Cornmeal-Crusted Fish with Green-Tomato Tartar Sauce

When they're in South Carolina, the Lees make this recipe with wreckfish, a local, sustainable catch; striped bass works, too. They advise leaving the skin on the fish because it crisps up so nicely. More Sustainable Seafood Recipes

Cornmeal-Crusted Fish with Green-Tomato Tartar Sauce
Photo: Photo © Fredrika Stjärne
Total Time:
30 mins


Tartar Sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise

  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 2/3 cup Green-Tomato Pickles, chopped, or store-bought pickled tomatoes


  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons stone-ground cornmeal

  • 4 teaspoons salt

  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Eight 7- to 8-ounce wreckfish or striped bass fillets, pin bones removed

  • Vegetable oil, for frying


  1. In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise and buttermilk. Fold in the Green Tomato Pickles, season the sauce with salt and pepper and refrigerate until chilled.

  2. Put the butter- milk and flour in 2 separate pie plates. Whisk the cornmeal into the flour along with the salt and pepper. Dip the fish fillets on both sides in the buttermilk, allowing the excess to drip back into the pie plate. Dredge the fish in the flour mixture, pressing to help it adhere. Transfer the fish to a baking sheet.

  3. Heat 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in each of 2 large skillets until shimmering. Sprinkle the fish with more of the flour mixture and add the fillets to the skillets, skin side up. Cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden and cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the fish on a paper towel–lined baking sheet. Serve right away, with the tartar sauce.

Make Ahead

The tartar sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Suggested Pairing

A substantial fried fish pairs well with a full-bodied white like Viognier.

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