Fried Whole Fish with Tartar Sauce

A classic combination for your next fish fry.

Fried Whole Fish and Tartar Sauce
Photo: Liz Bodet of EFG & Associates

This classic fried fish recipe comes straight from the kitchen of Chef Nicole Mills of Pêche Seafood Grill in New Orleans. She recommends using using snapper, redfish, or flounder for this recipe. Serve it at your next fish fry Friday along with her tartar sauce during Lent.


Fried Whole Fish

  • 1 1.5- to 2-lb. whole fish (snapper/redfish/flounder)

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • .6 cup yellow cornmeal

  • cup all-purpose flour

  • Peanut oil for frying

Tartar Sauce

  • 1 quart mayonnaise

  • ¼ cup malt vinegar

  • ¼ cup bread and butter pickles, chopped

  • ½ cup jalapeño, minced

  • 1 Tablespoon horseradish

  • 1 Tablespoon garlic, minced

  • ¼ cup onion, minced

  • ½ teaspoons cayenne

  • 1 Tablespoon salt


  1. Tartar Sauce: In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients together and mix with a whisk until fully incorporated. Taste.

  2. Using a wide cast iron skillet, fill the pot with peanut oil, halfway up, on medium heat. Heat the oil up to 350º F.

  3. In a bowl, combine cornmeal and all-purpose flour. Mix with a whisk until there are no more lumps.

  4. To clean the fish: using kitchen shears, snip off all the fins. Cut off the gills and score the flesh.

  5. Season the fish with salt and pepper, then coat the fish in the cornmeal/flour dredge. Make sure to coat the belly and stomach.

  6. If the oil is ready, gently place the fish in the hot oil. Fry the fish on one side for approximately 6 minutes and the other for another 6 minutes. Once the fish is golden brown, remove from the oil and sprinkle with salt.

  7. Serve with lemons and tartar sauce.

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