April 13 2017

Surviving A King's Inn Fried Fish Faux Pas

A four-hour round trip from Laredo to Riviera just to have a fried fish lunch seemed like a stretch for this Midwest lad who had frequented many a Friday night fish fry in his day.

However, remembering the plates and plates of fresh fried fish straight from the Missouri River was enough incentive to accept the lunch invitation from Old Gene.

The trip was also a temporary reprieve from an 80-hour-plus work week being endured by a 19-year-old Laredo AFB newspaper editor.

Our destination was the King's Inn -- sitting right on the shore of Baffin Bay and serving up the best fried shrimp, oysters, redfish and onion rings that can be found anywhere on the planet.

Those who have enjoyed the fresh fried delicacies heap high praise on the family-style offerings. Those fish fans who have not been there are advised to put the trip on their bucket list.

Arriving at the restaurant after our two-hour drive, Old Gene ordered for everyone in our group and specifically requested a plate of fried redfish for his Air Force guest.

"This tastes just like carp," was the comment when that first bite of redfish was swallowed.

Everyone at the table and even diners at nearby tables froze in mid-bite to cast what can only be described as the "evil eye" at the King's Inn newbie.

"It's a compliment! I mean it really tastes great! Please don't kill me!,'' saved the day and everyone went back to their savory dining delights.

Explaining to Old Gene that Nebraska fish fry nights often featured carp and that the fish, when properly prepared, can be quite tasty, defused the situation to everyone's satisfaction.

That was lucky for a King's Inn first-timer as it would have been a long walk back to Laredo.

In addition to the excellent fried dishes, King's Inn is also famous for a spicy condiment -- kind of a cross between a sauce and a dip -- served with every meal.

Whether eaten on crackers, dolloped on a salad or used as a sauce slathered on the fried offerings, the creation is a fabulous taste treat.

The following is a close copy of the sauce/dip (the actual King's Inn recipe is a closely guarded secret) created with quite a bit of experimentation.

It even tastes good on fried carp -- that's a compliment!

Chef Ralph's Almost King's Inn Sauce/Dip

3 cups Kraft's Miracle Whip 
1 cup Duke's Mayonnaise 
1/2 stalk celery, chopped fine 
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped 
1 tablespoon chopped pimentos 
3 green onions, including tops, chopped fine 
3 small sweet red peppers, chopped fine
3 hard-boiled egg yolks, chopped  
1 teaspoon chili pequin (or red pepper) powder
1 tablespoon Frank's Hot Sauce
2.5 ounces grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tube (1.6 ounces) anchovy paste spread on 12 Ritz crackers, plus 18 additional Ritz crackers

Combine Kraft's Miracle Whip and Duke's Mayonnaise (yes, the brand makes a difference) in a large bowl and set aside in a cool place. Place celery, garlic, pimentos, green onions, red peppers and hard-boiled egg yolks in a food processor and process until minced. Add chili pequin powder, Frank's Hot Sauce, grapefruit juice and Worcestershire sauce to food processor and blend well. Add to Miracle Whip/mayonnaise mixture and blend well. Spread anchovy paste on a Ritz cracker and top with another cracker. Place the six cracker sandwiches in the food processor, along with the additional Ritz crackers and blend until the mixture looks like a grainy paste. Stir the processed cracker mix into the other mixture until well blended. Refrigerate until well chilled. Makes a great dip for crackers; super dressing for a salad; and a wonderful sauce for fresh fried shrimp, oysters and fish.

Now, let's get eating!