Delroy Roberts is standing over a huge pot of bubbling hot oil, gently slipping coated filets of whiting and porgie in to boil. It’s the annual fish fry at the Westbury Methodist Church (WUMC) and Delroy, the president of the church’s men’s group, is part of the team of men making sure this fundraiser is a success.
Church member Henry L. Mack said that the monies raised support a variety of community groups that include Westbury’s Neighborhood House, St. Andrew’s food program, the Far Rockaway Mission that helps feed and clothe needy people and the food pantry at the church. Additionally, it is their goal to raise enough money so that each high school graduate who is going to attend college is given a grant to help them in their new endeavor. “We make it and we give it back,” said Delroy.
A fish fry is a popular fundraiser held throughout the U.S. In the northeast, battered or breaded haddock and cod are popular; in the midwest, particularly Wisconsin, the fish is typically beer battered cod, perch, and walleye; and in the southeast, typical fish are bream, catfish, flounder and bass.
“They do it a lot down south and the Caribbean,” said Delroy. “Anywhere close to the water, you’ll find someone frying fish.”
This is a men-only effort. “The women were seasoning the fish,” said Delroy, “but we kicked them out.”
Ten years ago, the annual Methodist Church fish fry was named in memory of Cornell Adams, who tragically died in a home fire about 10 years ago. “Cornell used to sit there on his chair,” recalls Delroy, “and give orders and tell us exactly what to do.”
The recipe comes from Gregory Adams, a relative of Cornell, who traditionally fries the fish, but Delroy took on the job this year. He used Adams’ recipe, with a little of his own twist.
In addition to two filets of fried fish, the plate includes generous helpings of macaroni salad, coleslaw, corn on the cob and watermelon for dessert. Pastor Sheila Beckford reports that more than 100 platters were served at the most recent fish fry.
Gregory Adams/Delroy Roberts Fish Fry
This was enough for more than 200 fish, so you’ll need to cut this recipe down to size for a smaller event.
Make dry seasoning:
1 cup Zatarain’s Seafood Seasoning
1 cup Aunt Jemima yellow cornmeal
2 cups flour
2 tbsp. paprika
1. Clean fish filets by rinsing in lemon juice.
2. Season fish with black pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and just a bit of chili powder
3. Coat the fish in dry seasoning and fry in 350 degree oil (canola high fry oil)