What is Kolkata style fish fry?
For those of you who are not from Kolkata, fish fry is not the typical Bengali maach bhaja (fried fish steak) that has become a marker of authentic Bengali cuisine. This is rather the anglicized version of maach bhaja— thick fillets of fish marinated with flavorful herbs, breaded with bread crumbs and then deep-fried. It is typically served with lime wedges, raw onion slices, mustard sauce, and ketchup, although I love to serve it with this restaurant style green chutney too. This dish is strictly street/restaurant or bier bari food (wedding banquets). I mean, you will rarely find a Bengali epicure serve “fish fry” as part of a home-cooked Bengali meal. But I like to make it and serve it to guests every chance I get.
What is the best fish for a fish fry?
Kolkata style fish fry is traditionally made with filleted bhetki, but I have made it with all sorts of flaky white fish fillets and they all taste great. In the US, where I can’t find fresh bhetki, I prefer tilapia fillets because they are fresh, very sturdy, and easy to fry. But if you can find fresh bhetki, meaning not frozen, then there is no substitute for it.
Ingredients needed for Fish Fry
Other than good quality, fresh fillets of white fish, you need onions, garlic, ginger, cilantro/coriander leaves, lime, green chilies, mint leaves, salt, and black pepper powder to marinate the fish.
For breading the fish, you will need bread crumbs and eggs.
For deep frying, you need canola or vegetable oil.
Fish fry is traditionally served with a mustard sauce called “kasundi”, but ketchup goes great too.
Kolkata style fish fry
- 500 grams of white fish fillets bhetki/tilapia/cod
- 1 medium onion
- 5-6 cloves of garlic
- 1 inch ginger
- 2 green chilies
- a handful of chopped cilantro/coriander leaves
- a handful of mint leaves
- 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1 tsp black pepper powder
- salt to taste
- 2 cups of seasoned bread crumbs
- Salt to taste
- 3 eggs
For deep frying
- Canola oil
- In a food processor grind the onion, garlic, ginger, chilies, cilantro, and mint into a smooth paste with lime juice.
- Pour the marinade over fish fillets; add black pepper powder and salt. Gently pat to make sure the fillets are evenly coated. Cover with a cling wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- In a shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs and salt; mix well.
- In another shallow bowl, beat eggs with salt until well blended.
- Next, dip each fish fillet first in the egg mixture and then coat with bread crumb mixture. Double-bread for firmer and crispier fires. Pat the sides with a pastry scraper to form even edges.
- Refrigerate the breaded fish for 1-2 hour before frying (to firm them).
- Heat enough oil in a pan for deep frying.
- Cook each fillet for 4 to 6 minutes or until golden brown, turning once.
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