We eat fish fairly frequently. One of the bonuses of having a boat, and enjoying sitting out with a line for a few hours. If it's home-caught (so to speak) it's usually snapper. If it's from the supy, it's whatever looks good that ain't going to completely fleece the wallet. Usually we simply pan-fry the fillets - I mean, with tasty fresh fish, what else do you need to do? However, sometimes you just feel like good ol' battered goodness. Last night was such an evening.
I'd heard the Morning Rumble talking about a new batter- and fritter-mix available on the market. Fogdog, made in NZ, by a couple of blokey blokes, it was apparantly really good - light, crispy, the opposite of dodgy stodge (which is more often than not what you get from the local chipper, these days). Obviously you can easily make your own beer batter from scratch (a little flour, cornflour and beer), but sometimes it's fun to try out new products. Everyone's a sucker for advertising from time to time. So yesterday, picked up some fresh trevally and a packet of this supposed wonder batter. Given our general aversion to battering fresh fish, it had big proverbial shoes to fill.
And it did! It was light and crispy. Apparantly, cooking with beer (as opposed to water-based batters) reduces the oil absorbtion. So using beer is actually better for you. Sweet!! It cooked very fast (though, that could have been controlled better by yours truly, had I reduced the heat under the pan a little) and didn't fall/slide off the fish. All you need is the packet and half a bottle of beer. I used Carlsberg, but next time would be interesting to try it with a darker beer, like Speights Old Dark, or something...
1 packed Fogdog batter
140 ml beer
2-3 fillets fish
2 large potatoes
rice bran oil
- Cut potatoes into nice, fat, chunky chips. Toss with a little oil and cumin seeds. Whack into oven at about 180 degrees celcius. I usually leave them cooking away for a good half hour or more, then grill them for a couple of minutes, to crisp them up. Remember to toss them from time to time, so they don't stick to the tray.
- Make up your salad, however you fancy it. Now you're pretty much ready to go, once the chips are done to your liking.
- When almost ready to serve, mix beer and batter in a bowl. I reckon it's best to use a whisk, if you have one, as it gets more air into the batter, which presumably helps make it light. Pat the fillets dry and pour about 4mm oil into non-stick pan. Get the oil good and hot (drop a wee bit of batter in, to see if it sizzles - that's how you'll know).
- Carefully place the pieces of fish into the hot oil - be careful not to drop them in, as you'll make a mess of your kitchen, and likely burn your fingers/arm. I know, I did that last night. Kitchen floor was a shambles. Have tongs at the ready, 'cause the fish won't take long. Pretty much as soon as you've put the fish in, it's time to turn it over. When golden and crispy remove from pan and serve, with salad and cumin-crusted chips.
Nb: You don't have to use rice bran oil, but if you don't, be very careful to keep an eye on the oil, so it doesn't burn. Olive oil, the cuisine guru for so many things, isn't much good here. It has a lower burning point, and the stronger flavour can mask the delicate flavour of the fish. I'd recommend either rice bran or avocado, as they both have a high burn point.