It’s a brief soak in vinegar before the cooking begins that gives these lightly fried cod filets an extraordinary one-two punch of tenderness and subtle sweetness. Dredging in a seasoned rice flour gives the end result a shatteringly crisp, perfectly golden outer layer (no worries if you don’t have rice flour, the regular all-purpose stuff will do the job). Serve these with a big pile of dressed greens and a few wedges of lemon.
- Portion your fish into 1 ½-2 inch nuggets, nestle them in a glass baking dish or container where they can lay mostly flat and snug against the bottom and cover with white vinegar (use only as much vinegar as you need to just cover the fish). Shake your container a bit to make sure the vinegar settles amongst and in between your pieces of fish. Let the fish sit at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour (if longer than 15 minutes, cover and return to the fridge to keep chilled).
- Prepare the breading: in a shallow dish or bowl combine the rice flour, salt, and spices (if using) and whisk to combine. Have it ready beside your stovetop so you can go straight from your breading into your pan.
- Set a 10" cast iron skillet or stainless steel pan (tall sided, if you have it) on the stove and heat your oil over medium low heat (you need enough so that it comes at least a quarter of the way up the sides of your fish). Have ready a plate or pan lined with brown paper or a paper towel to drain your fish.
- Test your oil by dropping a pinch of the flour blend into the pan, if it shows an immediate and steady bubbling, it's ready.
- After the 15 minutes has passed, drain your fish from the vinegar. Transfer your fish to a paper towel and dab to dry well. Dip fish pieces in your rice flour blend to coat on all sides and add to your pan. You will want to fry in a few batches to prevent crowding.
- Cook fish for 4-5 minutes until you can see a golden color creeping up the sides and the fish should release easily from the pan for flipping. Flip using tongs or a fish spatula and cook on the other side until lightly golden and crisp, another 3-5 minutes.
- As ready, transfer your fish to your pan to drain, sprinkling with a pinch of additional salt.
- When ready to serve, juice lemon over the top and serve in a small mound along with soy sauce seasoned mayonnaise, to dip or atop a salad.