• 700g/ 1.4lb white fish fillets , like flathead, snapper, whiting, cod, tilapia, flathead (skinless, boneless, Note 1)
• ¼ cup rice flour
CRISPY FISH BATTER:
• ¾ plain/all purpose flour
• ¼ rice flour
• 1¼ tsp baking powder
• ¼ tsp salt
• 1 cup very cold beer
• 4 – 5 cups peanut oil (or vegetable, canola or cottonseed oil)
• Tartare Sauce
• Lemon Wedges
• Chips or wedges
Dry & cut fish: Pat fish dry using paper towels or a tea towel. Cut into 7 x 3cm / 3 x 1¼” batons, or larger fillets if you prefer. If you have very thick fillets, cut in half horizontally (Note 1)
• Dusting bowl: Place ¼ cup rice flour in a shallow bowl.
• Heat oil: Heat 6cm / 2″ – 3″ oil in a large heavy based pot over medium high heat to 190°C/375°F.
• Salt & dust: While oil is heating, sprinkle 3 or 4 pieces of fish with a pinch of salt, then coat in rice flour and shake off excess. You can leave them like this for up to 10 minutes.
• Cold batter: Just before cooking, whisk together the flour, rice flour, baking powder and salt. Add very cold beer into the batter and whisk just until incorporated evenly into the flour. Do not over-mix, do not worry about flour lumps (Note 4). It should be a fairly thin batter but fully coat the back of a spoon. If too thick, add beer 1 tsp at a time.
• Dredge fish: Dunk a piece of fish in the batter, the let the excess drip off very briefly.
• Fry 3 minutes: Carefully lower into oil, dropping it in away from you, one piece at a time. Don’t crowd the pot; fry in batches. Fry for 3 minutes, flipping after about 2 minutes, until deep golden.
• Drain: Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining fish. Serve hot! However it will stay crisp for 15 – 20 minutes. (Note 5 for larger batch cooking).
• Serve with Tartare Sauce, lemon wedges and a leafy green salad on the side dressed with a classic vinaigrette. Easy single-fry-ultra-crunchy chips coming soon! In the meantime, use oven baked wedges!
Light crispy batter requires a cold batter, so if it’s hot where you are, keep it in the fridge between batches.
Recipe makes more batter than you need – you can cook up to ~1kg/1.2lb of fish. It’s hard to dredge fish properly with any less.
- Fish for frying – You can use virtually any white fish fillet such as: hoki, whiting, snapper, barramundi, cod, flathead (my favourite!), tilapia, hake, haddock and ling.
Fish to avoid: Meaty fish prone to drying out (like swordfish, tuna), delicate or thin fish (like flounder or sole). I personally wouldn’t use oily fish like salmon, but it works just fine.
Cutting: Recipe works for fish cocktail size pieces (ie. pick-up-and-dunk size), batons or whole fillet sizes. Remember that the batter puffs up considerably when fried.
If your fish is very thick (3cm / 1.25″+), cut in half horizontally to make thinner pieces, otherwise the fish may not cook through by the time the batter is golden and crispy. Also the ratio of fish to batter will be too high.
- Rice flour – Essential ingredient for a really good crispy batter, and to keep it crispy for a reasonable time (15 minutes+). If you only use normal wheat flour, it will go soggy within minutes.n Find it in the baking aisle at the supermarket. Substitute with cornflour/cornstarch or potato starch (not quite as crispy, but still crispier than using only plain flour).
- Beer: Must be ice cold, in fridge 2 hours+. Key for crispy batter! Best types: Pale ale and lagers are most commonly used, but I’ve used all sorts in my time and they’ve all worked out fine. Doesn’t really matter because you can’t taste it, but avoid dark, heavily flavoured beer like stout or porter (will discolour and flavour batter).
Non alcoholic sub: Ice cold soda water + ¼ tsp extra baking powder. It’s basically the same as the batter used for Honey Chicken, slightly adapted to be suitable for fish.
- Batter thickness: Thinner batter = crispy, delicate crust like you get at good fish and chip shops. 70% fish, 15% crispy batter, 15% empty cavern between fish and batter (the “puff”!).
Thicker batter = thicker crust, which some people like, but I am disappointed if I bite in only to find it’s 50% batter, 20% fish, and 30% empty cavern!
Do minimal whisking of batter, don’t worry about lumps, just make the beer mix through the flour evenly. If you over-mix, it will activate the gluten and the batter won’t be as light and delicate, it will be thicker, greasier and chewier.
- Large Batch cooking: The nice thing here is that the fish cooks in 3 minutes so you can just keep them coming out. But if you want to do one large batch, you can do a double fry to reheat & it actually makes the batter less greasy because we use a higher heat (read up on this in my Stay-Crispy Honey Chicken):
– First fry: Fry fish in batches for 2½ minutes until crispy and golden, but not a deep golden. Drain on paper towels, continue with remaining fish.
– Second fry: This is to reheat and make it deep golden and crispy. Increase oil temperature to 200°C/390°F. Add fish and fry for 1 minute until deep golden. For Fry #2, you can crowd the oil more (ie. if you cooked fish in 4 batches, you can do this in 2 batches). Drain and repeat with remaining fish. Voila! All fish, piping hot!
- Reuse oil – Can be used twice more because flavour of batter is neutral, and doesn’t infuse oil with flavour. Cool oil in pot, line mesh colander with paper towel, strain oil. Store until required. I personally would stick to savoury uses rather than sweet. More fry-worth foods here.
- Source – Partially adapted from this recipe by Chef John of Food Wishes. He knows his stuff, I trust him – and he’s pretty funny too!
- Make ahead – Can’t be done I’m afraid! Fried fish will be soggy if reheated, and the batter needs to be made fresh. Sorry folks!
Publication: Recipe Tin Eats