Fried fish isn't an everyday food, but it's a nice treat now and then, especially if you're avoiding red meat on Fridays during Lent.
With Mardi Gras on Tuesday, we'll start seeing more fish frys around Austin, and if you're looking to host one at your house, consider this recipe from "Just A French Guy Cooking" author Alexis Gabriel Aïnouz. Inspired by the classic British fish 'n' chips, Aïnouz ditches the french fries and sticks to the beer-battered whitefish served with a homemade mayonnaise. Omit the chile flakes if you don't want mayo with a kick, but don't leave out the lemon juice, which will help emulsify the sauce.
Fish 'n' Chips (Minus the Chips)
The best fish 'n' chips are eaten in the street in London, on a bench that's too narrow, surrounded by deafening car horns, in the pouring rain, with greasy hands and steamed-up glasses. But, if that experience doesn't appeal, you can also cook fish 'n' chips at home. So, what happened to the chips? Answer: There aren’t any. The fish is too good, and anyway, there is enough fat already. Instead, I suggest you accompany the fish with a crisp, full-flavored salad. Use a lighter beer, such as a lager or a pale ale to make the batter.
— Alexis Gabriel Aïnouz
For the mayonnaise:
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 egg yolk
Salt, to taste
1 teaspoon mustard
1/3 cup neutral-flavored oil, such as canola or peanut
1/3 cup olive oil
Finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, plus extra lemon wedges to serve
Pinch of chile flakes
For the batter:
1 cup light beer
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons dried Mediterranean herbs (such as oregano, thyme or herbes de Provence)
1 teaspoon baking soda
For the fish:
4 (6-ounce) fish fillets, about 1/2-inch thick (cod, haddock or another whitefish)
Cornstarch, for dusting
Peanut oil, for deep-frying
For the mayonnaise, put the crushed garlic, egg yolk, salt, mustard and lemon zest in a bowl. Mix the oils together and gradually whisk in until incorporated. Bravo! You’ve made a mayonnaise. Finally, whisk in the lemon juice and chile flakes.
For the batter, pour the beer into a wide, deep dish and lightly mix in the cornstarch, flour, salt, pepper, dried herbs and baking soda. Any lumps? Even better.
To prepare the fish, dust the fillets with cornstarch until coated, shaking off any excess. Heat the oil for deep-frying in a large pan to 350 degrees.
Dip the fish fillets in the batter until coated, then deep-fry until golden brown. Drizzling a little extra batter over the fillets while they are cooking makes for even more crispy and crunchy shards of batter when fried. Drain the fillets on a plate lined with paper towels and serve at once with the sauce and wedges of lemon. Serves 4.
— From "Just A French Guy Cooking: Easy Recipes and Kitchen Hacks for Rookies" by Alexis Gabriel Aïnouz (Quadrille, $19.99)