Beer battered fish

There’s a lot to be said for a good beer batter. I like it to be puffy and I really like it to be crisp. I want to know it’s there, but not so much that the fish doesn’t get a look in. I want it to be a part of something that is going to make the world a better place.

This is such a beer batter.

This recipe was given to me by my mate Perry who was gifted it by a guy who ran a busy fish and chip shop, so I was immediately pretty sure he would know something of a good batter. After trying this batter recipe I knew for a fact that he did indeed know a thing about a good batter.

Now that was another bloody cracking anecdote now wasn’t it.

Also, i’ve got a youtube channel now and this recipe is on it and the link is at the bottom of the page.

BEER BATTERED FISH

Serves 4

600-700g fresh fish fillets, pin bone and skin removed

1 cup plain flour, plus extra to dust

1 cup self-raising flour

1 can (375 ml) of whatever beer you have in your hand

1 tablespoon canola oil, plus enough to fill your deep fryer

Chips, tartare and lemon, to serve

Fill deep fryer with oil to level.

Get oil up to temperature. Around 180 C (350 F) is good.

To make the batter, mix flours, oil and beer. Whisk until your batter is quite smooth and is thick enough to coat your finger nicely. Not too thick is the key here. If it seams a little thick you might want to add another splash of that beer you’re drinking.

Coat fish fillets with plain flour, shake slightly to leave only the slightest dusting of flour and then dip them into the batter.

Drag them out of the batter and ever-so-slightly drag them across the side of the bowl to remove excess.

Deep fry for 3 minutes or so, until fish is cooked and batter is crisp.

Season with salt and serve with chips, tartare and lemon, and maybe a nice little salad.

TARTARE SAUCE

1 ½ cups good mayonnaise. I believe that something that tastes like it belongs in your mouth is key here.

2 tablespoons chopped dill pickle

2 tablespoons chopped capers (even if you think you don’t like capers, you should still use them in here)

2 tablespoons chopped spring onion (shallot)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and get that thing all mixed up so you might serve it with your fish.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNC08ID_yaw

My mother told me if I didn’t have something nice to say I shouldn’t say anything at all but…

WARNING: this article features the ruckus language of the salty old sea dog… a few times.

I am not a fussy fucker when I go out to an eating house of any description but I do have a few expectations.
I expect to get what I paid for. $5 for baked beans on toast dictates it is fine to receive Heinz baked beans on mighty white.
I expect if I am paying $80 for a free-range dodo egg, then that is what I receive.
I expect my order to be what I asked for.
And most of all, I expect all ample bosomed waitresses to be topless. Wait, that’s just at the titty bar right?

Two pretty average experiences from two of my favourite places to eat… Two places that I normally walk away from smiling and chirpy and satiated. But not today.

First it was the Gunshop Cafe in Brisbane’s West End.

A cracking spot for a Saturday morning feeling-a-little-bit-simple-brained (or any other day and mental capacity come to think of it) breakfast. The place has a few different sections (we always opt for the courtyard out back as it gives you a little more leeway when you have two crazy assed hungry country kids tagging along for the ride and a free meal), a great middle-of-the-city-country-chic-shed-bar sorta feel and some very trendy staff. I’m not sure what sort of crowd it is that they go fishing for but it seemed like a little bit of everything was eating breakfast this morning. They even had the mellow country folk represented with the addition of us at “the stockman’s table” (or something like that. A large communal table out back… Or maybe that’s just what they called it when they sat us there…). Didn’t see any carnies though, but also didn’t see any “no carnies allowed,” signs either. New age.

The food and coffees were a bit haphazard from the start. Orders got a little muddled (our waiter chose not to write anything down. Which is uber cool if you are a super waiter but not so cool if you don’t get the order right at the POS machine. Kinda just dumb looking then). But I think I should mention now they did nothing at all to wrong me personally, just every other single person at the table. Three serves of poached eggs came out like painted stones; hard, pointless and not meant for consumption, and one breakfast was forgotten about completely. A coffee mistake here, and another mishap there… I just think these are the things that you have to be on top of (that and your girlfriend) when you are displaying awards and the such stating you are the best breakfast slash cafe in the state for a good few years now, and also voted best breakfast in Australia in 2010. And a breaky chef sending out hard poached eggs. Don’t even get me started on that. If that was me I would be embarrassed. Very embarrassed. Embarrassed like the teenage boy who got caught in his best friends mother’s knickers drawer… With the mother…

the menu
the menu

The Gunshop Cafe has an effing awesome menu and to their credit no one I know, nor myself, have ever had a bad meal there before today. And shit, the slate is still clean for me, it’s just that there were issues with everyone else’s meal and this just happened to be the time I have my pen and paper (new school model. AKA. The I-Phone) out and ready. Seriously prepared to write some very nice words about some beautifully executed food. But was you see in front of you now is all I got…

mmmm lamb
mmmm lamb

I ordered the clover creek lamb cutlets, which came with bubble and squeak, fried duck egg, kale and tomato jam. It was effing delicious. Honestly, it didn’t stand a chance. It was like throwing a plump rabbit into a cage of hungry tigers. Beautiful.

all good 'cept the eggs...
all good ‘cept the egg…

One of the other dishes that were ordered was the Gunshop classic; Toulouse sausage, sweet potato and caramelised onion hash cake, tomato jam, poached egg and rocket. The description said nothing about hard egg. ‘nuff said.

I would ask you to please try the Gunshop Café despite what has been said here today. Everyone fucks up every now and then…

Write off number two; Fishmongers, Byron Bay.

parsley and sweet potato crisps do NOT equal gourmet
parsley and sweet potato crisps do NOT equal gourmet

Admittedly it has been a while since I’ve been to Fish Mongers… Or old Byron town for that matter. But it’s officially off my list of places I want to go to eat next time I’m in Byron Bay. Honestly, for gourmet fish and chips this was fucking shocking (yes I did say fucking. I’m so worked up about this shit that I may need a second cup of tea). Soggy, hardly battered fish* (hoki. WTF?), less than average squid rings and chips more flaccid then a 94-year-old man’s penis. Well worth the 19 bucks I paid for it.

mmmm olives... I mean errr octopus
mmmm olives… I mean errr octopus

The BBQ octopus look kinda like olives, which is kind of cute (like pink unicorns and old men hanging out a the play ground), and after trying it I kinda wished it was olives. It was chewy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m cool with occy having a bit of mouth feel but this was ridiculous. It was like trying to gnaw an old lady’s callus off. Not that I’ve tried that before. Honestly. 17 bucks well spent right there

That was a shocking “gourmet” fish and chips experience. I’m not sure when the definition of gourmet changed from “fine food and drink” to “horrible shit that a year 8 home economics class wouldn’t serve up”, but I truly wish someone would’ve sent me a memo…

*I’m all for a thin batter but it still has to be there. I mean, I don’t want the cops or DOCS knocking at my door, but battered means battered. This batter was slightly thicker then if the fish had been dusted in flour and then moistened while wiping the sweat from the chef’s brow. And dear good lord it should be crisp, non?

if life gives you a lemon…

If life gives you a lemon ask life for some salt and tequila too… And maybe a couple of hot Canadian backpackers to share it with. And while you’re at it tell life that it should probably be concentrating more on helping out bloody buggery bollocksy boring a-holes (that’s asshole for those amongst us who are a little dull) and a little less on handing out free fruit.

Someone once said you could also make lemonade.

But I suggest that if life didn’t give you the tequila and backpackers etc. to go with your lemon, try preserving it for later use. If life did give you the extras, don’t forget to thank it…

Preserved lemons are great for any kind of North African sort of cooking and can also be used to add extra depth (I know, what a wanker) to any dish you use lemon in, or just replace it totally for a different kind of lemony goodness that will have your friends wondering… and not just about your mental well-being for a change.

For example
• Fish and chips with tartare. Incorporate finely diced* preserved lemon into a mayonnaise or tartare sauce. Mmmmm.
• Any kind of tagine
• Stir through yoghurt and serve with fishcakes or croquettes, or a curried lentil soup
• Try preserved lemon in a bloody mary, or in a bloody mary dressing for oysters
• Preserved lemon and tequila chicken
• In a salad with parsley, croutons and bone marrow to go with a steak

Preserving lemons is this easy
1. For every lemon you need a handful of coarse salt, ½ a cinnamon stick (I didn’t have one lurking on my spice shelf so I used cassia bark** instead) and 1 small bay leaf
2. Quarter your lemons into a large bowl and rub them with the salt, making sure to squeeze and thoroughly rub each piece
3. Pack into a sterilized jar with a piece of cinnamon and bay, and some of the salty lemon juice in between each layer
4. If there’s any salty juice left pour it over the top
5. Store in a cool dark place next to the thought you had about going to see the new batman movie, and forget about it for at least a month. Except in the case of the new batman movie which you should forget about forever.
6. After one month you may use with total disregard for any rules and regulations
7. Remember to thank life for the lemon

*most recipes using preserved lemon call for the flesh and pith to be removed and discarded, and the peel finely chopped.
**cassia bark. Closely related to cinnamon but not as subtle in flavour, and the older bark is much rougher in texture.