Thursday, March 7, 2013

Beer Batter Fried Fish

One of my biggest missed opportunities in eating, or what I've been calling my biggest eating regret, is the fish and chips and mushy peas at the Rising Sun Pub in Hurley, UK.  This was my sister's neighborhood pub when she was living in England.  We had gone there one Friday night for a pint after dinner.  While enjoying our pint, out from the kitchen came the largest, most beautifully fried filet of cod resting on a bed of chips with a side of mushy peas.  The cod was one solid filet and it had curled up on the ends from frying.  I felt my mouth water.  But, we had just already eaten and there was no room for that lovely piece of deliciousness.  Not to worry I thought, I will just go down another night and feast.  We proceeded to have a lovely evening and Chris engaged in a lively conversation with a local about starting a mushy pea business once back home in Seattle.  I was to find out later that fish and chips were only sold on Friday nights and our plans never allowed me to get my dreamy fish and chips dinner.  And since, it looks like they have remodeled and made the place a touch fancier.  I have since always felt that I may have missed the fish and chips of a lifetime. I will never know.

Tonight, I'm making fish and chips in a beer batter with yeast.  I have no idea how the Rising Sun made their fish, but it looked crispy, with a thin batter and fried to perfection.  I think what appealed to me the most was that it was a thin filet about 15 to 18 inches in length sitting proudly taught and curled.  I have no intention of trying to replicate that fish.  I am not even using cod tonight, but instead rock fish that I picked up at a Costco run today.  I like to keep my little dream of what that fish might have been like.  Tonight's meal results from primarily lack of a better idea.  But the Rising Sun memory was worth sharing, right?

1 1/2 pounds rock fish filets
I cut the fish into strips and brined it in a mixture of water, mirin, kosher salt and sugar for a couple of hours.

For the batter:
12 ounces beer (I used Sam Adams Boston Lager) at room temp
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups flour
1.5 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Combine the beer and yeast and stir, using a whisk, to dissolve the yeast.
Add the flour and whisk until smooth.
Whisk in salt and sugar.
Cover and let rest for about an hour.

Heat a large pot of oil to 325f.  Adjust heat to maintain this temp.
Drain and pat dry the fish on paper towels.
Prepare a large bowl or dish with just flour in it.
Fry the fish in batches.  The idea is not to over crowd the fish and also too many pieces at one time will drive the temp of the oil down and not fry the fish properly.
For each batch of fish, dust the fish with flour, then dip the fish into the batter, and gently place into the oil.  
Fry the fish until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.  Repeat for each batch.
Drain the fish on paper towels to soak up excess oil.
The batter was pillowy, light and yet crispy.  Delicious fried fish.  But I will always wonder about the one that got away.

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