While preparing this Nigerian fried fish recipe, I couldn’t help but think of my parents. Growing up, seafood was a big part of my life, not just because I ate it a lot, but because there are so many memories surrounding Nigerian fish and other seafood dishes that I would never forget in a hurry. Before I talk about and demonstrate how to fry fish using the Nigerian style of seasoning, marinating and deep frying fish, I’d like to share a bit of myself and pay homage to my coastal roots and how it developed my love of seafood.
My mother is originally from a coastal area of Nigeria, so seafood was always a tradition for her. I imagine that marrying my dad meant she got to share tons of interesting recipes with him because by the time I came around, my dad had already fallen in love with seafood himself. Fresh fish was always abundant in my childhood home and at not something I was always particularly fond of. This seafood tradition drilled even deeper into my family roots because around the age of 10, we moved into a neighborhood that was right around the corner from several fishing towns and a few minutes away from a handful of beaches. I remember one day, my dad took a walk to one of those fish markets and bought a significant amount of perch. Once he returned home, he lit up the coal pot (just think of it as a grill), and started roasting the fish. There was no need to announce his presence or an invitation as the aroma of the fish roasting on an open fire had all of us outside in minutes. We all sat warmed by the burning coal and eating roasted fish at the back of our house. There was no fancy equipment, no fancy serving dishes, nothing more than freshly caught perch, a few seasonings over a hot coal. It remains the best fish dish I have ever had till now, and is also the inspiration behind the Nigerian style I use to fry my fish.
Classic, western fish are usually fried in a batter and served with potato chips or the like. Nigerian fried fish omits the batter. In this Nigerian fried fish recipe, I serve freshly caught fried perch with fried sweet potato cubes, fried cocoyam (taro) chips, and some plantain chips as sides. I prepared the plantain chips just like in my previous plantain chips recipe with the chips just cut a little differently. My choice of perch was sentimental (based on the story above) but the Nigerian style of frying fish can be applied to any fish of your choice with the promise of very spicy but delicious results!
How to Fry Fish Nigerian Style
- 4 whole perch scaled and gutted (I used perch but feel free to use any fish of your choice)
- 1 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of bullion
- 1 teaspoon of chilli pepper
- 1 teaspoon of ginger powder
- Half a teaspoon dry mustard
- Half a teaspoon of salt
- Half a teaspoon of garlic powder
- 2 batata sweet potatoes red skinned sweet potatoes peeled and cut into cubes (optional)
- 2 lbs cocoyams or taro root peeled and cut into 1 inch thick strips (optional)
- Oil for deep frying
Mix the Dry Seasoning
Combine all the dry seasonings (black pepper, bullion, chilli pepper, ginger, dry mustard, salt, and garlic powder), and set aside.
Marinating the Fish
Pat dry the cleaned fish so it is not wet, lightly score the fish twice on each side then season each fish with about half to 1 teaspoon of the dry seasoning.
Massage the dry seasoning into the fish gently then set aside.
Frying the Fish
In a deep fryer/ deep frying pan, bring the oil up to a temperature of about 350 degrees F.
Usually if you don’t have a thermometer or are too lazy like me to use it, just throw in a piece of bread into the oil, if it sizzles, then you know it is ready. Just be cautious, this method does not tell you if your oil is too hot.
Fry the fish for about 10-15 minutes on each side, until the fish is golden brown on both sides.
This Nigerian fried fish recipe is dedicated to my mom and dad who just celebrated their birthdays! I love you both very much, words cannot express how grateful and lucky I am to have you as parents.
Nigerian Fried Fish Recipe
- 4 whole perch scaled and gutted
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp bullion
- 1 tsp chilli pepper
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 batata sweet potatoes (optional) red skinned sweet potatoes peeled and cut into cubes
- 2 lbs taro root (optional) peeled and cut into 1 inch thick strips
- Oil for deep frying
- Combine all the dry seasonings (black pepper, bullion, chilli pepper, ginger, dry mustard, salt, and garlic powder), and set aside.
- Pat dry the cleaned fish so it is not wet, lightly score the fish twice on each side then season each fish with about 1/2-1 tsp of the dry seasoning. Massage the dry seasoning into the fish gently then set aside, in a deep fryer/ deep frying pan, bring the oil up to a temperature of about 350 degrees F. Usually if you don't have a thermometer or are too lazy like me to use it, just throw in a piece of bread into the oil, if it sizzles, then you know it is ready. Just be cautious, this method does not tell you if your oil is too hot.
- Fry the fish for about 10-15 minutes on each side, until the fish is golden brown on both sides.
- Fry the potatoes and taro root separately, until it is tender and crisp on the outside (takes about 10 minutes).
Nigerian Fried Fish NutritionThe nutritional information for a serving of Nigerian fried fish and chips shown below with perch as the main fish ingredient and the assumption of 10% oil retention on deep fried foods.
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