Try the Hatteras village fish fry; it’s a tradition

Published 8:04 am Wednesday, August 1, 2018

On summertime Saturday evenings, golden fish filets and hushpuppies are served up at the Hatteras village fish fry.

Village memories are a little fuzzy about when this tradition started.

A sign outside the Hatteras Volunteer Fire Department says “since 1955.” Back then, a big iron skillet and a pot for hushpuppies over a fire on the open beach were used to prepare the dinners.

Now, the fish fry is in the center of Hatteras Village at the volunteer fire department.

Out back of the department, a screened outdoor fry shack harbors the commercial cooking equipment and the experienced volunteer men who know how to take the heat and turn out good food. Inside the station, Hatteras women form the serving line.

Added to the fish and hushpuppies are potato salad, coleslaw and iced tea for a supper Saturday supper.

The fish fry opens at 5 p.m. and stays open until 7 p.m. or until the fish runs out.

Before the fish fry opens, crews of volunteers work to prepare the evening’s feast.

Around 7:30 or 8 a.m., a crew makes tartar sauce, cuts lemons, makes coleslaw, chops onions, readies purchased potato salad and iced tea.

Around 3 p.m., another crew comes to wash and bread the locally caught fish that comes from Jeffrey’s Seafood.

At 4 p.m., the cooking crew arrives to get the cook shack ready and start cooking fish and hushpuppies.

Inside the station, a crew is mixing hushpuppies and setting up serving tables.

The servers arrive about 10 minutes before the fish fry opens at 5 p.m.

This is the fourth year Mary Ellon Ballance has been leading this Saturday tradition. She keeps the inventory, pays the bills, places orders and deposits the money. Ballance assumed the responsibility after Linda O’Neal retired from volunteering since 1981.

At the end of the season, four village groups receive the proceeds from the fish fries. The Hatteras Village Civic Association for scholarships, the fire department’s Auxiliary for donations to many community organizations, the volunteer fire department for special events, and the Hatteras United Methodist Church for the pastor’s discretionary fund and more.

So, what goes into the breading mix, the hushpuppies, the coleslaw and tartar sauce?

Breading the fish. The fish are soaked or washed in water, salted, then breaded with a mix of yellow and white cornmeal and pancake flour with black pepper added.

Hushpuppies call for milk, egg, white and yellow cornmeal, pancake flour, sugar, baking powder and those chopped sweet Vidalia onions.

Coleslaw has shredded and chopped green and red cabbage and carrots. The dressing is made with mayonnaise, sugar and apple cider vinegar.

Tatar sauce is mixed using mayonnaise, pickle relish and dill weed.

And it all comes together for a summer Saturday fish fry in Hatteras village.

Want to go?

What: Hatteras village fish fry

When: Every summer Saturday, 5-7 p.m.

Where: Hatteras Fire Station, 57689 NC 12