This section is from the book "Philadelphia Cook Book: A Manual Of Home Economies", by Sarah Tyson Heston Rorer. Also available from Amazon: Philadelphia Cook Book.
"Small fish should swim twice, once in 7valer and once in oil"
Perch, brook trout, catfish and all small fish are best fried. They should be cleaned, washed well in cold water and immediately wiped dry, inside and outside, with a clean towel, and then sprinkled with salt. Use oil if convenient, as it is very much better than either dripping or lard. Never use butter as it is apt to burn and has a tendency to soften the fish. See that the oil, lard or dripping is botiing hot, before putting in the fish. Throw in a crumb of bread; if it browns quickly, it is hot enough and the fish will not absorb any grease.
To clean them, make a slight opening at the gills, then draw them between the thumb and finger, beginning at the tail. This will press out all the insides. Wash and wipe them. Now sprinkle them with salt; dip them first in beaten eggs, and then in bread crumbs, and fry in boiling fat. Garnish with parsley and slices of lemon, and serve with sauce Tartare.
All small fish may be fried in the same way.
Cut the halibut steak into pieces about two inches square. Beat an egg, same as for fried oysters; season the halibut with salt and pepper, dip first in the egg, then in bread crumbs, and fry a nice brown in boiling fat. Lay on brown paper to drain and serve on a hot dish".
Scale and wash the fish. Trim off the fins and take out the gills. Wipe it dry immediately. Dredge it with salt, pepper and flour. Put four tablespoonfuls of dripping or lard in a frying-pan; when hot, put the fish into it. Brown on one side, then turn and brown on the other. When done, take out carefully, put on a hot dish, garnish with parsley and serve.
Bass, bluefish, porgies, flounders, weakfish and herring may be fried in the same way.