Momma Needy’s Smothered Fish

Gullah cooking is perhaps one of the most familiar aspects of the culture for most visitors to the low country. Like other soul food, it acts as a universal language that connects people to one another. Authentic Gullah restaurants are somewhat rare, but well worth a visit. This simple recipe for fish found local to Hilton Head calls for the most basic ingredients, yet is a perfect way to enjoy a fresh catch after a day on the beach. This recipe is courtesy of the Gullah Heritage Tour and comes from the grandmother of tour owner Irvin Campbell.

Serves 4



1.5 to 2 pound mullet or croacker, cleaned with heads still attached

1 yellow onion

Salt and pepper to taste

All purpose flour to coat fish

¼ cup vegetable or olive oil



Rinse fish and pat dry with a paper towel. Depending on size, keep whole or cut into large pieces and season with salt and pepper. Coat fish in flour by shaking two to three pieces at a time in plastic or paper bag until evenly coated. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet. Add fish two to three pieces at a time without crowding skillet. Turn fish pieces until browned on all sides and transfer to a plate.

Remove all except one tablespoon of oil from skillet. Add onion and sauté until softened. Return fish to skillet and place onion on top of fish pieces. Slowly add a half cup of water to the skillet. Cover and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. Season to taste.


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