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Beer-Battered Fish and Chips

This image courtesy of Kate Sears/Sublime

Fish and chips may have originated in England, but the dish has definitely taken root in the United States, especially here on the East Coast. In my restaurants, I serve hundreds of orders a day. People just love the crispy fried beer batter and the perfectly moist fish inside. It’s easy to make fish and chips in a restaurant, using a large commercial fryolator (deep fryer), but making the dish at home is a substantial undertaking. It is not that fish and chips is hard to make, it’s just that you need to cook the fish and the fries in separate pots in order to get all the food out at the same time, both hot and crisp. In fact, after testing this recipe at home, I have decided that making fish and chips in a home kitchen is crazy. But I also know there are a lot of crazy cooks out there, possibly a few who may want to quadruple this recipe, or more, and set up two big pots on portable propane burners for an outdoor fish fry. This recipe is for the fish; the recipe for the chips, Boardwalk French Fries is separate—but you may want to just make the fish and serve it with coleslaw or a green salad. The varieties of fish that make good fish and chips are many. Since the fish fillets should be fairly thin, you will need to cut thicker fish (more than ¾ inch thick), such as cod or striped bass, on a thin bias. Flounder and other thin fish fillets (¾ inch or less) can be cut straight down. It is nice to have one big 6- to 8-ounce piece per portion, but if that doesn’t work out, it’s fine to serve two smaller pieces.

NotesWorking Ahead: The batter can be made several hours in advance and refrigerated until ready to use.

Serves4 as a main course

Cooking MethodFrying

CostInexpensive

Total Timeunder 1 hour

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionGame Day

Recipe CourseMain Course

Dietary ConsiderationKosher, Lactose-free, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free

EquipmentDeep Fryer

MealDinner

MoodBlue

Taste and TextureCrisp, Rich, Savory

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • One 12-ounce can beer or ale
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • About 6 cups peanut, canola, or other vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • 1 ½ pounds (or a little more) skinless fish fillets (large flounder and fluke, haddock, hake, cod, Pollock, ocean perch, or tautog), cut into 4 thin (less than ¾ inch) slices
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4- or 5-quart Dutch oven
  • Deep-frying thermometer or an electric deep fryer
  • A whisk
  • A baking sheet
  • A pair of tongs

Instructions

  1. To make the batter: Combine the flour, cornstarch, beer, egg, and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk well. The batter will be very light--slightly thinner than a regular pancake batter. over and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, or up to 3 hours.

  2. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Heat 3 inches of oil to 375°F in a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven over medium heat or in a deep fryer.

  3. While the oil is heating, dry the fish fillets between several thicknesses of paper towels. Season with the salt and pepper. Drop the fillets into the batter and toss with tongs to coat evenly.

  4. When the oil is hot, lift the fillets, one by one from the batter with the tongs, letting excess batter drip back into the bowl, and lower them into the oil, holding each fillet suspended in the oil for a few seconds to set the batter and prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. The temperature of the oil will drop when the fish is added, but you overheated the oil, to 375°F, to compensate for this. Don’t let the oil come back over 350°F once it recovers. Fry the fillets until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer them to the paper towel-lined baking sheet with tongs. Serve the fish hot with the French fries, coleslaw, tartar sauce, lemon wedges, and malt vinegar.

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I tried this recipe tonight with and it was fantastic. Used striped bass I caught yesterday so particularly fresh which always helps. Also, went with Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale for the batter - highly recommended. After drying filets with paper towels I flopped them in flour before dipping in the batter (potentially redundant but figured it couldn't hurt). Per Jasper's editorial, I opted to stick some Ore-Ida steak fries in the oven for my chips and simplify the process.

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