5 Basic Batters for Deep Fried Fish and Seafood
Nothing beats the crispy crunch and delicate flavor of batter-fried fish and seafood. While the simplest coating for fried fish is simple seasoned flour, batters form a protective coating that seals in flavor and has a pleasing texture.
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For those of you with a fat phobia, properly deep fried foods should never be greasy. Just make sure to deep fry at a temperature of 365 to 370°F (use a thermometer!). Fry only in small batches to avoid having too much food drop the temperature of the oil too far. And let the oil come back to heat before frying the next batch. With the proper oil temperature, the batter will seal immediately and your dinner will only absorb a minimal amount of oil.
Take care not to overcook foods coated in a batter. The coating should just turn a nice golden color. Any darker and you risk burning the batter and turning it bitter.
Drain the cooked fish or seafood on paper towels to soak up that last little bit of unwanted calories.
Below are five basic batters that work well with fish and seafood. Experiment with the different types. Each one produces a slightly different final result. The measurements of flour and liquid are rough guides. You may have to add more or less of each to get the results you want.
You could also substitute 1/4 cup of cornstarch for 1/4 cup of the flour to get even crispier results. But don't use cornstarch with the yeast batter. It doesn't have the gluten needed to help it rise.
Flour and Water Batter:
The simplest of all batters, this easy mix is best suited to thin fish fillets with a delicate flavor, like sole or pollock.
Beat 1 cup of flour and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt into 2 cups of water. Set aside to rest for 30 minutes before using.
Baking Powder Batter:
When you want a crunchy crust — and you want it now — baking powder comes to the rescue. Don't let this batter sit too long after you make it, or it will lose its leavening punch.
Stir 3/4 cup flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt together in a large bowl. Whisk in 1 cup of water until smooth. Use immediately.
Beer batters have great crunch and great flavor. Use your favorite ale or lager and toss back any leftover. Beer batter is perfect for fish and chips. You can make a non-alcoholic version with club soda or mineral water.
Add 3/4 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a large bowl. Gently whisk in 1 cup of beer until smooth. Use immediately.
Egg White Batter
Beaten egg whites give this batter its leavening power as well as its structural integrity. It forms fluffy, tender pouches around the fish or seafood.
Mix 3/4 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt with 1 cup of cold water until smooth. Set aside and let rest for at least 30 minutes. Just before you are ready to deep fry, beat 3 egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar until they form medium peaks. Gently fold the whites into the flour-water mix. Use immediately.
This batter yields a complex, breadlike flavor and a thick, crunchy crust.
Stir 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast into 3/4 cup of warm (110°F) water. Set aside for 10 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup flour until smooth, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise. The batter will be ready to use in about an hour, or when the batter has doubled in size.