John D Lee is a chef and restauranteur living and working in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He's always loved to cook.
I suffered through a lot of mediocre fish and chips at restaurants before learning how easy it was to make great, crispy-crunchy beer battered fish at home.
Here’s how you do it…
Make a simple batter—take some fresh fish fillets and dip em’ and then pop them into a pan of oil (I don’t even deep fry, just shallow fry) for 4 or 5 minutes or until golden browned and cooked to perfection.
So—first step—start with some good fresh fish. Types of fish that are great in a beer batter include
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- John Dory
For ease, and because I’ve always had great results with this, I tend to buy skinned and boned frozen fillets (much of what you buy fresh at the seafood counter is just defrosted frozen stuff anyway).
Beer Battered Fish (for 4 Big Eaters)
- 2 pounds of firm white fish fillets cut into strips about an inch wide and no thicker than about an inch in thickness. (I prefer to cut these about ½ an inch in thickness to speed the frying process—at a half inch, these cook through in 3 or 4 minutes, which is convenient since you’ll be frying in batches!)
- 1 can of beer (Ideally a dark ale or stout like Guinness but any type of beer will work here)
- 1 ¼ cups of all purpose flour, plus another ½ cup or so for dredging, laid on a plate
- ½ tsp of salt
- 2 tsps of baking powder
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Whisk together the 1 and ¼ cups of flour, the beer, the baking powder and the salt, working it until completely free from lumps. Ideally, let it sit for about 15 minutes to come together before using. Different brands of all purpose flour will absorb different amounts of beer, but you’re looking for a consistency like very thick heavy cream. You definitely want it thick enough to really get a good coating on, but if it’s too thick it won’t be as crisp.
- Once ready to fry, preheat enough oil in a deep fryer for deep frying, or if shallow frying, (what I do) add about an inch of oil to a heavy, high sided skillet that’s sure not to slip around on the stove. If you’ve got a big cast iron skillet, then you are very much in business here!
- Heat the oil to 350 degrees for frying (use a deep fry or candy thermometer to check). If you lack this instrumentation, check here to learn how to know when oil is ready for frying.
- Once the oil has come to temperature, dredge a few pieces of fish in the flour you’ve got ready for this and then shake off any excess before transferring the floured pieces of fish to your batter.
- Dip each piece of fish in the batter and then gently slide it into the waiting oil. Make sure you don’t crowd the pan here—if you have a large-sized pan, you’ll probably want to do this amount of fish in 3 batches.
- Let the fish bubble and cook for a minute or so and then flip it over to finish cooking. It is done once the batter is golden brown and the fish is cooked through. ½ inch thick fillets (before frying) will take 3 or 4 minutes to cook through and 1 inch fillets will take about double that time.
- Transfer to a plate with paper towels to drain and hold in a warm oven while you wait for the remainder of the fish to finish frying.
Beautiful, easy and ever so crunchy and good!