Many North Carolinians are in the midst of observing Lent, a Christian tradition that marks a time of repentance, fasting, and preparation for Easter. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts for 40 days, usually ending around Easter Sunday.

During Lent, many abstain from certain foods or luxuries. Catholics, in particular, abstain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent and opt for fish instead. The reason for this is surprisingly more economic and political, than it is religious, but does anyone really need an excuse to enjoy delicious Raleigh seafood?

Friday Fish Fry During Lent

Many Raleigh churches host community fish frys during Lent For a small fee, you can enjoy a plate of fried fish as well as mingle and support fellow Lent observers. However, for those Fridays when you just want to stay in and observe Lent quietly, here are a couple of our favorite fried fish recipes:

Cod Croquettes

This recipe has some prep work, but it’s well worth the effort!


  • 1/2 pound skinless, boneless North Carolina cod fillets
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • vegetable oil
  • Lemon wedges


In a medium bowl, cover the cod with cold water and soak in the refrigerator for 24 hours or for up to 2 days. Change the water at least three times.

Drain the cod; transfer to a large saucepan. Add the milk, thyme, bay leaf, and some of the minced garlic. Pour in enough water to cover the fish by 2 inches. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, until the fish flakes with a fork. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fish to a plate and let cool. Flake the fish.

Add the potatoes to the saucepan and simmer until tender (about 10 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to a large bowl along with 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid; mash to a coarse puree.

In a small skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the shallot and minced garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened about 4 minutes. Scrape the mixture into the bowl with the potatoes. Add the cod, cilantro, and egg yolk. Stir until blended. Refrigerate the mixture until chilled, at least 30 minutes.

In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs with 1 teaspoon of water. Put the flour and breadcrumbs in shallow bowls. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Form the salt cod mixture into 1-tablespoon-size balls. Dredge the balls in flour, dip them in the beaten eggs, and coat with the breadcrumbs. Arrange the croquettes on the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate until chilled, about 10 minutes.

Fill a large, deep skillet with 1/2 inch of vegetable oil and heat until shimmering. Working in 2 batches, fry the croquettes over high heat, turning once or twice, until golden all over, about 4 minutes; drain on paper towels. Transfer the croquettes to a platter and serve with lemon wedges.

Cornmeal Catfish Fingers

This is a simple recipe if you don’t have a lot of time to cook.


  • 3 cups canola oil
  • 1 1/2  pounds fresh North Carolina catfish fillets
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup cornmeal


Add oil to a deep skillet to about  3/4-inch depth. Heat oil over medium-high heat to about 350 degrees F. Combine the fish, salt, and cayenne in a medium-size bowl, toss to combine, and set aside. Place cornmeal in a baking dish and set aside. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside. Coat the fish with cornmeal and add a few pieces at a time to the oil. Fry the slices until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet to drain. Serve hot!

Enjoy Fried Fish Every Day at the NC Farmers Market Restaurant

Whether you are craving fried fish during Lent or any other day of the year, visit the NC Seafood Restaurant at the NC Farmers Market in Raleigh or check out our online menu. We serve the freshest calabash-style seafood in the Triangle. Join us for a fried fish feast or order online any day of the week. We are open Monday-Saturday from 11am-8pm and on Sundays from 11am-5pm.