Golden, light and wonderfully crisp, beer battered fish is a cooking technique that's easy to master – it just requires a bit of science. When the batter hits the hot oil, the carbon dioxide in the beer froths and expands, lifting the batter as bubbles escape. The batter also helps to insulate the fish, ensuring it remains tender and juicy. The fresher the batter, the crisper it is, so be sure to lay out everything you need before you start cooking.
The best fish for the job
John Susman, co-author of Australian Fish and Seafood Cookbook, recommends using seasonally available and locally sourced fish that has been handled with care. Take advantage of Australia's excellent barramundi. Its firm flesh and mild flavour pair perfectly with the crisp beer batter – you can leave the skin on for added flavour. You could also substitute the fish for peeled prawns or chunky onion rings.
How to make beer batter, step by step
Step 1 Sift 225gm (1½ cups) self-raising flour and 75gm (½ cup) cornflour into a large bowl. Gradually whisk in 375ml (1½ cups) chilled beer and 60ml (¼ cup) chilled soda water to form a thin batter. Season with salt.
Step 2 Preheat vegetable oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan over medium-high heat to 200°C.
A note on oil temperature: Make sure the oil reaches the correct temperature before adding the fish – too hot and the batter will brown but the fish won't be cooked through; not hot enough and the batter will soak up too much oil and become greasy and soggy. The most accurate way to test oil temperature is with a kitchen thermometer.
Step 3 Using a sharp knife, cut 1kg skinless firm white fish fillets (we used blue-eye trevalla) into 8 long-even pieces then toss in plain flour, shaking off any excess.
Step 4 Dip fish fillets in batter and drain off any excess.
Step 5 Gently lower battered fish into oil being careful not to create a splash; cook for 4 minutes or until golden and
just cooked through.
just cooked through.
Step 6 Remove fish from oil with tongs and drain on paper towel. Season with salt and serve with hand-cut chips, tartare sauce and a lemon cheek.