I have been asked more than once .. what the secret is with my battered fish!
Yes, this is a recipe for beer batter, yes, it is not conduit to our health and wellness vibe .. but everyone loves a good fish and chips! So since this is a sometimes food, and only eaten on occasion, you want it to be ah-mazing when you have it!
So, there are 2 secrets. The first ? FRESH fish! Im very lucky and married to a very passionate fisherman .. so am spoilt with fresh fish. If you are not so lucky .. well go make friends with a fisherman!!
Second – is below in my method – You will notice is is basic, no fancy herbs, no unnecessary flavours AND everything must be COLD and QUICK.
Prep 15 min
Cook 10 min
For the (fresh) fish
400g plain flour
550ml very cold beer
4 pieces sustainable white fish (i get to use snapper, shark or whiting – but any white fish will do)
Rice Bran Oil, for frying
3 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
For the tartare sauce
1 tbsp gherkins
1 tbsp capers
1 tbsp parsley
½ tbsp chives
250ml organic egg mayonnaise
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 Prep the flour
Put the flour in a mixing bowl and put in the freezer for 15 minutes before you cook the fish, and, if you’ve forgotten to chill the beer in advance, put that in there, too. This may sound odd, but when cold batter meets hot oil, the change in temperature seems to intensify the reaction as the carbon dioxide in the beer bubbles up, making it extra crisp.
2 Prepare the fish
You can use just about any white fish you like, the more fresh and sustainable the better. Keep the skin on or remove it according to taste – my kids like it off – and check for and discard any small bones that may have been left in (this never happens with my husband)
3 Heat oil
You can use a large, heavy-based pan and a thermometer; make sure you fill the pan no more than a third of the way up with oil. If you don’t have a thermometer, drop a cube of bread in the oil to check the temperature: it should crisp and brown in 30 seconds. Otherwise heat to 185C. I like rice bran and it is quite light and no strong flavour – you could use extra-virgin olive oil if you like, as this is below its smoke point, but it will be expensive.
4 Make the batter
When the oil is nearly up to temperature, stir the baking powder and half a teaspoon of salt into the chilled flour, then whisk in the cold beer to make a paste – don’t overmix or you’ll make the batter tough. Put this by the stove, along with a metal slotted spoon and a plate lined with baking paper or if you are going for the full fish n chips effect – newspaper!
If you’d prefer not to use beer, then you can substitute very cold fizzy water: the bubbles are the important bit, although the beer does give a good flavour. You may wish to add a pinch of sugar to make up for it, or indeed a pinch of mustard powder or some cayenne pepper if you’d like the batter to have a bit of heat.
7 Coat the fish
Dip the fish into the batter, one piece at a time, then, shaking off any excess, carefully lower into the hot oil and very carefully stir with the slotted spoon to prevent it sticking. You can do this two or three pieces at a time, but make sure you don’t overcrowd the pan or it will overflow.
8 Fry and drain the fish
Cook the fish for four to six minutes, depending on the size of the fillets, until crisp and deep golden in colour, keeping a watchful eye on it at all times: never leave hot fat unattended. Scoop out with the slotted spoon and on to the newspaper to drain before serving.
9 Tartare sauce
To make tartare sauce chop the gherkins, capers and parsley and chives and mix into the mayonnaise, along with two or three tablespoons of the pickling vinegar from the gherkins and the dijon mustard. Season, adding more of any of the ingredients to taste. (i like to blend in my nutribullet – just remember to add a touch of water to prevent it sticking)
Cut up some cucumber, air fry some chips and whoala!