Nik Snacks

Bite it and write it. That's what I do.


On 12:03 PM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , ,    No comments
Easy, impressive and flavorful. Instant Pot Caramel Glazed Salmon is the kind of dish you make for your significant other's family when it's time to impress them. It's fool-proof and you'll make it a part of your regular rotation of meals. It's that good.

Once again, I'm inspired by NYT Cooking and this recipe is an adaptation of Melissa Clark's Pressure Cooker Vietnamese Caramel Salmon. Her recipe there is a simplified version of one that appears in one of her cookbooks. She takes it from stove and oven to pressure cooker and it all comes together in less than 20 minutes instead of 90 minutes.

It's time to eat

Believe it or not, I've simplified it even more than THAT.

Instant Pot Caramel Glazed Salmon | Nik Snacks

Instant Pot Caramel Glazed Salmon
Yield: 4 servings, 3oz to 5 oz each

4 skin-on salmon fillets (salmon steaks work too)
1 Tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil
1/3 dark brown sugar
3 Tablespoons fish sauce
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lime (~2 Tablespoons)
salt and black pepper, to taste
sliced scallions (white and green parts, for garnish)

1. Combine the oil, brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger, lime zest and lime juice in a bowl. Stir to mix everything evenly.
2. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Spoon half of the caramel mixture in the bottom of the Instant Pot. Place the fish, skin side up on top of the caramel. Pour the leftover caramel over the fish.
3. Set pressure cooker to PRESSURE COOK LOW for 1 minute.
For medium-cooked fish, let the pressure cooker natural release for 5 minutes after the timer beeps. For well-done fish, let the pressure cooker natural release for 10 minutes. Manual release the steam valve the rest of the way.
4. Transfer the fish to a serving plate and spoon caramel from the pot over the fish filets and garnish with scallions.

SIDE DISH IDEAS: white or brown rice, steamed cabbage, ramen noodles, glass noodles, cucumber salad, fresh  cucumber slices, coleslaw, steamed broccoli
On 11:26 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , ,    No comments
One of the many joys I have discovered in my kitchen is the ease and satisfaction of using the Instant Pot. Spicy Bloody Mary Spaghetti is easily one of the best spontaneous recipes I've ever developed. Pasta in the pot is nearly fool-proof and as a person who will never order a Bloody Mary on purpose, this dish is a fantastic compromise.

I love this recipe because whatever garnish you'd put in a Bloody Mary, you can put it here: olives, bacon, celery, onion pearls, pickled garlic, lemon, lime... the list can be anything but traditional. But what makes the spaghetti dish possible is cooking the pasta in Bloody Mary mix.

Tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, garlic, herbs, horseradish, celery, olives, salt, black pepper, lemon juice, lime juice and celery salt make up most prepared mixes but you can make your own and spice it however you like. I DO NOT like the mixes that have emulsifiers, preservatives and thickening agents in them. I don't care how good it is or how much MSG they sprinkle in it (which is a great idea, actually) I'm not into it. But this addition to the pasta is really a show stopper.

Every time I use it I am shocked at how I waited 5 years to get one and how easy it is to use and the fact that I don't have to turn on the stove or oven most days really astounds me.

The sauce coats each pasta strand with just enough sauce to color it and is permeated with just enough spice to make it snappy.

Inspired by a NYT pasta recipe for sage and sausage, this dish is a keeper.

Spicy Bloody Mary Spaghetti
Yield: 8-2 oz servings

1 pound spaghetti
About 3 cups Bloody Mary mix (I used Agalima Organic, it was on sale)
1 lb hot Italian sausage links
24 sage leaves
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Shaved Parmesan
(Optional) olives, bacon, celery, onion pearls, pickled garlic, lemonslices, lime slices for garnish

1. Place raw, uncooked pasta in the electric pressure cooker and pour Bloody Mary mix over the pasta until just barely covered. This amount will vary with each pasta shape you use.
2. Stir to combine. This prevents pasta from clumping and sticking together during cooking.
3. Set the cooker to PRESSURE COOK. Set the time by looking at the recommended box directions' cooking time: cut the time in half and add ONE minute. Example: if the cooking directions say 9-11 minutes, set the timer to 6 minutes. That's 10 minutes minus 5 plus 1.
4. Heat a skillet on medium-high heat and add oil. Fry the sage leaves in the olive oil until they are crisp. Drain them on paper towels, leaving the oil in the skillet.
5. Chop the sausages in chunks and sauté them in the oil until the pieces are browned, adding the garlic toward the end so that it gets golden but not burned. Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside. Meanwhile, cook fettuccine until al dente.
6. After the pasta cook timer elapses, do a manual quick release for AL DENTE pasta OR natural release for 5-7 minutes and quick release the rest of the way for more well-done pasta.
7. Open the lid and add sausage and sage. Place pasta in serving dishes. Garnish with cheese.

On 9:11 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , ,    No comments
Remember that time I went to a farm 20 minutes from my house to get beef? Well, now ALL NC residents can do the same AND there's an app for that!

The NC 10% Campaign has teamed up with NC Choices to promote Meat Suite a new online platform where North Carolinians can buy local, niche meats in bulk. 

The campaign provides resources so that customers can feel comfortable buying in bulk directly from farms and processors. One way is to show how all the different cuts can be used in recipes and meal planning. 

I wrote a couple of pieces about local chefs and what they cook at home back in April. The recipe was written and tested by me, but the instructions were dictated to me over the phone by the chef I interviewed.

Ground beef is easily one of the most recognizable and easily obtainable beef products. Hamburgers, tacos, meatloaf and chili are nice but have you ever had highly seasoned beef cooked so well that the fat renders the meat crispy on the outside? Cool, crisp leaves of lettuce wrap around the hot beef creating a symphonic boat of great and delicious proportions. Squeezing lemon, lime add a little fun to the party while basil leaves provide a sweet, herbaceous undertone that could satisfy any baught with hunger.

Serve with noodles, rice or sauteed vegetables, it's the perfect weeknight meal that only seems fancy and complicated from the outside looking in.

Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps
Yield: 4-6 servings
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 red or green Thai chilis, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb ground beef (80/20 mixture)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice, divided
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce (such as nam pla and nuoc nam)
  • 2 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (parsley is a good substitute)
  • 2 heads Bibb or butter lettuce, leaves separated (iceberg is fine here too)
  • Steamed white rice and lime wedges (for serving)
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add garlic, ginger and chilis and cook, stirring, until garlic is just beginning to turn golden, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add ground beef, season with salt and pepper and cook by breaking up the meat with the edge of a spatula. Press down firmly to help the beef brown until cooked through, browned, and crispy, about 6–8 minutes.
  3. Remove all but a scant bit of grease from the pan. Lower heat to medium.
  4. Deglaze the pan with fish sauce and soy sauce. Add brown sugar, lime juice and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of pan until liquid is almost completely evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  5. Remove pan from heat and fold chopped cilantro into the beef mixture.
  6. Serve beef with lettuce leaves, white rice and lime wedges.

On 12:30 PM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , ,    No comments

I followed my heart, and it led me to the beach – Unknown

I want to share an Atlantic Beach Travel Guide today (along with bonus stops along the Crystal Coast of North Carolina). What's the Crystal Coast, you ask? It's the southern part of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

I didn't grow up in a beach-going, sun-worshipping family. Our vacations were usually visiting other family members around the country (and in the country) or international destinations. I do make a point to go to a North Carolina beach at least once a year, even if it's to dip my toes in the water to rejuvenate and reset my soul. There's a reason why people call it "Vitamin Sea".

2020 was my second time staying in Atlantic Beach but I've visited other Crystal Coast communities over the years. My first time was 20 years ago! Where Atlantic Beach is situated, it's got the Atlantic Ocean in the front and the Bogue Sound in the back. One of the best parts is the isle is only 20 miles from end to end.  
If you’re interested in visiting, read on for my favorite restaurants and things to do in Atlantic Beach and other points along the Crystal Coast!

A RENTAL: I love renting a house for a week whether it's summer or fall. You can come and go and you please, you can cook in the kitchen and have a safe space to make your own base camp during your vacation. I've rented through several different companies throughout the years: Bluewater Real Estate And Vacation Rentals AB is one of the best. You should also look at VRBO! There are hundreds of houses, condos and apartment properties that can suit you and your party's needs. We stayed at Bogue Shores in a quaint condo that sleeps 4, but is really meant for 2 and maybe 2 small children. A beautiful pool, outdoor grills, crystal clear views of the Bogue Sound and Intracoastal Waterway, a dock with 30+ boat slips and a 3-minute walk to the beach await you.

Ocean view from a balcony at the DoubleTree Atlantic Beach

A HOTEL: If you prefer room service and a daily sprucing of your quarters (or if there are no rentals available), then consider booking a room at one of these two oceanfront hotels, DoubleTree by Hilton Atlantic Beach Oceanfront and the Oceanana Family Motel. Both are located right next to the only two piers in Atlantic Beach in easy and convenient locations. The only downside is that, like a typical hotel, the rooms can be small. But they both have on-site restaurant dining options, offer breakfast every morning, and each boast multiple pool areas and a family-friendly atmosphere! And the DoubleTree is pet-friendly!

BEACH: The most obvious thing to do is to enjoy the beach! Atlantic Beach really is a magical place. It's clean, not overly crowded (so social distancing is not a problem) and those you do see are cordial and nice. We bring our own chairs, umbrellas and set up camp for hours at a time. Beach wagons are great for traversing the sand, but our little red wagon works just fine. We always pack snacks and drinks in a cooler; other times we’ll head back to the condo or hotel for a meal and a nap to take a break from the sun. Our trips always involve getting in as much beach time as possible.

BIKE: Head across the Atlantic Beach Causeway to Beaufort to rent bikes or plan a historical or culinary tour with Hungry Town Tours. Bikes and scooters are easy to rent anywhere on the Crystal Coast. Whether you bring your own or need to borrow one for a few hours, Beachside Bikes is one of the best reputable companies in the area and you can ride all over the island looking at the pretty houses!

PUTT PUTT: Visit the Atlantic Beach Skate Park which is a multiplex with an 18-hole mini golf course, BMX and skateboarding course (perfect for tweens, teens and anybody looking to show off some tricks), a splashpad, concession stand and public beach access.

YOGA What is better way to start your day than with sun salutations and downward facing dogs on the beach? Check out NC Coastal Life's schedule for yoga classes in Atlantic Beach and Beaufort. One of the most relaxing and beautiful sessions are the sunset yoga classes that are right on the beach. It’s $10 per class and you don’t even need a yoga mat, just bring your beach towel and you’re good to go.

FARMERS MARKET The Olde Beaufort Farmers Market runs on Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm. Open April through November, the market welcomes well-behaved pets, has activities for the kids, 40+ vendors, a regularly scheduled food truck and live music and boasts something for everyone.

AQUARIUM (currently closed due to COVID-19) Get up close and personal to sea life at the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. One of three aquariums run by the state, it's a great place to go on a rainy day or to enjoy air conditioning while learning about the natural areas surrounding the aquarium and animal care areas behind the scenes.

DEEP SEA FISHING Captain Stacy's Fishing Center is the place to go for half day, full day and overnight fishing charters. Prices include everything but the fish themselves: rods, reels, bait and tackle. Also, they keep your fish on ice while you are on the boat. There is food and beverages for purchase, but you can bring a cooler aboard if you prefer to bring your own snacks. If you're not into fishing and want to shop, there's a gift shop that is two floors of everything nautical and nice that you can bring home as souvenirs for all of your friends and family.

Big Oak Drive-In And BBQ Known for the best shrimpburgers on the Crystal Coast, you have to stop by for one of those or a barbecue sandwich. Have a car picnic in the parking lot or take it back to your lodgings, it's worth the drive to eat at this popular, iconic beach spot. Hushpuppies are only 85 cents and you could hula hoop using the onion rings here. DON'T SLEEP on their crabcake sandwich. Served on a soft bun with creamy coleslaw, it was probably the best surprise of our time here.
Click here to read about Big Oak and some other barbecue joints in NC.

Dank Burrito – Morehead City If you're looking for something fresh, modern and something for everyone, head here. What started as a food truck is now one of the most creative spots on the coast. Burritos, tacos, rice bowls all come with side of chips and your choice of salsa: pico, hot pico, cucumber jalapeno (my faaaavorite), salsa verde, black bean and corn. Also, it's owned by my friend Clarke Merrell and his wife, Liza.

El's Drive In Home of the Superburger, it's another popular drive-in spot that is a must-eat when you're visiting the Crystal Coast. Watch out for the dozens of seagulls that hangout in the parking lot, hovering and waiting for you to open your window so they can swoop in and take your food.

Full Moon Oyster Bar & Seafood Kitchen The original location is near me in Clemmons, NC so it's a treat to see a hometown favorite right by the beach. You can't miss it, as it's right off the Atlantic Beach Causeway! Spring for the Full Moon steamer bucket which comes with steamed potatoes, coleslaw, crab legs, shrimp, scallops, clams and oysters! Enough for two! You have to eat here if you like seafood – then stop at Captain Stacy’s across the street to go shopping – they have a HUGE selection of trinkets, jewelry, decor and gifts. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s so much fun to peruse!

Michaelangelo’s Pizza – Atlantic Beach I promised my boyfriend he could have pizza for his birthday dinner and Michaelangelo's delivered! Literally! NY Style pizza, garlic knots, fresh salads (just get the chef salad, it's better) subs and pastas are all good!

Wanna pizza me? A fresh pie from Michaelangelo's

Pescara Wood Oven Kitchen (closed for the season due to COVID-19) This is one of the nicer restaurants in Atlantic Beach. It's a bit pricier than many of the surrounding restaurants but 100% worth it! The menu features traditional Italian fare with NC seafood flare—including a wood-fired oven for the best pizzas on the coast—as well as produce and seafood sourced from local farmers and fishermen. They have amazing small plates, a banging wine list and my friend Creighton McNeil is the chef/owner here.

Prime 1079 Located in the DoubleTree in Atlantic Beach, the steaks, chops and crabcakes are the best.

Rucker Johns We ate here for dinner on my 37th birthday. I'll always remember that movie, To Gillian On Her 37th Birthday because it was set at the beach and I got to spend mine there too. Also the food here is good, made fresh-to-order. It's a casual, family-friendly atmosphere in a shopping center. They serve these flaky, honey-butter croissants and it is a feat not to eat 5 baskets before the food comes.

This year it felt like it was the first time I ever went on vacation–and it’s been one of the only times where I’ve truly been able to relax. I got to shed my skin, get a little bronzed and rejuvenate my heart and my soul on the beach; It feels like such a safe, happy place that I'm ABSOLUTELY LIVING to return to very soon (hopefully before the year ends).

Let me know if you’ve ever been to Atlantic Beach and if you have any favorites! I’d also love to know if you’re planning a trip there in the future – it’s my NEW favorite beach now!<
On 11:30 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , ,    2 comments
This post is sponsored by NC Pork Council I received compensation in exchange for sharing my BBQ road trip. Although this post is sponsored, all words, opinions and photos are mine.

Everyone has a barbecue bucket list, right? From now until Labor Day, the NC Pork Council has a promotion to help you check some of those barbecue joints off your list! Details of the contest and promotion are at the bottom of the post. Your participation could net you a FREE t-shirt.

From the Toast of the Triad to the Crystal Coast of NC, I picked FIVE barbecue joints and a BONUS pit stop for your NC BBQ Summer of 'Cue roap trip inspiration. When the promotion started in early July, I just happened to have booked a trip to Atlantic Beach for my boyfriend's 45th birthday celebration, so the timing could not have been better. Road trips and traveling down east (where a majority of NC barbecue restaurants reside) isn't new for me and neither is planning a trip around food. And eating barbecue and its fixins is practically a prerequisite for residence in the Old North State.

For a brief rundown of what NC barbecue is (and isn't) click here to read this article I wrote in early 2020 about the state of 'cue in Winston-Salem (which is where I live).

Check out the map below to see where we ate and the driving directions. You can use this map as a guide for your own trip across the state.


Honkytonk Smokehouse in Winston-Salem

This is currently my favorite barbecue spot in the city. It's around the corner from my house, the owners are a lovely husband and wife team and I can't get enough of their Split Decision Platter (two smoked meats, two sides, Texas toast). I always get the pulled pork and the brisket. My boyfriend really likes the smoked sausage. I switch up the sides, but the jalapeno baked beans are out of this world and I get them every time.

Other than the barbecue, the best part is the selection of six sauces they offer (pictured below). My favorites are: brown sugar glaze, Eastern dip, Alabama white. I also gotta have ketchup for the hushpuppies and french fries, ranch for dipping the Texas toast and mustard for the brisket.

Clark's Barbecue in Kernersville

One of the few common denominators is that North Carolina barbecue is pork. In Pork We Trust. In pork shoulder, Lexington style trusts. I think Lexington style is the best barbecue. It’s been said that the first barbecue style you try is the kind you think is best. I agree. 

I wrote a review about Clark's in 2017. You can click here to read it, or you can roll through Kernersville and taste it for yourself.

The Original Carolina Barbecue of Garner

If you're traveling from the Triad, once you get past Raleigh, you're probably ready to stretch your legs and fill up on something good to eat before continuing to ramble on down to the beach.

Classic Eastern style barbecue is king and queen here at this family style restaurant. Get a platter or two of the good stuff and pair it with fried chicken and all of the fixins. Every platter comes with 2 sides (I got potato salad and collard greens) unlimited hushpuppies, slaw and your choice of bread (rolls or cornsticks). The sweet tea is good and is served with that good ice.

Wilber's Barbecue in Goldsboro

Wilber's is an iconic Eastern North Carolina barbecue destination in Goldsboro, NC – which opened in 1962, escaped from the throes of bankruptcy late last year only to emerge and close in March 2019 due to the pandemic–is now offering barbecue curbside. The interior is completely renovated, but the public isn't allowed inside yet (not even to use the facilities, as we quickly found out while waiting in the car line)

Honestly, I'd never heard of this place until 1 day before it's not-so-grand reopening on July 15. As luck would have it, you have to drive through Goldsboro on HWY 70 to get to the beach and Wilber's instantly went on my must-eat list. Currently, the menu is limited and rightfully so: they've been selling out of their legendary pork well. before closing time each day. 

 *BONUS* Nahunta Pork Center in Pikeville

Home of the largest pork display in the world, the Nahunta Pork Center is literally in the middle of nowhere. Along HWY 70 there are nearly a dozen billboards alerting you to the pork retailer's presence. Part curiosity and part road trip adventure, we decided to stop here on our way back from the beach.

Holy moly, they have EVERYTHING from the root to the toot for sale here. Not only do they sell every part of the pig, they process them on site. Everything is incredibly clean and organized. I've never seen such a well-oiled operation. They are open Monday through Saturday and are waiting for you to stop by and pick up some pork to make your own barbecue sandwiches at home.

(left to right: country style pork ribs, St. Louis style ribs, hickory smoked bacon, pre-cooked smoked sausage, hot sausage patties, side meat, peppered and smoked side meat, pork cracklings)

Big Oak Drive-In And BBQ in Salter Path

Known for their shrimpburgers, Big Oak is the little drive-in restaurant that could. The barbecue is Eastern style and served on soft hamburger buns or in a platter with french fries, slaw, hush puppies and tea.

Have a car picnic in the parking lot or take it back to your lodgings, it's worth the drive to eat at this popular, iconic beach spot. I know this post is all about the barbecue, but DON'T SLEEP on their crabcake sandwich. Served on a soft bun with creamy coleslaw, it was probably the best surprise of our time here.

Since summer isn't over, I'll probably sneak in one more 'cue road trip before Labor Day. 
Where do YOU want to go first?

Want to create your own Summer of 'Cue road trip AND get a t-shirt for your efforts?
Listed below are the official rules and details.
• FOLLOW NC Pork Council and Whole Hog Barbecue on social media (@ncpork and @wholehogbarbecue on Instagram)
• EAT barbecue from any North Carolina barbecue joint (restaurant, food truck, mobile vendor, etc.) between NOW and September 7th
• POST a photo of you and/or your barbecue at five different North Carolina barbecue restaurants throughout the summer. *Social media posts MUST be made public to qualify. Private posts will not be seen.
• TAG NC Pork Council in all of your posts, tell everybody where you’re eating and use the HASHTAG #summerofcue. Don’t forget to tag the restaurant and give them some love, too!
• VISIT and fill out the online form after you’ve visited 5 restaurants and posted 5 photos. They will verify your posts and send you a FREE special edition T-shirt in September!
Promotion ends Monday, September 7th. Must be 18 years of age or older. NC residents only. For details and barbecue bucket list inspiration, visit:
• PRIZES FOR PARTICIPANTS. Participants who complete their road trip and properly share their experience on social media will receive a special edition T-shirt. One shirt awarded per social media account. Maximum of 2 shirts per address. Shirts will be mailed at the end of the promotion. The online form will be used to gather your T-shirt size and mailing address.

On 7:46 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , ,    4 comments

Welcome to the LAST DAY of the 4th Annual #SummerDessertWeek event hosted by Angie from Big Bear’s Wife. We've been celebrating all things summer with a week-long event with some of the best summer dessert recipes! 

This week I shared Blueberry-Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake, No Churn Triple Berry Ice Cream and today it's #SangriaSaturday so a sangria is in order.

Follow the hashtag #SummerDessertWeek on social media to find recipes and make sure to check out the bloggers below for even more summer desserts!

Check out the amazing #SummerDessertWeek recipes from our bloggers today! Ice Cream & Chilled Desserts:
Summertime Drinks:
Sweet Summertime Cakes and Cupcakes:

15 weeks ago I started making 1 minute videos of myself creating a new sangria recipe. Sangria Saturday, I call it. It gave me a sense of purpose and it gave me something to do under quarantine. You can find all of the videos and recipes HERE.

Four months later, I'm still coming up with recipes, I've had 2 wine sponsors and have enough wine to have to build a cellar apparatus to hold it all.

Every day can be a Saturday if you allow it. It's #SangriaSaturday! Slices of fresh pineapple take a PUNCH in this week's sangria. Accented with a special Riesling, spiced rum, sweet grenadine and moonshine soaked maraschino cherries, this week's sangria is dessert, the aperitif and the after party too!

Watch me make the Pineapple Punch Sangria below!

If you're looking to add new wine to your personal collection, I highly recommend Winc. It's a California-based home wine delivery service that offers online membership.
Winc developed a fun quiz to help connect you to wines tailored to your tastes and offers wine delivery right to your door. Use my link and we both get $0 shipping and $20 off the first order.

I hope you’re enjoying these sangria videos as much as I enjoy making them.

If you REALLY like the video(s), gratuities and donations are always appreciated and welcome!

NOTE: For a fun twist, rub the rim of each glass with a cut piece of pineapple and dip each rim in a bowl of sugar. Add a little sweetness to your sangria fun!

Pineapple Punch Sangria

1 (750 ml) bottle sweet or semi-dry white wine (Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc)
1½ cups dark rum
1 fresh pineapple (cut to your preference)
1 medium orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
2 Tablespoons grenadine
4 cups ginger ale
1/4 cup maraschino cherries

Add the pineapple, orange slices, lemon to the bottom of a large pitcher.  Pour wine, rum and grenadine over the fruit and stir to combine.

Place in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours to macerate.  Before serving pour in the ginger ale.  Serve in a glass with ice and garnish each glass with the a maraschino cherry. 

On 6:00 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , ,    1 comment
Every Friday is Fish Fry Friday at my mother's house. Most weeks we used to order boxes of fried filets of fish accompanied with hushpuppies, crinkle cut French fries, freshly grated coleslaw, creamy potato salad or steamy baked potatoes, slices of white bread and hot sauce.

There are whole cultural rituals that surround the sacred fish fry. And I'm here to pull back the curtain and let you in on a little secret.

Dinner is served.

I grew up Catholic and every Friday we had fish for dinner. And twice on weekends that occurred during Lent. My grandmother would pick me up from school and we'd swing around the corner to the fish shop to pick up order of fish for dinner. Porgies, croaker, spots, blue fish (my favorite), flounder; it all made it into the bubbling oil and fried to perfection.

These days, I like Whiting. It's a white, firm-fleshed fish with a neutral flavor and is perfect for frying. The skin crisps up nicely and is mild in flavor too. Fresh or frozen, it's my Friday night fish of choice.

Tips to make fried fish:

Use a heavy bottom pan or cast iron skillet to fry the fish
Use your choice of fish. Tilapia, whiting, cod or catfish.

Pat the fish dry before you dredge them.
Season the fish lightly with salt and pepper
Gently press the breading onto the fish and shake off excess flour
Coat the fish then leave it alone for 10-15 minutes. the longer the better. This will help keep the coating from falling off before you add it to the oil.

Do not fill the skillet more than halfway with oil.
Once the temperature reaches 350°F it’s time to fry.

Southern Fried Fish 
Yield: 3-4 servings 2-3 pieces each

lb Fish Fillet whiting (cod or catfish work)
salt and pepper for taste
vegetable oil for frying
3/4 cup yellow or white cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Lightly season the fish with salt and pepper. Set aside.  In a large bowl, combine the flours and all of the seasonings. 

2. Dredge the fillets in the breading mixture one at a time. Place the coated fillets on a parchment lined baking sheet. Let them sit for 10-15 minutes. 

3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Fill the pan with the vegetable oil halfway.

4. Fry the fillets in batches but do not crowd the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Drain on a paper towel. Serve immediately.