Southern Fried BBQ Fish Sandwich

Friday’s Fish (Story)

Many times when researching recipes for my way-too-many cookbooks I have in progress, I come across ones that are regional specialties like the one urging me to create for today’s post. There is a lot more to such a dish than just the ingredients. I’m talking about ones that stand the test of time, those that are rooted in communities and are entrenched in the lives of the people living blocks and even miles around such eateries. The history behind the food is what excites me. Just knowing a little bit more about the lives of those who enjoy it makes these foods more rewarding.  The photo shown, from Ulika Food Blog, is one that struck home in such a manner. It was taken at TJ's Bar-B-Q & Fish, and is in north Nashville TN on Franklin Street, a street famous for some really great BBQ. Here is what he writes of the area:

“Jefferson Street is the historic heart and soul of Nashville's African American community. It is home to the city's three historically black universities - Fisk University, Meharry Medical College and Tennessee State University. In the 40s, 50s and 60s, Jefferson Street was a thriving hotspot of jazz and R&B, with artists like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ray Charles, Fats Domino and Little Richard regularly playing the clubs and ballrooms that lined the street. But the construction of Interstate 40 in the 1960s ran roughshod through this district, and by all accounts it has never been the same since. Today, it is an area that has felt the sting of years of urban blight, though there continue to be efforts of renewal in some patches.”
Ulika Food Blog specializes in BBQ

Fried fish sandwiches are not anything new and certainly not just southern in origin. But seeing this one, presented in such raw fashion makes it appealing to me. Now, why would I want to mess with it, I don’t know. Nevertheless, here is my creation of this specialty with a little twist - marinated and oven-fried.

Southern Fried BBQ Fish Sandwich

2 pounds catfish fillets or other (see below) cut in serving-size pieces
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup tomato ketchup
1 Tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups cornflakes
1 cup Panko
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 eggs
Bread of choice

Arrange fillets in a shallow, nonreactive baking dish.
In a bowl, mix the next 8 ingredients with a whisk. 

Spoon this mixture over the fillets and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. Flip the fillets and spoon the sauce over the top. Place in the refrigerator for another 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray or mild-tasting vegetable oil.

Place the cornflakes in a plastic bag and run over it a couple of times with a rolling pin. I like the crumbs to be somewhat coarse. Add the Panko, salt and pepper to the bag and shake to mix it all up. Pour into a wide shallow bowl.

Beat the eggs adding just a tad of water and place in another shallow bowl. Drain the fillets from the mixture and pat dry. Dip the fillets into the eggs and press into the crumb mixture coating both sides patting to help the crumbs stick. Place on the prepared pan an inch or so apart.

Cook the fillets for 8 to 12 minutes depending on the thickness. A good rule of thumb is 10 minutes for an inch of thickness. Remove when internal temperature is about 138 degrees F. or when tested in the thickest part, the meat is opaque and white. Remove and make a sandwich to your liking. Splash on some hot pepper sauce or a BBQ sauce if desired - lettuce, tomato and onion are optional too.

Use any whitefish you prefer. Whiting is the choice in most BBQ joints but snapper, halibut or orange roughy are even better. Fish like cod, flounder and haddock will do also since you are baking them and not flipping to cook.


  1. Looks delicious, I haven't used corn flake for breading anything in years! My granny always had them in her home as a pantry staple, But I can't remember the last time I bought them! This recipe looks delicious!


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