Something fishy

Although often frustrating, sometimes it pays to be the partner of an avid fisherman. When he walks in the door with fresh fillets of dhufish, baldchin groper (bluebone), pink snapper or breaksea cod, all the effort seems worthwhile.

[Aside: my absolute favourite white-fleshed fish is dhufish and I have noticed less and less available in the fish markets each time I go. I strongly suspect that we will see tighter WA fishing restrictions for this and other premium WA table fish in the near future.]

My partner usually cooks me dinner after he (or a generous mate) has a successful fishing adventure. Here is what he cooked me the other night


beer battered dhufish with lemon and rice

I have learned the secret to a crispy batter is the temperature difference between the cold, cold batter and the searing hot oil. The bubbly goodness that results is light and far less greasy than you find at most fish & chips shops [well, the ones we have tried out lately anyways].

Recipe #24: Beer battered fish. Serves 4.

You will need:
• 3 good-sized fillets of white-fleshed fish (eg. 1 each of dhufish, bluebone, breaksea cod), each cut into 4 pieces
• ¾ cup plain flour
• 2 tbsp cornflour
• 1 tbsp lemon zest
• 1 egg
• ¾ stubby of your favourite beer [we used Corona – Cooper’s is meant to be better]
• vegetable oil, for frying
• extra plain flour, for dusting

For the batter, sift the plain flour and cornflour together. Whisk in the egg and, while still beating, slowly add the beer. Finally, mix in the zest. Refrigerate for 45 minutes.

Now to cook the fish! Heat a pan of vegetable oil (at least 2-3 inches deep) until it is medium-hot. Test it with a drop of batter – it is ready when the batter bubbles and rises to the surface.

Before you coat the fish with batter, toss your fish pieces in flour, ensuring that you shake off the excess. This dries the fish and prepares it for maximum stickability. [Yes, that is a word. Really.]

Cook the fish in batches of 3 or 4 pieces at a time – any more than that, and the oil temperature cools too much.

Coat each piece with batter and carefully place it into the hot oil, shaking off the excess batter beforehand. Fry until the fish pieces are golden brown in colour. Place on paper towel and sprinkle with salt flakes.

Serve with rice (as we did), chips or potato wedges, and lemon cheeks. It really is very crispy on the outside, tender and melty inside. Mmm-mmm-mmmmmm.

A light alternative to beer batter is tempura.

Recipe #25: Tempura batter. This recipe was adapted from The Tokyo Food Page. I used soda water instead of still for a super-fluffy batter.

You will need:
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 1 cup very, ridiculously cold soda water
• 2 tbsp dry white wine
• 1 cup plain flour

Whisk everything together. Add icecubes to the mix if it starts to warm up.

You can use the tempura batter to coat seafood (fish pieces, prawns and scallops are superb) and vegetable pieces (eg. green beans, thin slices of pumpkin, broccoli florets, capsicum chunks).

Prepare and cook the oil and seafood as for the beer batter recipe above, only the batter will stay creamy rather than turn golden: remove your vegies/seafood as soon as the batter starts to get a bit of colour. Vegetables don’t need flouring beforehand – just make sure they are dry.

The website also has a fabulous dipping sauce to match…but for something really easy, why not mix a little wasabi into mayonnaise? If you’re not too heavy-handed with the wasabi, it can be very refreshing – like tartare sauce with fish & chips.

Darn. Now I’m hungry again.


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