No stodgy, thick battered fish here. Only a thin, crisp layer covers the fish.

A woman I once knew at college would rave about what a great cook she was. “I can cook any cuisine except Eskimo. I used to own and run a restaurant.” I was young but not naive. I have it in my head that it was a seafood restaurant but I could be wrong. One day, I asked her what she would do with the fish at the restaurant that was past its prime. “We dip them in beer and fry them up.” I was quite repulsed. What was I expecting her to say? Perhaps, something along the lines of we just don’t sell them.

Ever since, the thought of beer battered fish did not appeal to me. Then one evening, I was channel surfing and the youthful looking Irish, Donal Skehan, a self styled amateur chef with his infectious smile looked straight into the camera. He was cooking beer battered fish. In his usual rapid fire speed of talking, he vouched that it would be the best battered fish I would ever have cooked and that I had to try it. Who can say no to that face?

Beer batter is the way to go. Don’t you worry if you do not take alcohol as nonalcoholic beer works just as well. Use only the freshest fish you can get your hands on. That’s the only way to eat fish anyway. The beer batter fries up to a light and crisp batter.  As with any fried foods, it will be oily so drain off the oil well.  Scroll down to ‘Tips’ to find out how I try to get rid of as much oil as possible from my battered fish. I like serving my fish and chips with my Coleslaw. Why? It’s so easy to make and I can make it 2 days in advance. Moreover, the cold tangy slaw complements the fried fish and chips.

You will have quite a bit of oil leftover from frying the fish and chips. To not let the oil go to waste, perhaps you would like to try my recipe for Crispy Gluten & Egg Free Corn Fritters – wonderful little fresh corn nuggets with every bite of crispy and not at all doughy fritter.

Beer (Non-Alcoholic/Alcoholic) Battered Fish And Chips

Prep: 15 minutes 
Cook:
Inactive: 10 – 15 minutes
Level: Moderately easy
Serves: ~4
Oven Temperature:
Can recipe be doubled? Yes
Make ahead? No

Ingredients

1.5 lb (680g) firm-flesh white fish fillets
Some all-purpose/plain flour for dusting
3 – 4 cups (750ml – 1 litre) oil for frying
For the batter
1 cup beer (nonalcoholic or alcohol
)3/4cups + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose/plain flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 pepper
For the chips
A bag of frozen french fries.**
Truffle salt and oil to season french fries
OR
just ordinary salt
Condiments
Tartare sauce***
Apple cider vinegar
* You might need more/less.
** Why won’t I prepare my own french fries? It is not worth the time and effort to buy, transport, wash, peel, cut and double fry potatoes to get those crisp chips. Read the label on the bag of frozen french fries to make sure that the ingredients listed are largely potatoes, oil and salt (citric acid is fine) and you can be rest assured that you will have rather good chips to go with the fish. It will likely be better than what you could have prepared from scratch. Quicker to get on the table and less oily too as frozen fries have already been steamed, blanched and pre-fried. Which brand do I favour? Simplot. They supply to a fast food chain that most agree serve the best french fries to come out from a hamburger chain.
*** To make a simple version: mayonnaise, caper berries/capers and/or sweet pickles/gherkins chopped roughly, a little brining liquid from the caper berries/capers and/or sweet pickles/gherkins. Mix gently and season to taste. 


Method

Prep work
1. Check that there are no bones on your fish fillets. Wipe off any excess liquid on the fillets with paper towels. Set aside.
2. Measure out all the dry ingredients for the batter and mix well. Leave that and the can of beer in the refrigerator. Cold batter fries up into crispy batter.
3. You will be using the same oil for frying both the fish and the french fries and you will start off by frying the french fries. Why? It takes longer to cook the french fries than the fish! Anyway, french fries makes for good nibbling as you cook.

Frying the french fries
1. Heat up the oil to 360F (180C). No thermometer? Stick a wooden spoon or chopstick into the hot oil. If you see little bubbles around your wooden implement, the oil should be hot enough.
2. Start off with frying the french fries. Follow the instructions on the back of the bag. Do not overcrowd your frying vessel. The fries will steam instead and will not crisp up. Better to fry them in several batches.
3. Drain on wire racks to remove excess oil. Then transfer onto kitchen paper towels and toss them around to blot off more oil. It then goes back on the wire racks until you are ready to eat.
4. Do not season with salt until you are ready to eat. This prevents them from going limp too quickly. Similarly, if you are using truffle oil, drizzle only before serving.

Have the following ready before frying the fish
The process of battering and frying happens very fast so have the following ready:

(1) draining or cooling rack plus a baking tray to sit under it to catch excess oil.
(2) plenty of tempura paper/kitchen paper towels/oil absorbing paper to blot off excess oil.
(3) a kitchen skimmer or sieve to clear off any impurities from the hot oil.
(4) Have the plate of flour (for dusting) close by the burner.
(5) Premixed dry ingredients and beer

Frying the fish
1. In a large enough pot, fill with enough oil to deep fry the fish (fish has to be able to be  completely submerged).
2. Heat the oil to 360F (180C). When the temperature of the oil has reached 340F (170C), season the fish with salt and pepper.
3. As soon as the temperature of the oil is 360F (180C), prepare the beer batter.
4. Open the can of beer, measure out the 1 cup (and that includes beer foam) and mix it into the pre-measured dry ingredients. Do this quickly so that you keep in as much bubbles as possible. If there are flour lumps, leave them. A few here and there is fine. The consistency of the batter should be a little thicker than whipping cream. It should not be as thick as double/thickened cream. So add more/less beer/flour if required.
5. Dip the fillet in flour, shake off excess, immediately dip into the prepared batter and slide the fish away from you into the hot oil.
6. How long it takes to cook depends on the thickness and length of your fillet. A good gauge would be when the batter turns golden brown.
7. If your fillets are cut the same size as mine (refer to top image), that works out to be about 2 to 3 minutes on one side and maybe 1 to 1.5 minutes on the other side. It will cook pretty fast as the batter is very thin.
8. Drain on wire racks for ~ 5 minutes, then transfer to the paper to drain further. Want to remove even more oil off? Please read ‘Tips’ below.
9. Always serve fish and chips hot. I like them with vinegar and tartare sauce (recipe under ‘Ingredient’ list). Some like it with tabasco sauce. Eat it the way you like.

Tips

How I remove as much oil as possible from battered fried fish

1. After draining most of the oil away on a wire rack, sit the fried fish on tempura paper/kitchen paper towels/oil absorbing paper for a few minutes.
2. Wipe off visible oil with kitchen paper towels and then sit them on clean sheets of tempura paper/kitchen paper towels/oil absorbing paper to absorb any remaining oil.
3. If you are not going to be serving the fish fillets fairly soon, after 1 minute or so of them sitting on the new sheets of tempura paper/kitchen paper towels/oil absorbing paper, transfer them back on the wire racks. Left to sit indefinitely on the tempura paper/kitchen paper towels/oil absorbing paper, it will go soggy at the bottom.

WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT?

These are quite fuss free open sandwiches that I eat often enough for brunch or lunch. It has soft scrambled eggs, sun-dried tomatoes, edamame beans, radish sprouts and roasted almonds. All of which sits on sourdough bread and is then topped with truffle oil. Simple and yummy.

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