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Battered Halibut


Marlene
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Thanks for clearing that part up.  I'm not sure that I've seen Wondra here in Ontario though. :unsure:

Robin Hood makes an instant blending flour that comes in a shaker can as well as by the bag. I think it is the equivalent of Wondra. It is usually in the same aisle as the other flours.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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Thanks for clearing that part up.  I'm not sure that I've seen Wondra here in Ontario though. :unsure:

Robin Hood makes an instant blending flour that comes in a shaker can as well as by the bag. I think it is the equivalent of Wondra. It is usually in the same aisle as the other flours.

That I have. I was actually trying to find it on their website last night, but they don't list it. I use that often for gravies and sauces.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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An Orly batter forms a fairly thick, puffy coating for something like fish that needs to be protected from the high heat of the fryer. It's also delicious from that yeast. We used it with cod at the school I went to, but I'm sure it'll work well with halibut too. Don't forget the vinegar or lemon or tartar sauce on top!

Wondra is great, but IMO it's not enough if you want to deep-fry the fish as for fish and chips. It's perfect for flouring pan-fried fish, but you need more of a coating if you want your fish to stand up to being deep-fried. I've used Wondra as step 1 of a three-part breading (Wondra, then egg wash, then seasoned breadcrumbs) and used that for deep-frying though.

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Did you ever have one of those days, where you should have just stayed out of the kitchen? Draw near gentle readers, and I'll tell you a story. (Of course I considered just saying, I didn't have time, etc etc) but really one must share the bad with the good. Sigh.

I just knew the day wasn't going to go well once I began my third batch of pastry for pie, in less than an hour. Those of you who know me, know that pie pastry is not my forte. However, I'd bought raspberries, and Ryan really really wanted a raspberry pie.

Snowangel assured me that I couldn't go wrong with Julia Child's recipe for pastry. Of course! Julia makes even pastry idiots like me look good! Thus assured, I set out. Alas, I have failed Julia. I'd say Julia failed me, but I'm quite sure there is nothing wrong with her recipe. Its the hands the recipe was in.

It didn't work for me. I tried it twice. Each time I got the requisite streaks of butter and shortening. But I couldn't roll it out. I tried, I really did. I had lots of flour on the board and on the pin. Oh, and lots on me.

I finally dug out my recipe that I use when making Rustic Tarts. I'd had success with that one, and really, pastry is pastry, right? I should be able to use this recipe for a pie instead of a tart. The dough rolled out beautifully, and I (awkwardly) managed to get the bottom crust into the pie dish, poured the raspberry mixture in and rolled out a top crust (yes, snowangel I know, but Ryan won). When it came out of the oven, I have to say, it didn't look that bad. It wasn't fancy. (I can't flute to save my life), but it looked presentable.

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Unfortunately, it wa sort of soupy inside:

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It was however, very good. Just a little runny. Oops.

By this time, I was frazzled, but I figured how hard can fried fish be? Batter it up, fry it, eat it.

Right.

I'd done very well at getting everything ready ahead of time. (by the way the quality of some of these pictures sucketh. I'm using my son's camera which is way different than mine. Just another shining example of my day).

I'd cut the potatoes up for fries ahead of time and soaked them in ice water.

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I'd made the batter and let it rest:

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R2D2 was loaded with oil and ready to go:

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Have I mentioned that one of the reasons I don't cook fish is I can't stand the smell of it, raw or cooking? Nothing is guaranteed to make me run the other way faster. I opened that package of fish, and I was ready to pack it in. I should have. Trust me.

And thus I began. I used Alton Brown's recipe for fish and chips. His recipe calls for frying the potatoes first in oil heated to 320 until the potatoes are soft and floppy. Then take them out and cool them while heating the oil to 375. So I did that. Don't they look floppy to you?

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Once the oil is heated, toss them back into the deep fryer and cook until golden. Ok, so one or two are slightly more than golden, but it just adds to the charm of home cooked don't you think?

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I sprinkled them with salt and held them in a 200 degree oven.

AB calls for the fish to be dredged in cornstarch then dipped in the batter. (There's that cornstarch thing again). Then put them into the fryer until the batter has "set". (what exactly does that mean, dear Alton?), then turn them. Oh oh. This is where I ran into my first major dificulty. I tried to turn them, and they wouldn't budge. They were stuck fast to the bottom of the basket, and nothing I could do would dislodge them. So I held my breath, lowered back into the oil and prayed that not turning them wouldn't count against me.

When they looked like they were done, (purty aren't they?)

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I took them out and futilely tried to pry them from the basket. Nuh uh. No way, no how were they comin lose. I turned the basket over and discovered why. The batter had seeped through the holes in the basket and fried itself shut. Effectively sealing my fish to the bottom forever:

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I did finally get them out, but it wasn't pretty, and they're purtiness was kind of destroyed. I suggested to Ryan that the local pizza place or the local fish and chips place was probably still open.

My son has beautiful manners. Although I could see the doubt in his face, he insisted that we try these anyway.

And so we did.:

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They actually weren't bad taste wise.

And of course we had to finish off with a little raspberry soup. Disguised with whipped cream, who can tell?

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So the food was great, the method sucked. Next time, (don't hold your breath), I'll do this in a deep dutch oven, which AB suggests anyway, Duh. The fish obviously needs to free float in the oil, because it will stick like a sum a bitch to anything it can get it's little battered fingers on.

There's something to be said for letting the experts do their thing. When I want fish and chips, I think I'll drive to my local fish and chips place. When I want pie, I should visit a bakery. Sigh.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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The fish obviously needs to free float in the oil, because it will stick like a sum a bitch to anything it can get it's little battered fingers on.

Exactly. Battered food usually sinks to the bottom of the oil, then rises as it cooks. Once it floats on the surface, turn it over as soon as the lower side (facing the oil) is brown to let the other side brown as well. You can then use the basket or a spider to scoop it all out.

I'd only use the Dutch oven if it had enough surface to let all the fish float in one layer. Otherwise, stick with R2D2.

And now that you know this, next time your fish will be perfect. Looks like you got a great crust with that batter.

Don't give up. The first time trying any new technique is always a bit interesting. Very few of us are brave enough to publically document our learning curve in quite as much detail as you are :wink: Try it again (you've got all that fishy frying oil now, so it's not like you're going to be making doughnuts with it - but it would be great for some calamari) and let's see this thread finish with photos of your triumphant Round 2 - Revenge of the Fish Fryer.

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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I'm not at all sure I could let the fish free float in R2D2. Wouldn't it sink down onto the heating element? And since I can't get more than two pieces into the fryer at a time anyway, I'm not sure that using a dutch oven would be any worse.

I suppose I could be convinced to try this once more using the free float method. Of course, I'll need to let the memory of the fishy smell in my house fade first. Nothing like waking up in the morning to the scent of recently fried fish. Gak.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I've had the same problem with dense battered food sticking to the basket. Although I haven't tried this, next time I'll put on gloves, or those heat-proof Starfrit mits, and suspend the fish pieces, one by one, near the top of the oil with tongs, until 'the batter sets'. There might be a little tear where the tongs hold the fish, but maybe the tongs can be prepped with a nonstick spray (prepping the basket with Pam was futile, however.)

Marlene, your first effort at this was indeed valiant, and looks good enough for continued refinement. Any son returning home for a Sunday dinner would be proud of his Mom!

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Marlene, did you put the fish on the basket and then lower the basket into the oil?

Looking at the size of your fryer, next time I'd do just one piece of fish at a time so there's more wiggle room. Lower the basket and then gently drop one piece of fish into the oil. You can shake the basket or use a metal offset spatula at the bottom to prevent the fish from sticking. The exterior of the batter should set fairly quickly so you only have to be vigilant for a few seconds.

I actually thought the fish looked pretty good despite your sticking issue. :smile: What batter did you end up using?

As for the pie: was there any cornstarch in the filling? Juicier berries tend to need some to reduce the soupy factor. Also some pies don't fully set up until cooled.

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Yes, I tried spraying basket with Pam. No luck, either.

The fish actually did taste fine, it was just a major sticking issue. I can certainly do one piece at a time, but I'd certainly try Malawry's method of getting them in first. I did put the fish in the basket and then lowered it into the oil And I used Alton Brown's recipe for Fish and Chips.

There was no cornstarch in the pie, but there was Tapioca, which is also a thickener isn't it? Expecially for pies.

Ah well, it was interesting.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Nothing like waking up in the morning to the scent of recently fried fish.  Gak.

We have a friend who fries his fish in the back yard using a cast iron pot on a Coleman campstove. No fishy smell in the house. Another friend who lives in an apartment, runs an extension cord to his patio. Not sure how safe it is to use an extension cord with a fryer though.

I wish someone would answer the cornstarch question. I've only done the beer & flour thing. I wonder what the cornstarch does.

Your fish looked quite tasty & maybe it was trick photograpy, but it looked pretty attractive too. Perfection is overrated.

pat w

I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance

Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.

-- Ogden Nash

http://bluestembooks.com/

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Marlene, I'm sure the fish was wonderful!

Just a suggestion, if you don't want the smell in you house: Whenever we have a hankering for fish and chips, I deepfry the potatoes and the beer battered fish in a pot outside on the grill's side burner. Sometimes I even use the wok, which works splendidly.

I never use a basket in the pot, btw, just a spider to remove the potatoes and fish from the hot oil.

Don't give up... home made fish and chips are a wonderful thing (in moderation of course :wink: )

Cheese: milk’s leap toward immortality – C.Fadiman

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  • 11 months later...

It's been a year to the day, since I attempted homemade fish and chips. The memory of that day has (almost) faded. I think, that perhaps I may be ready to brave hot oil, beer batter and the smell of fried fish one more time. Stay tuned for the next installment, possibly coming to a screen near you on Sunday. :biggrin:

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Even though you had a few glitches, the fish looks good. I do not like a heavy batter. I prefer fish & chips from a really nice restaurant in Hampstead Heath, near my MIL's house. They dip the fish in egg and then coat in matza meal. And, it is not a Kosher restaurant. It was really delicious. I am planning to fry some cod tonight, so I will try and post some pictures.

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The traditional medium for deep frying battered fish (and chips), if you want the English fish and chip taste, is beef fat.  I know, it sounds weird and unhealthy.  But it makes a big difference, and beef fat is still what's used in many chip shops in England (and at least one in Vancouver, where I first learned this trick).  The crust comes out crispier and tastes better.

I don't know if you can find rendered beef fat anywhere outside restaurant suppliers in Canada, however.  It usually comes in 10 kilo boxes.

Well, the fish-and-chip place that Swisskaese referred to in her post, which is in West Hampstead, uses pure vegetable oil and a matza meal coating on the fish, and it was among the best deep fried fish I've ever eaten, to say nothing of the huge portions of fish (halibut for me, haddock for her). The truth is that we wouldn't eat fish fried in beef fat anyway, since we both keep kosher, but I don't recall from my pre-kosher days that the fried fish I had in many a chippy around England -- and some of them were definitely using animal fat rather than oil -- was as good as what we had in this place.

David

Blogger. n. Someone with nothing to say writing for someone with nothing to do. (Guy Kawasaki)

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Marlene, I grew up eating Halibut and chips (Toronto area). And I don't believe that it is possible to recreate in the home Halibut and Chips as good as the best fish and chip shoppe. I've tried over the years and finally gave up.

The Penrose Fish and Chip restaurant on Mount Pleasant in Toronto sets the standand for us and we judge all other halibut and chip places by them.

You would think that living in Vancouver and Vancouver Island that there would be all kinds of great fish and chip places, but it took us a while to find a couple that lived up to our expectations. In Vancouver only Go Fish(Granville Island) which is a little outdoor place and on Vancouver Island our favourite place is Mill Bay Fish and Chips. We drive down island at least a couple of times a month to get our fix. Halibut is the only fish I want in my fish and chips too. Can't be cod or haddock or any other.

I'm not a really big fan of fish, but halibut is the exception and I cook it often. But when I want fish and chips we always go out for them.

Ann

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It's been a year to the day, since I attempted homemade fish and chips.  The memory of that day has (almost) faded.  I think, that perhaps I may be ready to brave hot oil, beer batter and the smell of fried fish one more time.  Stay tuned for the next installment, possibly coming to a screen near you on Sunday. :biggrin:

Marlene, I sifted through last year's posts and made my own several times. None was any better than your photos, and description, but I quickly learned not to put the battered fish in the basket before lowering.

The technique I observed at Penrose (Mt. Pleasant Rd., Toronto) works well:

Lower the basket in the oil, then slip the battered fillets in, one by one, slowly.

As the bottom of the fillet forms a crust, in about 1 second, it will not stick to the basket when it slips all the way down. Tongs could be used to avoid spatter.

There is lots of good halibut in the Ontario market this year. I have had good fish from unlikely sources, Sobeys and Loblaws.

Good luck!

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Tonight, I made cod with a matza meal crust. I beat an egg with a little cream in a plate with sides. Then, in a separate plate, I put matza meal, fresh thyme, herb salt from Provence and some ground pepper. I dipped the fish in the egg mixture and then dredged it through the matzah meal mixture and fried the fish in canola oil. I don't have a deep fryer like Marlene, so I fried the fish in a frying pan.

gallery_8006_298_38231.jpg

Sorry, but it is a bit blurry.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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Ok, I have halibut. Question of the day. It's wrapped up, and in the fridge, but should I keep it on some crushed ice for the day?

Ann, you're probably right, and I'm betting from here on in, I'll go out for Fish and Chips. but I have to do this once more, just to prove to myself that I can! :biggrin:

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Ok, I have halibut.  Question of the day.  It's wrapped up, and in the fridge, but should I keep it on some crushed ice for the day?

Ann, you're probably right, and I'm betting from here on in, I'll go out for Fish and Chips.  but I have to do this once more, just to prove to myself that I can! :biggrin:

I hope more experienced "fish" people chime in but I always unwrap my fish, place it on a bed of ice cubes and loosely cover it with plastic wrap until ready to use.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Ok, I have halibut.  Question of the day.  It's wrapped up, and in the fridge, but should I keep it on some crushed ice for the day?

Ann, you're probably right, and I'm betting from here on in, I'll go out for Fish and Chips.  but I have to do this once more, just to prove to myself that I can! :biggrin:

I hope more experienced "fish" people chime in but I always unwrap my fish, place it on a bed of ice cubes and loosely cover it with plastic wrap until ready to use.

Ok, but won't that make my fridge smell like fish? :unsure:

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Ok, I have halibut.  Question of the day.  It's wrapped up, and in the fridge, but should I keep it on some crushed ice for the day?

Ann, you're probably right, and I'm betting from here on in, I'll go out for Fish and Chips.  but I have to do this once more, just to prove to myself that I can! :biggrin:

I hope more experienced "fish" people chime in but I always unwrap my fish, place it on a bed of ice cubes and loosely cover it with plastic wrap until ready to use.

Ok, but won't that make my fridge smell like fish? :unsure:

I have never had a problem if the fish is very fresh to begin with. I do tuck the plastic under the plate - just don't wrap it tightly!

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Ok, I have halibut.  Question of the day.  It's wrapped up, and in the fridge, but should I keep it on some crushed ice for the day?

Ann, you're probably right, and I'm betting from here on in, I'll go out for Fish and Chips.  but I have to do this once more, just to prove to myself that I can! :biggrin:

I hope more experienced "fish" people chime in but I always unwrap my fish, place it on a bed of ice cubes and loosely cover it with plastic wrap until ready to use.

Ok, but won't that make my fridge smell like fish? :unsure:

It shouldn't smell like fish to begin with. If you aren't going to eat fish before its 3 days old (from when it was swimming) then it should be frozen. I prefer to store fish whole, on a rack set on top of a sheet pan in the fridge. For fillets ice is fine against the skin of the fish, but I don't like to put the flesh side of fillets against ice. Cover whatever you're keeping the fish in/on with a tent of plastic wrap of foil and it'll be fine.

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Well it smells fishy to me, but then I'm overly sensitive to the smell of fish. It's on ice, loosely wrapped in plastic in the fridge.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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