This beer battered fish and chips recipe makes the perfect fish and chips for the classic takeaway that is an iconic dish for the British, Australians and New Zealanders – so iconic that there is a national fish and chips day in the UK celebrated on 4 September, which is FryDay. For us it’s just an excuse to eat fish and chips and share our recipe for the best beer battered fish and chips ever.
My beer battered fish and chips recipe makes perfect fish and chips, the classic takeaway that for we Australians and the British and New Zealanders is an iconic dish, as eating fish and chips, preferably by a beach, is so intrinsic to our culinary culture. Use this recipe along with my hand cut potato chips recipe and easy homemade tartare sauce recipe and you’ll be enjoying your best fish and chips ever.
This beer battered fish and chips recipe results in perfect fish and chips with the beer batter crunch we all love while keeping the fish fillets deliciously moist. The secret is that the heat of the fryer goes mostly into the batter rather than the fish itself and quickly forms a crunchy crust – every single time.
I’ve been experimenting with this beer battered fish and chips recipe for months – along with recipes for the perfect chips and the ultimate tartare sauce to follow – and I probably could have continued experimenting if Lara hadn’t told me it was National Fish and Chips Day or FryDay in the UK and today was as good a day as any to publish my take on the classic fish and chips recipe.
Best Beer Battered Fish and Chips Recipe for Perfect Fish and Chips
This beer battered fish and chips recipe is the result of months of experiments here in our Siem Reap kitchen, testing nearly every one of the best fish and chips recipes out there to try to achieve the classic fish and chips that we Australians and our British and New Zealand cousins rate as the best example of one of our favourite dishes.
The use of beer instead of water for the batter mixture for this beer battered fish and chips recipe is not just to add extra flavour to the batter, it serves a couple of purposes. Firstly, alcohol burns faster than water, so the crust of the batter firms faster, protecting the fish from being heavy with oil. Secondly, the foam of the beer, formed mainly from carbon dioxide, keeps the batter light as it cooks.
The other liquid addition to the batter mixture for our beer battered fish and chips recipe is strong alcohol, such as vodka. The reason is that, along with the beer, the vodka accelerates the removal of moisture from the batter as soon as it hits the oil. Yes, it really makes a difference.
The genius of this beer battered fish and chips recipe is that you get a crispy batter that contrasts with the moist fish, that has been protected from the bulk of the heat. The speed with which the crispy batter forms – around 2-3 minutes – means there’s little chance that the fish fillets will dry out. With a good batter, oil at the right temperature, and a close watch on the fillets as they fry, it’s almost foolproof.
Tips for Making Perfect Beer Battered Fish
Any advice on making the best beer battered fish and chips recipe has to begin with the fish, so let’s talk about fish. When Heston Blumenthal did his tests for ‘Heston’s Perfect Fish and Chips recipe’, he chose turbot as the best fish, but cod, haddock and skate were popular as well.
In Australia, we generally prefer flathead or skate for our fish and chips, but chef Josh Niland, the renowned fish butcher and restaurateur, swears by pink ling, a fish with a long eel-like body. But generally, a firm white-fleshed fish that has been deboned (if necessary) is good to go.
When it comes to the beer batter, I use a mix of light and dark beers, as using a dark beer only tended to make the finished batter on the fish very dark. It looked as if the fish was overcooked when it wasn’t. However, I love the flavour of the dark beer, so I reached a compromise by combining it with light beer.
While vodka in the batter has been a go-to for chefs such as Heston Blumenthal, why not use another form of alcohol that adds some extra flavour? Like gin. Juniper is a key ingredient of gin and it’s wonderful, but you could also look for gins that have botanicals such as lemon and orange. Note that you don’t have to use Tanqueray No. Ten Gin (save that for a perfect martini), just use a London dry gin that works for your budget.
Oil temperature is critically important for this beer battered fish and chips recipe. If you have one of the new breed deep-fryers this is no problem. If you’re doing this in a frypan, you need a candy thermometer. This is a thermometer that is attached to the side of a pan and sits in the pan. Buy one that at least goes to 200°C. They usually have a ‘deep-frying’ indicator at around the 190°C mark.
It’s essential to have the fryer oil up to temperature before dredging your fillets, but it’s even more important to add the cold beer last to the batter and just stir enough to incorporate it; don’t worry about lumps too much.
You might notice in my photo above that there are almost lacework edges to the fish fillets. This is from holding the fish fillet just above the surface of the oil before letting the fillet slide in. This is a lovely effect that you can enhance by ladling leftover batter onto the fillets as they cook. Practice makes perfect with this idea that comes from making tempura.
When making our beer battered fish and chips recipe, we recommend making your chips first and keeping them warm in an oven. We’ll post a recipe for perfect chips next.
Traditionally, lemons are served on the side to squeeze over the fish, however, you would have noticed we’ve got limes. We have lemons here in Siem Reap but limes are far more plentiful and lime juice works well. If you want to give the dish even more of a Southeast Asian twist, consider serving them with our Cambodian fish cakes and this fragrant herb salad.
Beer Battered Fish and Chips Recipe
- 400 g whitefish fillet cut into 4 pieces, patted dry on paper towels
- 500-1,000 ml peanut oil or similar vegetable oil
- 90 g rice flour
- 40 g self-raising flour
- 10 g cornstarch
- 2 g baking powder
- 80 ml gin
- 10 g honey
- 90 ml lager beer
- 50 ml dark beer
- Preheat the oil to 180˚C. Prepare an oven tray with a cooling rack lined with paper towels.
- For the batter, combine the flours, cornstarch and baking powder in a large bowl. Mix the gin and the honey in a cup and add to the bowl. Whisk the mixture together. When ready, add the cold beer and whisk.
- Have a plate with a layer of rice flour ready to lightly dust the fish fillets.
- With the fillets having been patted dry, dust a fillet in the rice flour and shake off the excess before immediately coating in the batter mixture.
- Let it drip for a second and add to the deep fryer. Check the colour of the bottom of the fillet after 1 minute. If it’s golden brown flip the fillet over and cook for another minute. If it’s not yet golden, wait another 30 seconds before flipping.
- Drain the cooked fillets on the paper towel lined tray, season and serve with fries, tartare sauce, lemon or lime wedges and dill pickles.
Do let us know if you make our perfect beer battered fish and chips recipe as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.