Most local fish fries are as much a story of food as they are community, history and service.
And when it comes to a fish fry helmed by the Corpus Christi Fryers this couldn't be more true. Now in its 29th year, the group was formed by a group of parents who banded together in 1990 over deep-fried, golden flaky fish as a way to fund the athletic association at Corpus Christi School.
For the first decade the group did one or two fish fries a year, but expanded over the years to help other parishes and events in the community. This year the group will put on seven fish fries at five different locations, frying up more than 3,000 pounds of fish.
Their first fish fry of the season took place Jan. 12 at Holy Angels on Brown Street during the first big snow of the season. The food was everything you would hope for and more thanks to quality ingredients and smart preparation.
The Icelandic Cod they use has been caught in deep cold water — the colder the water, the better the fish. Their sides include fries, cole slaw, baked beans, mac and cheese and homemade deserts that perfectly complement the piles of crispy, flaky delicious fried fish. The group prides itself on not using any prepared or pre-packaged food and it tasted like it.
"We will start preparing for a fish fry, depending of the size of the fry, some six to four hours before the start time of the fry. All of us prepare the food, serve the food and clean up after the fry is over. The prep works includes ... cutting and breading the fish, putting the cole slaw together, doctoring up the baked beans, making mac and cheese, cooking the sausage, making cocktail sauce and making sure the other condiments are ready to put out," said Jim Rougier, one of the group’s founders..
Each year the largest event the Corpus Christi Fryers put on is the CJ Alumni Fish Fry (happening March 23 this year).
"We prepare all the food in their kitchen, bring in extra fryers, and call in our extra volunteers to make the fry work," said Rougier. "We usually serve around 1,200 to 1,400 people. We cook, depending on the size, some 600 to 800 pounds of fish. This is by far the biggest fish fry we do."
Fish fries are reunions, they are community get- togethers, they are fundraisers, they are a way to give back and they are a real treat when it comes to enjoying a great meal and a good time — especially where the Corpus Christi Fish Fryers are concerned.
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What makes it great?
What does Rougier think makes his fish fries great? A few things …
1) “It has to be the product that we put out. Our fish is a high quality product that is hard to beat.”
2) “The people that have come to our fish fries over the past 27 years.”
3) “The music we play while we are cooking.”
4) “27 years of success and always making our fish fries work no matter what happens.”
5) “We never run out of fish.”
6) And most importantly their special recipe …
“(Our special recipe) is the people who make up the Corpus Christi Fryers. We are all in some way connected with Corpus Christi. Many of us have either attended Corpus Christi school, long time members of the parish, worked at the parish, or have gone to Chaminade … We all enjoy putting on a fish fry. Everybody does what needs to be done to make the fish fry work,” said Rougier.
“The best way to experience our fish fry is to experience for yourself. Come and enjoy the best fish you will ever eat.”
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