So, from what I understand, it’s Lent. Somehow I forgot about Fat Tuesday altogether, and I didn’t get soot smooshed on my forehead on Ash Wednesday. I don’t give up anything for Lent, mainly because I am Pious and Holy all year long and spend a lot of time Denying Myself Items I Want. But for some reason, this year I have fixated on Fish on Friday.
I don’t even like seafood. Honest. One time I took The Beloved away for a Surprise Birthday Weekend à la plage, and for dinner he ordered some sort of Witch’s Cauldron full of Ominously Bubbling Stuff with tentacles and claws and What Not hanging out of it. I had to Look Away and try to concentrate on my blackened chicken pasta. That’s pretty much the only alternative to seafood at a seafood restaurant, unless you want to go the Kiddie Menu route, and I can no longer pass for 12.
So it was truly out of character for me to pipe up with, “Hey, how’s about some fish-n-chips for dinner on Friday?” The Beloved’s mouth fell open a bit, but as he rarely gets seafood at home he quickly agreed. So, we snagged 12 ounces of flash-frozen cod fillets and tossed them in our freezer until Wednesday evening, when I decided that I prolly needed to thaw them out before deep frying them.
Now, where does a fish disliker (hate is too strong a word) like me go to learn how to make fish-n-chips? Why, Alton Brown, of course. I looked at his recipe for a general idea of proportions and for his specific beer recommendation (brown ale) for the batter. And then, I left it up to The Beloved to come up with the seasonings. Here’s what we ended up with:
Beloved’s Beer Batter
- 6.5 oz flour
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Old Bay, onion powder and garlic powder, to taste
- Some Penzeys 4S–the Spicy Kind
- a 12 oz bottle of brown ale (we used Brooklyn Brown Ale)
Whisk all dry ingredients together. Pour in the beer, and whisk until the batter is Pretty Smooth. Because of the dark beer, it will be an ugly color, but just go with it. I promise it will all turn out Okay.
Let the batter sit in the fridge for 15 minutes or so before using.
For the fish
- some corn starch
- seasoning of your choice
- at least 3 quarts of peanut oil. You could use another kind, but it’s what we had that was Suitable for Deep Frying, so it’s what we used.
Take your fresh or thawed fillets and pat them dry. Very Very Dry. Sprinkle with the seasonings of your choice (we used some more Spicy 4S), and then dredge lightly in corn starch before dunking them in the batter and carefully placing them in the hot oil.
For the Chips (Fries)
- 2 Big Ass floury baking potatoes–we were amazed at how big they were, and we just had to have them
- The aforementioned oil
- whatever sort of salty seasoning you prefer. We used a mixture of 4S and fine sea salt.
We pretty much followed Alton’s rules for dipping the fish and frying them. We also did the two-stage fry for the potatoes. The first at 325F to blanch and the second at 375 to brown and crisp them up.
If you don’t want to go look at his rules, Alton says to make the fries first and hold them in a 200F oven while you’re dipping and frying your fish. That’s what we did. We mixed up the beer batter before we made the fries, so it probably was in the fridge for closer to 30-45 minutes. It was Extremely Thick when we took it out to use. I think next time we’ll reduce the flour to 6.5 oz. I have used that measurement up there in the batter ingredients. If you think you’ll use it within 15 minutes, go ahead and use a full 9 oz of flour. Of course either way it’s up to you. I’m just trying to present you with all your Options.
After the two-stage (325F/375F) chips/fries fry, we fried the fish at 350F. I think ours took us between 5-7 minutes to cook, but I’m not really sure. Besides, yours could take longer. Just keep an eye on it and take it to a lovely deep golden brown. Maybe even a little deeper than you think you should.
We served ours with malt vinegar, and I even made Jaunty Newspaper Cones for the fries.* Sometimes I fear that Martha is trying to Possess Me.
Anyway, take it from me–even if you are not a fish person, you will at least be pleasantly surprised by these guys. The fish was juicy and perfect and plump; the batter was crisp and deeply golden brown; the chips were very potatoey and fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside. All in all, it were a Fine Meal Indeed. One that’ll make yer Minces light up an’ get yerself to the Aunt Mabel as fast as yer Scotches can carry ya t’ shove them in yer Boat an’ take a big bite wif your Hampsteads. A Simply ‘Eavenly Meal, innit? I Turtle Doves ye, I duz, Lillian-n-Jocks.**
*from The Funny Times. We read it first before we made cones out of it. Thanks to lovely Neighbor Roberta for hooking us up with FT.
**Fanks to Cockney Rhyming Slang for the translation.