Indian Cooking For Dummies
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Show me someone who doesn’t love crispy fried fish, and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t like fish . . . period. But not all fried fish are equal. Some recipes call for so much batter that the fish inside is almost an afterthought. Batter is there for two reasons. First, crisp and crunchy are surefire additions to the pleasure of pretty much any food. Second, a successful batter coats the fish so that it gently steams inside its crispy overcoat.

The following recipe is about the lightest batter I have ever come across. It calls for regular all-purpose flour and then rice flour—which is the flour that they use in tempura. Beer has long been used by camp cooks to lighten a batter (something about the bubbles and evaporating alcohol aerate the batter). A splash of vodka (more alcohol) cooks off to make it even lighter. If you don’t have vodka, you can use gin. And if you don’t have gin, then rum will work fine. If you are moved to make a cocktail while you are at it, I’m not going to tell you no.

beer-battered fish © from my point of view /

Beer Battered Fish

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 3–5 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


1-1/2 pounds fish fillet, divided into 8 portions

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup white rice flour, plus more for dusting

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 heaping teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup vodka (or gin or rum)

3/4 cup lager beer (your brand of choice)

8 cups canola or grapeseed oil


  1. Salt the fish to taste and set aside.
  2. Mix the remaining dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the vodka and beer, then whisk until smooth.
  3. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F in a deep fryer. If you don’t have a deep fryer, you can use a deep pot, like a cast-iron kettle. Check the temperature carefully with a thermometer.
  4. Dip the fish in the batter.
  5. Using tongs (or very carefully with your fingers) lower the battered pieces of fillet about halfway into the hot oil for about 5 seconds (real one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi seconds).
  6. Let go and fry until golden, about 2 minutes, a little longer for really thick filets minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the fish and drain it on a rack or paper towels.

If you let the batter sit for a while before you fry up the fish, you may need to add a little more liquid right before you fry it. You want batter that’s a bit thinner than pancake batter.

Lowering the battered fish into the oil for 5 seconds before letting it go sets the batter so that when you let go of the whole piece, it doesn’t sink to the bottom or stick to the other pieces.

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