Light and Crispy Beer Battered Fish with Homemade Tartar Sauce
This Crispy Beer Battered Fried Fish is light, flaky and packed with fresh flavor. Serve with tartar sauce, cabbage slaw, and French fries for delicious fish and chips at home.
My favorite way to eat beer battered fried fish is with crispy french fries and this Light Cabbage Slaw.
What does beer do for Fried Fish Batter?
Beer does several fantastic things for fried fish batter, but the main effect comes from the carbonation. The bubbles in beer aerate the batter, which helps to make it light and crispy. The same effect can be achieved by adding plain club soda, but beer also adds flavor.
The extra flavor from the beer is important. The goal with fried fish batter, I feel, is to achieve a flavorful, crunchy coating that compliments the fish rather than completely overwhelming it. I want to be able to taste the fish, not just the batter. On the other hand, what’s the point of bland, tasteless batter?
If you can find it, London Pride beer is a fantastic choice for fried fish. It’s an amber beer that’s slightly sweet and not overly bitter. It adds a nice flavor to the batter without being too strong.
My second choice is Newcastle Brown Ale. But honestly, any kind of beer is fine. Just be aware that the stronger the flavor in the beer, the stronger the flavor in the batter.
This recipe makes more batter than you’ll need.
This is to ensure that you can submerge each piece of fish in the batter without any difficulties. Fish is fragile. It breaks easily. I like to mix up a generous amount of batter so that I can dip each piece in the batter rather than having to roll it around.
If having more batter than you need feels wasteful to you, just cut the recipe in half. I’ve also read that you can add an egg, some cornmeal and spices to the leftover batter and make hush puppies, frying them in the hot oil right after the cooking the fish.
What’s the best kind of fish to use for a fish fry?
My two favorite kinds of fish to use for a fish fry are Cod and Halibut. But, other great options are Haddock, Tilapia, or Polluck.
Alaskan Cod is the fish most often used in American restaurants for fish and chips, and it’s what I usually use when making them at home. It’s a great choice because it holds together well when coating it in batter and can withstand the high temperatures used for frying.
I also LOVE using Alaskan Halibut, however, this is more difficult to find unless, of course, you are in Alaska. And, if you are in Alaska, lucky you. 🙂
How do you get batter to stick to fish?
The trick to getting batter to stick to fish is to…
- Make sure the pieces of fish are dry and,
- Dredge the fish in flour or cornstarch before dipping it in the batter.
It’s important to blot the surface of the fish with a paper towel to suck up any excess moisture so that when you dredge the pieces in flour or cornstarch you get a nice, light coating rather than a thick globby mess.
After cutting the fish into pieces that are roughly 3-inches long, lay them out on a paper towel. Blot them on all sides with another paper towel then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Immediately after drying and seasoning the fish, dredge the pieces in some flour or cornstarch, coating them on all sides and shaking off the excess. The goal is to get a nice thin coating of flour or cornstarch, which gives the batter something to cling to.
For Fish and Chips, just add French fries
There are few things I love more than a plate full of really good fried fish and French fries. Honestly, I’ve never made fried fish without also making French fries.
Most fish and chips recipes include instructions for making your own fries from scratch. This isn’t one of those recipes because I prefer to use frozen French fries. If you were to go to the trouble of making French fries from scratch, I would most definitely not turn them down. I just don’t often feel that the effort is worth it. Also, I usually prefer the taste of frozen fries.
I just want to point out that I am almost always a from-scratch-is-better kind of person and will happily go through the extra effort for a higher quality result. I just don’t think you always get that from fries. I am perfectly happy to heat up some oil and dump in a bag of frozen extra-crispy fries.
If you don’t agree, making French fries from scratch is pretty straight forward:
- Slice up a couple of potatoes into strips that are about 1/2 inch thick.
- Soak the strips in cold in water for at least an hour, and preferably overnight.
- Rinse the potatoes in cold water and pat dry.
- Fry the potatoes in oil that’s been heated to 325 degrees. Use a slotted spoon to remove them when they are golden brown, laying them out on a paper towel lined plate or tray. Sprinkle with salt.
Why is Fried Fish almost always served with coleslaw or cabbage slaw?
The purpose of slaw is to provide a fresh, bright, refreshing contrast to heavy, smoky, often fatty meats and fried foods, like fried fish. Well made coleslaw or cabbage slaw should be crunchy, tangy, and possibly a little bit creamy. It should not be limp, listless, and drowning in mayonnaise.
This Light Cabbage Slaw is my favorite thing to serve with fried fish because it includes both vinegar and a touch of mayo. It’s tangy, very slightly creamy but still super light, making it the perfect accompaniment to a plateful of fried fish and French fries.
Other Popular Seafood Recipes:
- Indian Shrimp and Rice
- Miso Buttered Pasta and Salmon
- Pan Seared Scallops with Chorizo and Roasted Corn
- Shrimp, Rice, and Shiitake Mushroom Soup
- Potato Salad with Creamy Green Sauce and Tuna Fillets
If you give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, or take a picture and tag it #alittleandalot on Instagram.
- 1/2 cup all-purpose
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt, plus more for seasoning pieces of fish
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning pieces of fish
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 1/4 cup (10 ounces) light or dark lager, well chilled (*see note)
- 1 1/2 lbs cod, haddock, or halibut
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour OR cornstarch (*see note)
- Vegetable oil, for frying (Enough to come about 3-inches up the side of the pan you want to use to fry the fish.)
For the tartar sauce:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tbsp diced dill pickle
- 1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tbsp minced nonpareil capers
- 1 tbsp minced fresh dill or tarragon
- 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp Colman's dry mustard
- 1 tsp minced shallot
- A dash or two of tabasco or sriracha sauce (optional)
Make the Homemade Tartar Sauce:
- Add all the tartar sauce ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt, pepper, lemon juice, or hot sauce if desired. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Make the Beer Battered Fried Fish:
- In a small bowl, add 1/2 cup of the flour, the cornstarch, baking soda, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. Stir to mix.
- Pour the beer into the dry ingredients and beat with a wire whisk until the batter is smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
- After the batter has had time to rest, cut the fish into pieces that are roughly 3-4 inches long. Spread the pieces out on a couple of paper towels and blot on all sides with another paper towel to dry. Sprinkle on all sides with salt and ground black pepper.
- Add 1/4 cup of flour or cornstarch to a shallow dish. Dredge the pieces of fish in the flour, coating them on all sides. Set the flour coated fish in one layer on a plate. Do not stack the pieces on top of each other.
- Add the oil to a large, deep saucepan or stockpot, pouring in enough to come up the sides of the pan about 3-inches. Set the pan over high heat. Bring the oil to 365 degrees, as read on a deep fry thermometer.
- When the oil is at temperature, use metal tongs to dip a piece of fish into the batter, submerging it completely. Lift it from the batter and place directly into the hot oil. Repeat with 4 or 5 more pieces of fish, being careful to not overcrowd the pan. If you add to many pieces to the hot oil at once they might stick together.
- Keep an eye on the temperature of the oil as the fish fries, adjusting the heat to keep it between 350 and 365 degrees at all times.
- When the pieces of fish are a deep golden brown, use the tongs to remove them from the hot oil, placing them on a paper towel lined plate or tray. Cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm.
- Repeat with the remaining pieces of fish until they are all cooked. Serve immediatly with the tartar sauce.
Serve with french fries and Light Cabbage Slaw.
The kind of beer you use in this batter is entirely up to your personal tastes. I usually use an amber or dark beer because I love the strong(ish) flavor that it adds to the batter. If you want a more mild flavor, use a pale lager. My two favorite beers to ue in this batter is London Fog and Newcastle Brown Ale.
It's important to use cold beer in this batter AND allow the batter to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 mintues before battering and frying the fish. The goal is to have cold batter go into the hot oil. This helps keep the batter light and crispy.
If you're also cooking some french fries to go with your fried fish (fish and chips), cook the fries in the hot oil before the fish. Lay the fries on a paper towel lined plate or tray and cover loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil to keep them warm while you fry the fish.
Dredging the fish in flour or cornstarch before dipping it in the batter gives the batter something to hold on to, ensuring that the batter stays on the fish while frying instead of slipping off.
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Serving Size:about 1/3 lb fried fish with tartar sauce
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 794Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 31gCholesterol: 191mgSodium: 1587mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 76g