Air-fryer Whole Fish Recipe

Where there is fresh seafood, there is always fried fish to be found. Though other ways of preparing whole fish may be “healthier” – grilled or steamed — there is something about the texture and flavor of fried fish that is irreplaceable. Not too mention that fish itself is a source of high quality, low fat protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

The British recognized it with their famous battered fish and chips combo, southeast Asian chefs serve whole, fried fish with a chili and lime spin, West African cuisines enjoy fried fish with tomato onion slaw. It’s a showstopper dish that is incredibly versatile, and, with this air fryer “cheat”, can be a great way to enjoy seafood.

 

What’s an airfryer?

An airfryer is a fast and convenient option to replace deep frying.  They are more like small convection ovens, using a fan to distribute the heat and cook foods evenly and quickly.  You are likely to enjoy all the flavorful crispiness of a fried fish without the mess, odor, or excessive oil, which is also not as healthy. For a list of best air fryers of 2020, check out this consumer reports link.

 

The Recipe

This recipe gives you a base fried fish to work with and though delicious by itself, can be a great start to any of the other international recipes mentioned above! I also recommend cross referencing this recipe with Kelvin’s Kitchen’s recipe.

fresh perch fish

This is a fresh medium-sized perch that my brother spear fished on the Oregon Coast. Tilapia works excellently as well. You’ll see that the fish has already been descaled and the spiky fins cut off with kitchen shears (near popular fishing areas, there is often fish preparation stations complete with hoses, easily cleaning tables, and seagulls ready to swoop in to eat whatever you’ve left behind!)

With a sharp knife, diagonally score the fish shallowly along the side to ensure even and quick cooking. Rinse and pat dry with a paper towel.

garlic in food processor

Prepare the garlic rub. With either a food processor or mortar & pestle, finely mince about 5 cloves of garlic and a generous pinch of salt until it’s paste-like. With a food processor, you may need to add tablespoon by tablespoon vegetable oil (not olive oil which has a low smoking point) to help it blend smoothly.

Prepare the seasoning flour. Start with 1/4 cup of flour on a platter. Add two tablespoons of Old Bay Seasoning. With a fork or whisk, mix with the flour and seasoning.

flour with old bay

Dress the fish. Take your garlic paste and rub it into the whole fish, making sure to get into the scores of the fish and both sides. After, dredge it in the seasoning flour on both sides, shaking off any excess flour.

floured fish

Place the dressed fish in your airfryer tray. Using cooking oil spray, lightly spray each side of the fish. If you don’t have cooking oil spray, drizzle oil lightly onto each side.

After preheating your airfryer to 390 degrees Fahrenheit, put the fish in for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, check for golden color on one side. Flip with tongs or a fish spatula, and put fish in for another 8 minutes.

When ready, check that it has been cooked all the way through with a fork in the flesh. If it is transparent close to the bone, it needs to continue cooking. If the flesh is white and easily separated from the bone, it’s ready.

finished fish

Serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon!

(You may notice smaller fried fish in the bottom of the image; when my brother went fishing he also caught quite a few fish fry as well. They were prepared the same as the large fish and were delicious!)

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