"Battered, of course!" he exclaimed, "the way good ole fish & chips should be."
He then went on to grouse about how ordering fish & chips off the menu at restaurants in Singapore is a hit and miss affair. The batter is either too thick, floury, puffy, and its consistency taste a lot like goreng pisang batter. It's much safer to order the breaded version, especially if one's taste buds have been spoiled by the wonderful chippies they sell in Australia and London. Don't even let me get started on the so called fish & chips they sell at a particular fast food chain. You can argue that point with me if you like hard, crunchy, flaky, and floury fish.
I figured that the batter hides all the secret to the difference between great tasting fish & chips and lousy ones, where they arrive puffy golden brown at the table, and immediately deflate to half its size once you bite into them. So I went to do a bit of research, and tried out some batter recipes.
Let me share a tip with you. Double frying is the key. Especially if you want fish & chips that are crisp to the bite, and stays crispy long after you drain them out of the oil. Double frying also ensures that the insides are cooked thoroughly without burning the batter.
Try it out. I have a feeling that once you serve this, store bought Fish & chips will never be the same again.
Fabmoolous Fish & Chips
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Serves 3 - 4
- 4 fish fillets (if they are large, cut them in half for easier handling)
- 1 cup | 128gr all purpose flour.
- 2 tbs cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp onion powder (optional)
- 1/4 tsp of baking powder
- Oil for frying
- 3/4 cup of beer
- Salt to taste
- White Pepper to taste
Note on the beer: alcohol neutralises once its cooked, but you can substitute with club soda if you prefer a non-alcohol version. This ensures that the batter is light and crispy, and will not stick to the pan when fried)
I cheated and used frozen fries to save time, but if you're making your own thick cut fries, use Russet potatoes, and double fry 'em up too!
1. Thaw the fillets out (I used frozen white basa fish) and pat dry. This is very important so as to prevent a 'soggy' fried fish. In fact, it's also a prerequisite prior to frying seafood, as the water content is very high.
2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl, and mix well. At this point, put about just about enough oil to shallow fry (1 1/2"), and heat on high for about 3 minutes. Put the fries (potatoes) in. Meanwhile, dust each fish fillet with the flour mix. Make sure that they are only lightly coated. Set aside.
3 Take the fries out of the pan, and drain off excess oil. I used a spider for ease, and they are a cheaper, greener alternative to paper towels! Put the beer in the flour mix, and stir. Do not overmix. It's fine if there are still lumps present, the beer will dissolve these. You should get a thick-ish batter, which should still 'run' down the spatula or the whisk. If it's too thick, add in more beer.
4. Coat each fillet with the batter. I slap off excess batter on the sides of the bowl, so best to get a deep bowl for this purpose.
Fry the fillets. Don't overcrowd the pan, as the heat will distribute too much and the batter may not cook evenly. I usually fry two fillets at one time in a medium sized shallow pan.
5. Take them out as soon as they turn golden yellow. Lay them out on paper towels and make sure that excess oil is drained out.
6. Add in more oil, if necessary, and turn up the heat.
Put in the batch of fries, and turn them over constantly so that they will brown evenly. They should cook very fast now - perhaps in about a minute or two, so don't be tempted to run off to catch the tail end of the K-drama on TV!
7. Fry the fish fillets again, and drain well.
Serve immediately, with lemon wedges and a favourite dipping sauce.
...and in case you're still wondering, here is a cross section of the batter. Thin and crispy, because I don't like them thick and floury!