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Fish 4 Friday: Make Better Fish & Chips by Using Better Batter

This entry is part of a series, F4F 2011»

Fish and Chips

Got a hankering for fish & chips? It’s a great pub grub kind of meal, and even if you’re on one of those New Year’s diet thingies, you still need one “cheat day” to keep healthy (or at least sane). What better way than with a nice plate of fish, properly coated and deep-fried to perfection?

Oh, I see the problem. You tried to make your own fish & chips, and the batter didn’t turn out so good. You tried and tried, and it never tasted as yummy as you remember from the neighborhood pub, or your favorite fast-food fish outlet; say, Arthur Treacher’s. Besides, the weather’s dreadful out, and you want to cook to save money. (Remember your New Year’s resolutions?) You even have some nice cod fillets you collected from the fishmonger before the storm snowed you in. If only you knew how to make a great batter!

Here’s where you relax and let the Chile Underground’s Elves from the Stolen and Hacked Great Recipes Department bail you out like a drowning rat in the Eire Canal assist you. Gather the following ingredients:

  • 3 pounds fish fillets (cod, haddock or similar)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups pancake mix
  • 3 cups club soda (more or less, depending on batter consistency)
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons cayenne or chili powder (optional)

Moisten fish fillets evenly. Place flour on a large, shallow plate. Dredge fish through the flour, shake off the excess flour, then place filets on racks or wax paper to air-dry for a bit (5-10 minutes). Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the pancake mix and club soda. Make the batter about the consistency of buttermilk, not water-runny but not too thick; it should pour fairly easily. Stir in the seasonings and chile powder.

Heat oven to 325 degrees (warm setting, or 3 on the gas knob for you Brits following along at home). Set up a deep fryer and heat oil to 400 degrees Farenheit (about 205 Celsius). Dredge a fillet or two in the batter and fry. Don’t overload your fryer or you’ll get fillets sticking together; you’ll also depress the oil temperature and your fish will be all greasy. When the fillet is golden-brown and delicious, fish it out (Get it? Fish?? I crack me up…) and place on a paper-lined cookie sheet in the oven to keep warm. Wait a couple of minutes before dropping the next fillets, to let the temperature recover to setting. Continue until all fillets are fried.

Add French fries (optional, except for those in the UK where it’s require by law, I believe) and some of your favorite fish-dipping sauce and you’ve got a meal. (I like Thousand Islands dressing, but sometimes I still have the tastebuds of a six-year-old.) And you didn’t even have to go out into the cold to get it. No need to thank the Elves; it’s what they complain about after I whip them into line and get them to working live for…

Enjoy the (Better Battered Fish) Heat!

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