Virginia Spots Recipe – Easy Kitchen Guide

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By Lori Walker, MS, RD | Published on February 29, 2024 | Last Updated on February 29, 2024

Welcome to a culinary journey that takes you to the heart of Southern cuisine. Today, we’re going to explore a classic and beloved dish, the Virginia Spots recipe. This dish, featuring the locally renowned Spots fish, is a staple in many homes across Virginia and beyond. Following traditional ingredients like self-rising flour, cornmeal, salt, and black pepper, we create a crunchy, flavorful coating that’s perfect for frying.

The result? A delightfully crispy exterior that gives way to tender, flaky fish. Paired with your favorite sides, this Virginia Spots recipe promises a meal that’s not only steeped in regional tradition but also incredibly delicious. So grab your apron, heat that cooking oil, and let’s dive into the art of preparing Virginia Spots!

Virginia Spots Recipe

What are Virginia spots?

Virginia Spots, also known as Striped Bass or Rockfish, is a type of fish commonly found in the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding areas. It is a beloved staple in Southern cuisine and has been an important part of the region’s food culture for centuries. The fish itself is known for its firm white flesh and mild flavor, making it perfect for a variety of cooking methods.

The history of Virginia Spots dates back to the Native American tribes who inhabited the Chesapeake Bay region. They were the first to fish for and consume this delicious fish, often smoking and drying it for preservation. When English settlers arrived in the area in the early 1600s, they quickly adopted this local delicacy into their cuisine.

As the popularity of Virginia Spots grew, it became a major commercial fishery and an important source of sustenance for many communities in the region.

Why You’ll Love this Virginia Spots?

Aside from being a long-standing tradition in Southern cuisine, there are many reasons why you’ll love this Virginia Spots recipe. For starters, the fish itself is incredibly versatile and can be prepared in various ways – fried, baked, grilled, or even poached. This means you can cater to your tastes and cooking preferences while still enjoying the unique flavor of Virginia Spots.

Additionally, the homemade coating used in this recipe is made with simple and readily available ingredients. This means you can easily recreate this dish at home without having to make a trip to the grocery store for obscure items. Plus, the crunchy texture and delicious seasoning of the coating perfectly complement the delicate flavor of the fish, making each bite a true delight.

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The Ingredients 

  1. Self-Rising Flour (8 cups): This is a key ingredient in the batter for frying the Spots. Self-rising flour combines all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt, eliminating the need for additional leavening agents. It helps to create a light, airy batter that crisps up beautifully when fried. Its rising properties ensure that the coating puffs up slightly during frying, creating a more substantial and satisfying crunch.
  2. Cornmeal (4 cups): Cornmeal is another integral component of the batter. It contributes a distinctive, slightly sweet corn flavor and a wonderful texture contrast to the self-rising flour. Its coarser grind gives the batter an extra crunch, creating a delightful contrast to the tender fish inside. It’s also a nod to Southern cooking traditions, where cornmeal is often used in frying recipes.
  3. Salt (4 teaspoons): Salt is essential in any savory dish as it enhances the natural flavors of the ingredients. In this recipe, season the batter, ensuring every bite of the Spots is flavorful. Without it, the batter might taste bland, despite the other ingredients.
  4. Black Pepper (2 teaspoons): Black pepper adds a subtle heat to the batter, complementing the salt and providing a depth of flavor. It’s a simple way to add complexity to the dish without overpowering the delicate flavor of the Spots.
  5. Cooking Oil: The type of oil used for frying can greatly affect the final taste and texture of the dish. Oils with high smoke points, such as vegetable or canola oil, are typically recommended for frying as they can be heated to high temperatures without burning. The double frying method ensures the fish is cooked through and the coating is extra crispy.
  6. Spots (4-8 lbs): The star of the show, Spots is a type of panfish prevalent in Virginia waters. They’re known for their sweet, delicate flavor and flaky texture. This type of fish is ideal for frying due to its thin fillets, which cook quickly and evenly. The mild flavor also pairs well with the seasoned batter, resulting in a harmonious blend of tastes and textures.
How to Make Virginia Spots Recipe

Step by Step Instructions 

Step 1: Clean and Debone the Spots

  • Begin by thoroughly cleaning and deboning the Spots.
  • Rinse them under cold water, pat dry with paper towels, and remove any visible bones or scales.

Step 2: Prepare the Batter

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the self-rising flour, cornmeal, salt, and black pepper.
  • Mix well until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.

Step 3: Heat the Cooking Oil

  • Pour enough cooking oil into a large, deep skillet to reach a depth of 2-3 inches.
  • Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches approximately 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 4: Set Up for Frying

  • While the oil is heating up, prepare a baking sheet lined with paper towels for draining the fried fish.

Step 5: Coat the Fillets

  • Using tongs or your hands, dip each fillet into the batter mixture, ensuring it is evenly coated on all sides.

Step 6: Fry the Fish

  • Carefully place the batter-covered fillets into the hot oil, making sure not to overcrowd the pan.
  • Fry for approximately 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy.

Step 7: Drain the Fried Fish

  • Remove the fried fish from the skillet using a slotted spoon or tongs and place them on the prepared baking sheet to drain excess oil.

Step 8: Double Fry for Crispy Coating

  • Once all the fish has been fried, increase the heat of the oil slightly.
  • Fry the fish a second time for an additional 1-2 minutes per side. This double-frying method ensures that the coating is extra crispy while also ensuring that the fish is cooked through.

Step 9: Serve and Enjoy

  • Serve the fried Virginia Spots hot with your choice of sides, and savor the delicious meal you’ve prepared!

Notes 

  • If you don’t have self-rising flour on hand, you can make a homemade version by combining 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder and ¼ teaspoon of salt.
  • For a healthier alternative, you can also bake the coated fish in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 15 minutes or until cooked through.
  • For an extra kick of flavor, you can add spices such as paprika or cayenne pepper to the batter mixture.
  • Don’t discard any leftover batter, as it can be used to make delicious hush puppies or fried pickles.
Virginia Spots Copycat Recipe

Nutrition Information

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How to store Virginia spots?

  • Store cooked Virginia Spots in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • To reheat, place the fish on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until heated through.
  • You can also freeze cooked Virginia Spots for up to 1 month. To thaw, place them in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
  • For best results, reheat the frozen fish in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 15 minutes or until heated through.

It’s best served fresh for optimal taste and texture. So, if possible, try to fry only the amount of fish you plan on eating in one sitting.

Variations 

  • For a twist on the classic recipe, try using different types of fish or adding herbs and spices to the batter mixture.
  • Serve with tartar sauce, lemon wedges, or hot sauce for dipping.
  • Pair with traditional Southern sides such as coleslaw, mac and cheese, or hush puppies.
Virginia Spots Copycat Recipe

Virginia Spots Recipe

Welcome to a culinary journey that takes you to the heart of Southern cuisine. Today, we’re going to explore a classic and beloved dish, the Virginia Spots recipe.
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Author: Lori Walker, MS, RD
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American, Southern
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Total Time: 16 minutes
Calories: 174kcal

Ingredients

  • 8 cups Self-Rising Flour
  • Cooking Oil
  • 4 cup Cornmeal
  • 4 –8 lbs of Spots
  • 4 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 teaspoon Black Pepper

Instructions

Step 1: Clean And Debone The Spots

  • Begin by thoroughly cleaning and deboning the Spots.
  • Rinse them under cold water, pat dry with paper towels, and remove any visible bones or scales.

Step 2: Prepare The Batter

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the self-rising flour, cornmeal, salt, and black pepper.
  • Mix well until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.

Step 3: Heat The Cooking Oil

  • Pour enough cooking oil into a large, deep skillet to reach a depth of 2-3 inches.
  • Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches approximately 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 4: Set Up For Frying

  • While the oil is heating up, prepare a baking sheet lined with paper towels for draining the fried fish.

Step 5: Coat The Fillets

  • Using tongs or your hands, dip each fillet into the batter mixture, ensuring it is evenly coated on all sides.

Step 6: Fry The Fish

  • Carefully place the batter-covered fillets into the hot oil, making sure not to overcrowd the pan.
  • Fry for approximately 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy.

Step 7: Drain The Fried Fish

  • Remove the fried fish from the skillet using a slotted spoon or tongs and place them on the prepared baking sheet to drain excess oil.

Step 8: Double Fry For Crispy Coating

  • Once all the fish has been fried, increase the heat of the oil slightly.
  • Fry the fish a second time for an additional 1-2 minutes per side. This double-frying method ensures that the coating is extra crispy while also ensuring that the fish is cooked through.

Step 9: Serve And Enjoy

  • Serve the fried Virginia Spots hot with your choice of sides, and savor the delicious meal you’ve prepared!

Notes

  • If you don’t have self-rising flour on hand, you can make a homemade version by combining 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder and ¼ teaspoon of salt.
  • For a healthier alternative, you can also bake the coated fish in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 15 minutes or until cooked through.
  • For an extra kick of flavor, you can add spices such as paprika or cayenne pepper to the batter mixture.
  • Don’t discard any leftover batter, as it can be used to make delicious hush puppies or fried pickles.
Keyword: Virginia Spots Recipe

FAQs

Why is the double-frying method used in this recipe?

Double frying is a technique often used in frying recipes to achieve an extra crispy and golden exterior. The first fry cooks the fish and sets the batter, while the second fry crisps up the coating to perfection. This ensures that the fish is thoroughly cooked and that the batter has a satisfying crunch.

Can I use another type of fish if I can’t find Spots?

Yes, you can. Spots are traditional for this Virginia recipe due to their sweet, delicate flavor and flaky texture. If you are unable to access Virginia Spots, you can substitute with other types of whitefish such as catfish or tilapia. However, the taste and texture may differ slightly from the traditional recipe.

Why is cornmeal used in the batter?

Cornmeal is commonly used in Southern cooking traditions, especially in frying recipes. It adds a distinctive, slightly sweet corn flavor and a wonderful texture contrast to the self-rising flour. Its coarser grind gives the batter an extra crunch, creating a delightful contrast to the tender fish inside.

Can I bake the fish instead of frying it?

While baking is a healthier alternative, frying gives the Spots their signature crispy texture and deepens the flavors. If you do decide to bake, keep in mind that the texture and taste will be different from the traditional fried version. You might need to adjust the cooking time as well – baked fish generally takes longer to cook than fried.

Wrapping Up

Fried Virginia Spots are a popular and beloved dish in the state, known for its crispy batter and delicate, flaky fish. With these step-by-step instructions, you can recreate this Southern classic at home and impress your friends and family with your cooking skills.

So go ahead and give it a try – we guarantee you won’t be disappointed! Also, don’t forget to share your creations with us and let us know how it turned out. Happy frying!

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Lori-Walker

My name is Lori Walker. I’m a registered dietitian, food blogger and food enthusiast. I share easy healthy, delicious recipes on my blog and review necessary kitchen items. The recipes I share take less… Read more

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