little bit. If you prefer to use tongs, you can; but be careful not to puncture the filets or remove any breading. Cook in the oil for 1 minute, until the fish is crispy and golden brown on both sides. If they’re super thin, you likely don’t need to turn them over, but if they are thicker, you might need to turn them (gently) with tongs to brown them evenly. Cook them until they have an internal temperature of 135°F, but I’ll tell you, I have never once stuck a thermometer into a piece of fish. You just want it golden and crispy.
4. Remove the fish with a spider strainer or a large slotted metal spoon and place it on a wire rack or a plate with paper towels to drain. While the first batch is cooking, bread the second batch so it’s ready to go as soon as the first batch comes out of the oil, and on with the third batch.
5. Serve hot. And dip in ranch, Caesar, or other favorite dipping sauce.
Why we love this recipe: According to Isaac, “A fish fry is one of those things that doesn’t need to be fancy. Fresh fish, good seasoning, and a golden brown, crispy outside are the keys to a successful fish fry. No need for plates or utensils either, just grab it in your hand, hold a beer or soda in the other hand, and dip it in whatever dressing or sauce you like.”