These crispy fried perch fillets are hand-breaded in a seasoned mixture of flour and crushed crackers, then fried until golden brown.
This incredibly easy fried fish recipe is perfect for perch, or any other of your favorite catch! The fried breading is delectably light, crispy, and well seasoned. Best of all, it is incredibly easy to make! So trim up some fresh fillets or just make nice with your favorite fisherman, and let's get frying!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Fresh perch fillets - This recipe would be equally good to make with fresh walleye.
- Milk - You could substitute water if needed.
- Saltine crackers - I recommend salted crackers, not salt-free.
- All purpose flour
- Table salt - The smaller granuals of table salt will work better than larger grain kosher salt.
- Ground black pepper
- Cayenne pepper - Add more for a kick.
- Vegetable oil for frying - I prefer canola oil over olive oil for its neutral flavor. Although both have a high smoke point, so they are each good for frying.
Equipment needed for frying
The best way to make this fried perch recipe is in a tall-sided skillet for frying and using a digital thermometer to monitor the frying oil. Personally, I like to use a cast iron chicken fryer for all of my deep-frying, but many people pan-fry perch successfully in a large skillet. If using a shorter-sided frying pan you may need to add less oil to keep it from dangerously spilling over or starting a grease fire if too much oil is used. Alternatively, this recipe can be made in a deep fryer as well.
How to fry perch
Begin by setting up your dredging station by adding your egg and milk to a medium bowl, then beat eggs with a fork until your egg mixture is well combined. Similarly, add your dry ingredients (cracker crumbs, flour, and seasoning) to a shallow dish and mix the flour mixture well to combine.
Add one or two inches of oil to your pan and heat to 350 degrees. It will take a few minutes for the oil to come to temperature, which gives you time to bread all of the fish.
Working in batches, dip fillets in the egg wash, ensuring you fully coat fish, then let the excess drain off and then place fish in the flour and cracker crumb mixture. Flip it around to ensure it is evenly coated with breading, then set it aside and do the same with the remaining fillets.
Begin frying your perch, in batches as needed, by adding the fillets to the hot oil in a single layer. Fry fish for 3 - 4 minutes per side, flipping once, and cook until golden brown. Place a paper towel under a wire rack and set the fried perch on the rack to drain while you fry the remaining fish.
Note: If you don't have a wire rack, you can set the perch directly on the paper towel instead.
What to serve with fried perch
This can be served as an English-style fish and chips, but being from the Midwest, fried perch (or beer battered perch) is more commonly served as part of a classic Friday night fish fry with all of the traditional fixings. Not to be confused with the distinctly different Door County Fish Boil, to have a true Midwest fish fry you will want to include the following:
- French fries - Or choice of potato.
- Buttered rye bread
- Tartar sauce
- Lemon wedges
- Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned to wash it all down!
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- 1 pound perch fillets
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 cup crushed saltine crackers approximately 30 saltines
- ⅓ cup flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons paprika
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Tartar sauce
- Lemon wedges
- Add 1-2" of vegetable oil to a tall sided skillet set over medium heat, and heat oil to 350 degrees.
- Add eggs and milk to a small dish and beat together with a fork until well blended.
- In a separate dish mix flour with the crushed crackers, salt, paprika, black pepper, and cayenne pepper, until well combined.
- Working in batches, dredge the fish fillets in the egg wash, letting any excess drip off, and then dredge them through the cracker crumb mixture until evenly coated on all sides.
- Add breaded perch fillets to the hot oil in a single layer, working in batches as needed. Flip the fillets halfway through cooking and fry until golden-brown. Approximately 3-4 minutes per side.
- Remove the fried fish from the hot oil and set them on a wire wrack to drain while frying the remaining fish, then serve with tartar sauce and lemon wedges.