Once a good idea hits the streets, it's like it explodes. I remember when there was only one restaurant in Los Angeles that offered Nashville fried chicken. Now it seems like there's a fried chicken joint on every other block! And yes, I'm that person that will go try them all because I love it so much. Inspired by the dish, I decided to make a seafood version. This Nashville fried fish sandwich is basically a classic fish sandwich with tartar sauce but made spicy. Top it with a briny cabbage slaw and you have one outstanding meal!
Nashville Fried Fish Sandwich
- ½ cup mayo
- ½ cup dill pickles finely chopped
- 1 tbsp dill fresh, chopped
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp granulated sugar
- 4 cups green cabbage finely shredded
- 1 cup white distilled vinegar
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 8 cod fillets
- 1 egg
- 1 cup beer
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp hot sauce
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- oil for frying
- ½ cup butter melted
- 1-2 tbsp cayenne
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 8 brioche buns
- Prepare the tartar sauce. Combine the mayonnaise with dill pickles, dill, lemon juice, and sugar. Let sit for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
- Make the vinegary cabbage. Combine the vinegar with boiling water, sugar, salt, and mustard seeds, stirring until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Pour the liquid over the cabbage and let sit for 30 minutes.
- Pat dry the cod fillets and season both sides with salt and pepper. Whisk together the egg with beer, all-purpose flour, and hot sauce until well-combined. Add the fish to the batter, turning to coat, and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheating frying oil to 375 degrees F.
- Remove the fish from the batter and coat with breadcrumbs, making sure to evenly coat both sides. Carefully drop the fish into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes. Remove the fish from the oil and place on paper towels to drain the excess oil.
- Combine the melted butter with 1-2 tbsp cayenne (depending on how spicy you want your sandwich), brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and salt. Generously drizzle the chili butter over the fish.
- Assemble the sandwiches. Spread the tartar sauce on the bottom bun, top it with a fish filet, vinegary cabbage, and the remaining bun. Serve immediately.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
If you like seafood, spicy, and sandwiches, you've come to the right place. This Nashville fried fish sandwich hits the spot when you want something that will wake up your taste buds.
Whenever I fry fish, I usually use a standard beer batter. I wanted to incorporate that same batter for this recipe but added an extra step of coating the fish in breadcrumbs. Whisk together the egg with flour, beer, and hot sauce and marinate the fish in the batter for 10 minutes. I personally prefer IPAs, light ales, or lagers so that the beer flavor isn't overpowering. You can also swap out the all-purpose flour for gluten-free.
I chose cod for this recipe but any other firm white fish, such as halibut, pollock, haddock, or catfish will also work.
Bread the fish in breadcrumbs (not panko!) and deep-fry them until golden brown.
While the fish is resting, throw together the seasoned butter by combining melted warm butter with the spices. Adjust the amount of cayenne pepper according to your preference. Brush on that heavenly butter on the fish, giving a generous slab of all the spices.
Now this Nashville fried fish sandwich wouldn't be complete without the toppings. Make the tartar sauce and vinegary cabbage to add lovely contrasts to the spicy fish.
Assemble the sandwiches, topping buttery brioche buns with the tartar sauce, fried fish, and vinegary cabbage. If you're feeling extra dangerous, drizzle a little extra butter on top.
In my head, I thought this Nashville fried fish sandwich was going to be a pretty good sandwich. In reality, it was amazing. It's got the best of both worlds, both the classic fish sandwich and Nashville sandwich combined into one. And it's glorious.