There are, by my count, at least seven levels of fried chicken. The worst of them is good; the best, which I waited forty-four years to find, led to what can only be called an out-of-body experience. Let’s start at …
Frying cod in a layer of tasty breading makes the difference between delectable flavor and texture that complements the fish and a heavy or soggy coating that detracts from it. Panko, essentially bread flakes rather than crumbs, provides a light and crispy coating for fried foods. The coarser texture of these Japanese-style breadcrumbs reduces the absorption of cooking oil so that fried fish retains a crunchy quality.
- 1/2 cup vegetable, safflower or peanut oil
- Large skillet
- 3 shallow dishes
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. pepper
- Spices (optional)
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- Flat spatula
Heat 1/2 cup of vegetable, safflower or peanut oil in a skillet on medium-high heat to about 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Monitor the temperature with an oil thermometer. You can also judge the oil as ready for the fish when it begins to pop and sizzle.
Pour 3/4 cups of flour into a dish. Add 1 tbsp. of salt and 1 tbsp. of pepper. Add other dried spices such as ginger, chili powder or an Italian blend, if desired. Whisk to disperse the spices throughout the flour.
Crack two eggs into a different dish and whisk them until the yolks and whites combine. Pour 1 1/2 cups of panko into a third dish.
Dredge the cod in the flour and spice mixture. Dip it in the egg to cover all sides. Hold it up over the dish and let the excess egg drain off. Coat it completely in the panko breadcrumbs.
Place the cod in the skillet and cook it for about 4 minutes total, turning it with a flat spatula halfway through the cooking time. Remove the cod from the heat with the spatula when the panko turns golden brown.
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