Perfect Beer Battered Cod

Although you can use just about any white fish to fry, I recommend Alaskan true cod. Catfish is very moist, but has a soggy texture; black cod is very buttery, but is too delicate; halibut has the best flavor, but is too expensive for this application. I used Pacific cod that I bought from a local store which I broke down into fillets and then strips.

The batter consists of flour, cornstarch, egg, and dark beer. It should be pretty thin, just thick enough to coat the fish. I took a cue from the Chinese and went with a sweet & sour pork batter that I adjusted slightly.  I also added a bit of dashi and miso paste for some extra flavor. The batter should be as cold as possible (the difference in temperature as the fish hits the oil causes the batter to puff) . I recommend parking it in the freezer for 20 minutes, but I just threw some ice cubes in there because I got impatient. If you decide to do it this way, the batter must be used immediately or else the ice will melt and dilute the batter.

Dredge the cod thoroughly in flour seasoned with salt, a process known as 'fariner', coat the fish in the batter, and then gently drop it into a vat of peanut oil at about 325 degrees F. The trick is to fry it twice. After about 2 minutes, remove the fish and let rest on paper towels. The fish should be a pale yellow. Turn up the heat on the oil and when it reaches 375 degrees F, fry the fish for a second time until it is golden brown.

I learned this trick at Google where I had to cook 500 portions at once. It would have been impossible to batter and fry the first to order at that volume so I divided the steps in half. The result was an even crispier exterior than if I used a typical fish & chips batter recipe.

The tartar sauce is pretty straight forward. Mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest, onions, capers, pickles, and sweet relish. I like to chop the pickles and onions rather large for textural contrast. You want the sauce to have a bite. Serve the sauce with the fish and some malt vinegar and have at it.

There you go, fish and…well, I’ll do a post on the perfect french fry sometime in the future. But for now:

Batter Recipe

2 cups AP flour
1 cup Cornstarch
2 Eggs
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/8 cup Oil
1 1/2 bottles Dark Beer
1/2 tbl White Miso Paste
1 tsp Dashi
1 tsp Salt