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Perfect match: fish and chips with wheat beer

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for beer-battered flathead with salt and vinegar chips.

By Alice Storey
  • Serves 4
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 1 hr cooking plus soaking, cooling, drying, resting
Beer-battered flathead with salt and vinegar chips
Beer-battered flathead with salt and vinegar chips

There are plenty of dishes of the "Begin this recipe two days ahead" kind. Or, as here, the "four to five hours ahead" kind. But that's okay. Being a GT reader, you take those recipes in your stride - you're more than happy to go slow when it comes to cooking and eating. And drinking. So, with this classic dish of fish 'n' chips, I'd like to introduce another variation to the take-your-time recipe genre: "Before you even start, go out and buy a six-pack of cold wheat beers".

You'll need six bottles (at least), because one will go in the batter, at least one will go in the cook (deep-frying is thirsty work) and each diner will want one to wash their dinner down. Well, okay, you'll probably need more than six. What the hell - just buy a slab.

Unlike most other beers, which are made primarily from malted barley, wheat beers have varying proportions of pale wheat grains added to the mash, lending a refreshing lightness and distinct cloudy appearance.

Anyway, I've suggested a good cloudy wheat beer here because its often-spicy, sometimes-sour flavours match both the malt vinegar and the tartare sauce very well - and it makes a particularly delicious batter.

Wheat beer – cloudy, spicy, sometimes a little sour – is great with this beachy favourite, both in the batter and alongside.

Ingredients

  • 4 large potatoes such as sebago, scrubbed, cut into 1.5cm-thick chips, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes
  • 150 gm plain flour, plus extra for dusting (1 cup)
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 285 ml wheat beer such as Murray’s Whale Ale
  • For deep-frying: vegetable oil
  • 600 gm skinless flathead fillets (about 6), cut into 5cm pieces
  • To serve: lemon wedges and tartare sauce
Malt-vinegar salt
  • 80 ml malt vinegar (1/3 cup)
  • 60 gm sea salt flakes

Method

Main
  • 1
    Cook potato in a saucepan of simmering salted water over medium heat until just tender (6-8 minutes; do not overcook), drain and transfer to an oven tray lined with absorbent paper. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate to dry (4-5 hours).
  • 2
    Meanwhile, for malt-vinegar salt, preheat oven to 180C. Stir vinegar and salt in a bowl to combine, spread on an oven tray lined with baking paper and cook until vinegar has evaporated (10-12 minutes). Set aside to cool.
  • 3
    Place flour in a large bowl, make a well, gradually whisk in beer until combined, then whisk in yolk, season to taste, and set aside to rest (30 minutes). Whisk eggwhite and a pinch of salt in a separate bowl until soft peaks form, fold into flour mixture (take care not to over-mix it) and set aside.
  • 4
    Preheat oil in a deep-fryer or deep saucepan to 180C. Deep-fry potato in batches until golden and crisp (5-6 minutes; be careful, hot oil will spit). Transfer to an oven tray lined with absorbent paper, scatter with malt-vinegar salt, set aside and keep warm.
  • 5
    Dust fish in flour, dip in batter, shaking to remove excess, and deep-fry in batches, turning occasionally, until golden and just cooked through (5-6 minutes; be careful, hot oil will spit). Drain on absorbent paper, season with malt-vinegar salt and serve hot with chips, lemon wedges and tartare sauce.

Notes

Drink suggestion by Max Allen