One of my favourite fish and chips joints is in Mississauga, Ontario, where I’ve lived since my years as a teenager and into adulthood. It’s owned by an exuberant husband and wife duo who loves to crack jokes! They also LOVE the Beatles! When you walk into their quaint little restaurant, the first things you’ll notice, aside from their charm, are the two walls to your left and right, covered with printed jokes on paper. Most of the jokes are from actual news reports. Some real funny ones are excerpts from Judge Judy cases. You’ll also notice a sign that reads:
You have a good laugh, place your order and continue to read the walls. But there’s one joke that really got me. As it would turn out, I’m not the only one. The charming owners had the joke printed to go. The joke is titled “When Grandma Goes to Court.”
Lawyers should never ask a grandma a question if they aren’t prepared for the answer.
In trial, a small-town prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grandmotherly, elderly woman to the stand. He approached her and asked, ‘Mrs. Jones, do you know me?’ She responded, ‘Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I’ve known you since you were a boy, and frankly, you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you’re a big shot when you haven’t the brains to realize you’ll never amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you.’
The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, ‘Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?
She again replied, ‘Why yes, I do. I’ve known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He’s lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can’t build a normal relationship with anyone, and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of which is your wife. Yes, I know him.’
The defense attorney nearly died.
The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench and, in a very quiet voice, said, ‘If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I’ll send you both to the electric chair.’
Fish is perfect for deep-frying. I love a piece of fried halibut or cod, cloaked in a light and crispy beer batter shell. A batter protects the delicate flesh of the fish, sealing in both moisture and flavour. It pairs well with a side of fries twice-fried. The result, feather-light on the inside and crispy on the outside; the ultimate fish ‘n’ chips. Coatings can include mixtures with breadcrumbs, cornmeal and finely chopped herbs on prepared fish, which is normally baked or pan-fried.
Done right, with a high smoke point oil at a high temperature, the fish will absorb very little oil. Here are 5 useful tips for frying battered fish:
- Use good quality oil with a high smoke point of at least 400⁰F (205⁰C). Peanut, grapeseed, soybean, canola or extra-light olive oil all have a very high smoke point. The temperature for frying should be at least 320⁰F (160⁰) and up to 375⁰F (190⁰C). If you do own a thermometer, you can test the oil temperature by dropping a cube of bread into it. The bread will turn golden brown in 25 – 30 seconds at 320⁰F (160⁰).
- If you don’t have a deep fryer, use a deep pot. Use a roasting or cooling rack over a baking sheet to allow foods to drain. It’s also a good idea to use plain paper towel instead of printed.
- Keep the oil hot and don’t overcrowd the pot. If necessary, work in small batches and keep food warm in the oven.
- Speaking from personal experience, place fish gently in the oil so you don’t get spattered. Take your time.
- Don’t cover battered while fish while they rest after cooking, the coating will get soggy.
The batter used in today’s recipe is called Chippy Beer Batter. This is a mixture of 1 3/4 cups flour, sea salt, black pepper, 1 1/2 cups very cold light beer, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Adding oil to the batter adds extra sheen and crisp to the fish.
Tempura Batter: To make a light and crisp tempura batter that would also work great with vegetables, mix together: 2 cups all-purpose flour; 1 1/2 cups cornstarch and 1 teaspoon sea salt in a large bowl. Quickly whisk in 2 cups club soda until well combined. A few lumps are good – if it is too smooth, the batter will be tough when cooked. Use immediately. Enjoy today’s recipe.
Fish 'n' Chips
Nothing beats a piece of cod or halibut cloaked in light and crispy, golden beer batter with a side of home made fries - feather-light on the inside and crispy on the outside.
4 large potatoes
4 medium to large halibut or cod fillets
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
Sea salt and black pepper (to taste)
1 ½ cups cold light beer
1 tablespoon olive oil
Fish: Preheat oil to 375⁰F (190⁰C). In a large bowl, sift the flour with the salt and pepper. Lightly stir in the beer and oil. The batter should be lumpy. Pat fish dry with paper towel to remove excess moisture. Dip fish in beer batter. Allow excess batter to drip off fish. Carefully and slowly immerse the fish into the hot oil. Fry for 3 – 5 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.
Chips: To make the chips, slice the potatoes into desired thickness and shape. Fry at 375⁰F (190⁰C) until golden brown. Remove from oil. Drain on paper towel. Toss with coarse sea salt.
Serve with lemon wedges and your favourite tartar or lemon dill sauce.
Any beer will work for this recipe. Experiment, as every beer has its own flavour profile.
Variation: If you love the taste of dill on fish, add 2 teaspoons chopped dill to the beer batter.
You can now print this recipe card. Just hit ‘PRINT’ on the above to keep it handy.
Batters can all be used for deep-frying, while coatings are generally used for baking and pan-frying. If you prefer coatings, the following mixtures will coat or cover 4 medium fish fillets:
Lemon and Chive Breading: 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs; 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh chives; 1 teaspoon lemon zest.
Herb Breading: 1 cup breadcrumbs; chopped fresh or dried dill weed, tarragon, chervil or fennel (choose two or three).
Preheat oven to 400⁰F (205⁰C). Combine coating ingredients in a shallow bowl. Lightly dust fillets with flour seasoned with sea salt and black pepper. Dip in an egg wash – one beaten with 1 tablespoon cold milk. Coat with the breading and bake for 10 minutes depending upon the size of the fillet.
Combine breading ingredients in a shallow bowl. In another bowl, season 1 cup all-purpose flour with sea salt and black pepper or white pepper. In a third bowl, lightly beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon cold milk. Pat fish dry with paper towel. Coat both sides lightly with seasoned flour dip in egg and lastly, coat with the breading mixture. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a large saute pa over medium to high heat and add fish. Fry until golden brown, on both sides, about 5 – 10 minutes, depending upon the thickness of the fish.
You might also enjoy Quinoa-Battered Herb-Infused Codfish.
Recipe credit: http://www.oceanwise.ca. “Ocean Wise makes it easy for consumers to make sustainable seafood choices that ensure the health of our oceans for generations to come.”