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The greatest fish fry recipe of all time

OK, I'm cavin' in, and I want full credit for this — the greatest fish fry recipe in the history of the world.

You can call it Gronaw's or Mr. Jim's recipe, but full acknowledgment should go my way.

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As a matter of fact, I'm thinking about marketing it with the Food Network Channel next year on my new TV series called "Wild Game On," a new show about wild game recipes and backwoods cooking.

Here it is: Get a bunch — maybe two dozen — fresh bluegill, crappie or white perch fillets and pat them dry, check them out for "no bones" and put them in a bowl of very cold milk. In another bowl, mix a dry batch of these goodies: 2/3 cup of Aunt Jemima's pancake batter; 3 tbsp. of Old Bay seasoning; 2 tbsp. each of salt and pepper; and 2 tbsp. of Jane's Krazy Mixed Up Salt, which can be found at your local grocery store. Now thoroughly mix the dry batter in a bowl. As you experiment, you can add or subtract as your particular taste desires. But these are the basics.

Next, heat a large skillet with your preferred cooking oil — peanut, canola, vegetable, whatever. Shoot for a 350- to 375-degree temperature and now you're ready to rock. Take the fillets, soaking in the cold milk, and put them in the dry mix, covering them completely. Lay the fillets evenly on a paper plate until you have enough covered to fill your skillet. Then, place all the fillets in the pan of hot oil at the same time and let them get cookin' for about four minutes. When the fillets start to curl and become golden brown on the edges, flip them over and let them cook for another three minutes. Remove the fillets and drain them on a bed of paper towels. Repeat the process until they are all cooked, layering paper towels between each panful of fillets.

Keep in mind that as the process continues, the oil in the pan will become darker and the fillets will have a darker brown appearance to them. They are not burned, just darker than the earlier batch of fillets, but just as good. Maintain the same cooking time as you did for the earlier round of fillets.

Finally, with fillets drained and the kitchen smelling great, it's time to break out the cocktail sauce, ketchup, toasted rolls for fish sandwiches and other assorted goodies. Don't hold back on frosty beverages or measures of sweet Southern iced tea. Plus, if the windows are open, you might just get a pop-in visit from one or more of your neighbors.

This plan of attack doesn't just work for fresh panfish fillets but will kill a skillet full of yellow perch, white perch and chunked/cubed portions of smaller striped bass and channel catfish as well. You guys up in the north country or Deep Creek Lake: Don't overlook the tasty options of small northern pike.

There you have it — the premier fish fry recipe on the planet.

Don't miss my next wild game treat on my upcoming show, "If Cooks Could Kill," due out in the spring of 2015, supplemented by another spin-off called "Camo Cookin" — just kidding!

Jim Gronaw is a freelance outdoor writer from Westminster. His column appears in the Advocate on the first and third Wednesday of the month.

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