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Best batter for fish


Lindsey
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Well, if it's not the Sunday Mail it's professor Terry Wogan, eh ? As for the Press and Journal, I was back in Perthshire at the beginning of the month. I asked the butcher to freeze up 2lbs of unsmoked Ayrshire, a half black pudding, 2 haggis and some square sausage. I needed it wrapped to keep it cold during the flight, and out of all the newspapers at the newsagent, the Press and Journal gave the best paper-per-penny performance. Just in case you ever need to know.

Blether might also be interested to see http://www.danlepard.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1191

Is that the same dougal ? Because 2.5% salt is exactly the proportion I mentioned above, under "perfectly normal for bread". And btw I believe sugar put into bread dough at the start isn't aimed at making it sweet - it gives a kick-start to the yeast, which eats it all up. I put sugar in my pizza dough & I'm not into sweet pizza.

So rowies are salty. Got it. Are you going to start the thread "The Scottish Diet", or should I ?

You seem to be pretty good on food hygiene. What do you think about HYoungJoo's comment about fish batter 'sitting around for a whole night' with 'fish germs' ? I can't think of any contamination that (1) will produce relevant amounts of toxin in that timeframe, or (2) will survive close contact with 180C oil.

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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I can't think of any contamination that (1) will produce relevant amounts of toxin in that timeframe, or (2) will survive close contact with 180C oil.

That reminds me of Jacques Pepin's response to Julia Childs' "You don't wash your chicken?":

Pepin: "I figure it's going into a 400 F oven for an hour. If they can survive that, then I think they deserve to live!"

Edited by fooey (log)

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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I would like to learn about the fish part from those here. Its PHYSIOLOGICAL dryness, and leakiness when being fried, and what it does to the batter. All fish is not equal, surely? Species matter, don't they? And does not that have something to do with the end result?

First off, frozen versus fresh: some species may freeze better than others. And, what does freezing do: depending on the lipid composition of the cells/species, filleting procedures, how frozen, how defrosted, there must be some membrane disruption, and therefore a leakage of cell contents.

So patting dry a fillet, and salting it will have various consequences. Some species or some frozen by xyz methods might weep copiously in the fryer compared to others. Some fryers might use a lower temperature, for specific frying reasons and commercial fat mixes, say 315F versus 350F. Home cooks might go another route, because the volume of oil they have is smaller compared to the fish volume. That is not the case in commerical fryers with large oil volumes, where the batter, heat exchange rates etc. all have different dynamics.

All I can say is that fillets from a certain far eastern country labeled flounder etc. behave very strangely, turning into mush. Whether that is a species issue or the result of lysozyme activity far, far progressed, one cannot tell. But that is an extreme example demonstraing the effect of fish quality on the final product.

Inquiring minds want to know...

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Oh Help. Haddock, sparkling fresh, is what we use - frankly don't think Scotland is ready for anything else! :biggrin:

Not being a lover of fish I am clueless as to the cooking etc of other family members.

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You are extravagantly fortunate!! And yet it seems people there gravitate to very low quality high fat doner kebab!!

At one time, dogfish used to be the chip shop staple in England. Several species of hake from the south Atlantic are now being promoted to replace cod & haddock, which are being depleted in North American waters. Silver hake today is used extensively in UK balti houses.

Pollock & whiting fillets are available relatively cheaply compared to other white fish in US markets. Koreans shape pollock into neat squares for their jeon!!

Frozen tilapia [farm raised] and fresh catfish fillets [farm-raised] are two others common and relatively inexpensive fish in the USA.

Edited by v. gautam (log)
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You are extravagantly fortunate!! And yet it seems people there gravitate to very low quality high fat doner kebab!!

At one time, dogfish used to be the chip shop staple in England. Several species of hake from the south Atlantic are now being promoted to replace cod & haddock, which are being depleted in North American waters. Silver hake today is used extensively in UK balti houses.

Pollock & whiting fillets are available relatively cheaply compared to other white fish in US markets. Koreans shape pollock into neat squares for their jeon!!

Frozen tilapia [farm raised] and fresh catfish fillets [farm-raised] are two others common and relatively inexpensive fish in the USA.

Forgive them they know not what they do!!! :wink: Sadly the doner kebab is consumed, mainly, when the alcohol levels are higher than the intelligence quota. YUK

Dogfish was, indeed, consumed in fish shops in London when I was a child but it went by the more appealing title of Rock Salmon (?). Skate, also, was popular. Pollock is used mostly, over here, for feeding cats. I find this sad.

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You are extravagantly fortunate!! And yet it seems people there gravitate to very low quality high fat doner kebab!!

At one time, dogfish used to be the chip shop staple in England. Several species of hake from the south Atlantic are now being promoted to replace cod & haddock, which are being depleted in North American waters. Silver hake today is used extensively in UK balti houses.

Pollock & whiting fillets are available relatively cheaply compared to other white fish in US markets. Koreans shape pollock into neat squares for their jeon!!

Frozen tilapia [farm raised] and fresh catfish fillets [farm-raised] are two others common and relatively inexpensive fish in the USA.

Hello, V. Gautam.

Are you familiar with Fishbase ? I don't know silver hake, but funnily enough it seems to be one of the species known as whiting in the UK and USA (I searched on Common Name = whiting).

I grew up in Scotland, where fish & chips always meant haddock. I believe the staple in England (certainly in the midlands and south) was always cod, and I think one of the main reasons for its popularity is its lack of bones. It's no match in the eating for real Dover Sole, or for red sea bream / red porgy / tai where I am now. Dogfish - as 'rock salmon', as Lindsey said, was commonly available too, but not in Scotland.

That red sea bream is my fish of choice when I make fish & chips now - and is also great, simply dipped in seasoned flour and pan-fried in olive oil, Italian style, with a pan sauce of onions & lemon if I can wait that long.

We do get Alaskan Pollock here, sold as 'sukesoudara' - fairly good eating, but no great delicacy.

As for the quality of frozen fish, I agree that that varies enormously. I think the biggest factors are the quality of the original catch, the diligence of the freezing operation, and the integrity of the distributors. It's hard for consumers to tell the quality of fish once it's frozen, and we only have the word of the seller as to its age.

I can make one observation about trout. As I have mentioned before on eGullet, at high school and as a student I worked part-time on a trout farm and in the on-site processing factory. The farm had two sites, one on a large loch and one beside a river, with earth ponds and water fed fron the river. In summer the loch, being deep, maintained a low temperature, but the earth ponds would warm up significantly. The original stock of trout being the same, and the feed the same, the trout from the cages on the loch were distintly better - firmer fleshed, juicier - than those from the pond farm. For cooking, trout that were filleted and blast frozen, were as good that way for three to six months, as the same fish filleted and prepared fresh. The difference between fish from the two locations was very noticeable; those frozen within half a day of the cull were effectively indistinguishable from fresh.

Sadly, Japanese trout cannot hold a candle to Scottish trout. Their flesh is a pale white, and yes, mushy by comparison. My suspicion is that the summer heat spoils them, but I'm not sure. At least I have eaten a lot of them as breakfasts at country inns, and none has impressed me. Of course the Scottish seafood industry, in general, trails that of Japan by some margin.

Edited by Blether (log)

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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Yes, I have been an addict of Fishbase, since I come from West Bengal from a time when we had no refrigeration: that meant all the fish had to be fresh caught, and sold very, very fresh [mostly fresh water, from estuaries, rivers & ponds]. That particular culture abjured any dried, preserved or fermented fish products.

My favorite then & now for filleted fries is/was Lates calcarifer, the barramundi of the Ganga estuary [a bit different from the Australian in taste] sized whole at less than 2-3 kg, > 1.5 kg.

You are quite right with regard to trout. I lived in Utah, where both farmed trout and wild were available. Even the farmed from various provenances had better and worse tastes, reflecting warm water and the algal geosmin. Where I live now, the deep waters of the Finger Lakes supposedly have immense Lake Trout, and the rushing streams the rainbow, but I do not fish.

When America was young, her eastern streams where shaded, very cool, clear and well-oxygenated. Brook trout flourished. With the great woods removed, the European brown trout introduced, and the waters turned warmer and more turbid [and more toxic] the brook trout has all but disappeared. The chub, a coarse tasting fish in summer, becomes clean and delicious in the frigid waters of January. But this native fish, too, is gradually being displaced.

I have been surprised at how good the channel catfish can taste when well-farmed in clean waters. Ditto, some tilapia. In these cases, and also buffalofish [excelent as bone-in darnes], warm shallow water does NOT adversely affect the taste, as they are adapted to relative warmth. Clean water and spacious quarters, sufficient plant life, and a natural pond ecology as opposed to circulating, high-density tanks make all the difference. North America has the land and exceptionally rich aquatic fauna that outdoor, uncrowded natural farms can give excellent results for these species.

Sadly, this mode [uncrowded] is the rare exception but shows the possibilities of excellent fish that can be made available to all for $3/lb w/o wrecking any marine or terrestrial environment. These fishes may grow slower but taste way better when not fed ocean-derived fish meal. Since 30% of the feed offered to farmed fish is never ingested, that means a lot of ocean life not being destroyed.

[it is a bit worrying that 70% of USA's fresh water bodies are redlined, i.e. fish from these waters are hazardous. Since this nation is the custodian of a substantial fraction of the earth's surface [liquid] fresh water, it is sort of a general indicator of what we are doing to our environment and fish life all over the globe.]

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The trick with beer batter is much like that used with tempura batter: it needs to be cold. Make sure your beer is chilled.

Next, as someone said above, use equal quantities plain flour to cornflour.

Add salt (and pepper for a bit of bite). There is sugar and other goodies in the beer that substitutes for the sugar that would normally be used in tempura, so I'd lay off adding sugar or add bits gradually to see what the best mix is.

As for tempura, don't stir the batter too much; the lumpy mix makes for interesting textural sensations when deep fried.

This way, you'll get puffy, crispy, and tasty batter (which is most likely what you are looking for).

As you make the batter at various times during the day rather than fresh, do as someone said earlier and chill it. This ensures that the batter cooks and crisps while leaving the fish cooked through but not overcooked.

For interest's sake, much of our traditional fish and chips here in Australia was made with Flake (spelt 'S. H. A. R. K.'). A swimmer's revenge, methinks.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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  • 8 months later...

I've been playing with variants on beer batter and think I've found one that works very reliably.

It is a hybrid between tempura batter and conventional beer batter.

1 cup cold beer (something with body like an ale is probably best)

¾ Cup Plain Flour

¼ Cup Potato Flour

1 egg yolk

½ tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper

Mix together flours, salt and pepper.

Stir egg yolk into cup of beer.

Add beer/egg mixture to flour all at once.

Combine using a chopstick. Leave lumps, they add character.

Dredge your fish through the batter and place immediately in frying oil. Drip and drops enhance the product.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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