Southern Fried Mullet

With summer just around the corner,
Unless you’re reading this in September,
You may want to try something new
To spice up your season.
Yes, you can play baseball or football,
Or go fishing or drag racing.
With the possibilities endless,
You may want to try a little of everything.

But, may I suggest something?
Try my favorite recipe:
Southern Fried Mullet!
It’s simply delectable.

Now, don’t let the name intimidate you.
It is much simpler to make than you realize.
You just need a pot and a few ingredients,
And you can be on your way to summer spice.

Before you can manage a hot, crisp mullet,
You need to acquire these items;
Remember, we do things differently
Down here in the South.
If you want a “Northern Fried Mullet,”
You’ll simply have to change your ingredients
According to your style.
But I don’t recommend doing anything “northern.”

First you need a medium-sized pot,
Perfect for holding plenty of water.
You’ll also want to grab a fry pan or skillet,
Perhaps the one you threw at your spouse last night.
Without these necessary kitchen aids,
You won’t get much frying done on that mullet,
So make sure you’ve got at least one of each.
It doesn’t matter if they’re clean.

Next you’ll want some “southern ingredients,”
Like onions, okra, peppers, and cheese.
Get creative!
Frying mullet is a celebration.
Be spontaneous.
If you don’t have the “right” ingredients,
Then you can use the next best stuff.

Most importantly, be sure you have the mullet.
You can’t fry a mullet if you don’t have the mullet.
Terrible people have tried, and disaster befell them.
Don’t fry a mullet if you don’t actually have the mullet.
Also, stock your cabinets with oil and breadcrumbs.
Down here in the South,
We love our breadcrumbs.
We bathe in breadcrumbs.

Once you’ve confirmed your ingredients,
Fill the pot with ten cups of water
And bring it to a slow boil.
Or, bring it to a fast boil; it doesn’t matter.

While you wait for the pot,
Spread butter and oil across the skillet,
Then set your burner on “high.”
Mullets need to sizzle before they fry,
And nothing says sizzle,
Like a mullet set to “high.”
Once you hear the gentle rolling pops,
Turn the burner down to “medium.”
By then the butter should be oil thin,
And the mullet should be ready
For its ten-minute date
With the fry pan.

When the pot water boils,
Toss in all your ingredients at once.

You may have noticed we skipped a step:
Measuring the amount of onions, peppers, etc. you need.
Like the speed of the boil,
The amount you use is contingent on preference.
Use as much as you’d like.
Remember that more onions means more spice,
And more peppers means more heat.
When you fry your mullet, you’ll want heat and spice.

Once your kitchen fills with steam,
It’ll be time to put the mullet in the pan.
Slow the boil down to “low,”
Then cover if your pot has a top.
Between the onions, okra, peppers, and cheese,
You’ll have a soup in the making.
A good fried mullet goes best with soup.
It’s how we do things here in the South.

Did you remember to grab a bottle of oil?
Now’s the time to bring it to action.
Measure two cups of oil with your favorite cup
And gently begin pouring it onto the mullet.
The mullet should be doused in oil
Before it hits the pan.
Doing so will soften its texture.
Then roll it through a plate of breadcrumbs.

Once the mullet is properly prepped,
You may finally set it in the fry pan.

Now, be careful with this step.
Be very careful.
For, you won’t want to burn yourself
On the pan or skillet.

Always use caution when frying a mullet;
I recommend you call on a parent or a friend
To help guide you to the pan,
As you gently lean over and tilt your head—
Grip the edge of the stove tightly,
For you’ll want to keep balanced,
As your oil-soaked hair sizzles in butter
For the next ten scary minutes.

Don’t worry!
That burning smell is expected.

Once your ten minutes are up,
Promptly remove your hair from the pan,
And grab a dishtowel to protect your neck
From the excruciating heat that may follow.
Just stick it between your hair
And the back of your neck.
It’ll be enough to prevent a rash.
But you might still have a red neck.

Finally, as your fried mullet begins to cool,
Lean over the pot and remove the lid.
You should be ready to soak it in the soup
And give it its final texture.
Let it sit in the cauldron for about three minutes.
Once the gooey cheese soaks in,
And the onions, okra, and peppers marinate the hair,
You can pull it out of the pot and turn off the burners.

Then: Viola! Southern Fried Mullet,
Just in time for summer,
Or fall or winter or spring.
Perfect for that fashion statement,
You’ve been wanting to make,
Proving that chicken nugget-skinned hair
Is just as stylish as gel or purple dye.
And that’s how we do it here in the South.

Oh, and just to be clear,
If you thought this recipe
Had anything to do with frying fish,
You should know by now,
I mean really know by now,
That we don’t care about that kind of mullet.
That’s not how we do things
Down here in the South.
You should really do your research
Before simply following orders.

–Jeremy Bursey

Note: This is part of series I’ve been working on in spurts since 2000, called “My First Mullet,” a collection of poetry (and other writing styles) about man’s struggle with trends, popularity, bad decisions, and bad hair. The majority of these works were written this year.

I’m aiming to have these assembled into a printed collection sometime in November. More information on that in future blogs.