Friday, February 20, 2009

Beer-Battered Fish

When you make this recipe, you will notice that the batter is very thick. You'll need a good, stout set of tongs or possibly a gloved hand to get the fish immersed into the batter and coated with it. However, a sturdy batter really is required to stand up to all the heat of deep-frying. Since it is so thick, it protects the fish from drying out; in fact, thinner pieces of fish work really well here, when normally they have a tendency to dry out or become brittle.

Traditionally, fried fish is served with french fries (i.e. chips). Using frozen fries that have been parboiled prior to freezing is the easiest way to go (frying fresh, raw potatoes is kind of a pain, since it requires two fryings, a lower-temperature one to soften the insides and a higher-temperature one to crisp the outsides). So if using frozen fries, just cook according to package directions and then keep in a 200 degree oven while the fish cooks up. Also, since the batter needs to rest 15-60 minutes before putting on the fish, making fries is a good way to make use of that time.

  • 1 gallon of oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds of tilapia, cod, halibut or any other firm whitefish, cut into 1-ounce strips
  • Cornstarch in a pie pan for dredging
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon seafood seasoning (e.g. Old Bay)
  • 1 bottle beer, cold

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and seasoning. Whisk in the beer until the batter is smooth and lump-free. Refrigerate for 15 minutes (up to 1 hour). Heat oil to 350 degrees. Lightly dredge the fish in the cornstarch. Working in small batches (2 or 3 pieces), batter the fish and gently place into the hot oil. When the batter is set, flip the pieces over in the oil and fry for another 2-3 minutes, or until deep golden brown. (Note: Pieces that are too blonde do not taste very good - the batter is gummy instead of crispy. You're probably better off over-cooking than under-cooking, although just right really would be best.) Drain on a wire rack and season with a little kosher salt. Serve with malt vinegar and tartar sauce.

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