Even if you’re iffy about eating fish, I imagine just about everyone is up for a fish fry. I mean what more is there to say about this? Don’t we all have a soft spot in our hearts for deep fried food? (Yes!) For this version, I made a Creole-spiced beer batter that was really strong, spiced, and flavorful, making for a very enjoyable indulgence in what is really simple, summery, Southern-styled comfort food.
I really enjoyed this–the fish was tender, moist, meaty, and fresh while the batter was zesty, spicy, crunchy, and just…well, really damn good! I used a good bit of coarse cornmeal so that the end result would have a really solid grit and crunch about it while the spices have a distinctly Creole flare about them. Underneath all of this is another major player in the beer batter: the beer! I chose to go with an IPA (India Pale Ale) as I love the hoppy, strong character of this style of beer and I thought it would have the body to stand up harmoniously with these strong flavors, and it worked perfectly. Plus, you get to drink the leftovers, so you better like it.
- 1.5 pounds red snapper
- Dijon mustard
- A good bit of canola oil (for frying, so enough to cover the fish)
- Creole flavored Beer Batter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 1/4-1/2 cup creole seasoning
- 2 cayenne peppers, minced finely (or 1/4-1/2 tsp ground cayenne)
- ground mustard
- dried oregano
- ground chipotle
- ground coriander
- 12 ounces (1 bottle) cold beer, plus more to thin the batter if necessary (I used an IPA and had to use about 1.5 bottles to thin the batter out)
In a large bowl, begin by making the beer batter. Simply mix everything except for the beer, whisking the beer in last. If the batter is really thick and clumpy (more dough like and not drippy), thin it out with some extra beer as you need, whisking it all together.
Skin, debone, and portion out the fish however you see fit. I sliced up some arbitrarily sized filets. Coat each piece with a light amount of dijon mustard and rub it all over. Preheat a sturdy pan with a good amount of oil up to about 350-375 °F (figure somewhere a bit over medium heat on most stove tops), giving it a few minutes to warm up before you proceed. You can also test that the oil is hot by dropping in a small plop of batter–it should start bubbling and frying right away.
Now, dip each piece of fish in the beer batter. Dip it in and out and ensure that its well covered all over with batter. Let any major excess drip off (but don’t wait too long or it will all just slough off eventually) and then transfer this right into the hot oil, taking great care not to drop it and splash yourself with hot oil.
Depending on the thickness of your fish pieces, figure that each one could take somewhere around 5 minutes. Flip each piece once during the middle of frying to ensure both sides are well exposed to the heat. Don’t crowd the pan with too many pieces at a time as you’ll drop the oil temperature with each piece of fish you add, which would yield a soggy batter and a sad looking fish fry. Sad is bad.
As each piece finishes frying, remove it from the oil with a slotted spoon and set it aside on a layer of paper towels to drain for a few minutes (pat the tops as well when they cool a bit) to get rid of any excess oil. Also, if you have leftovers, obviously fish doesn’t keep for very long, but most importantly, don’t go reheating this in the microwave. Your best bet is to simply refry the leftovers again in oil–you’ll avoid a soggy batter and most importantly, that reheated, one-day-old fish stink.
Now a fish fry is by no means fancy food, so I simply had a side of baked beans with some ketchup for dipping (really, any sauce your heart desires) with, most importantly, a cold beer. Enjoy!