I get asked about beer batter all the time: How do you make it? Does it matter what beer I use?
I want to dispel a few myths about beer batter. I’ve read so many ridiculous ways to prepare beer batter I thought it’s about time to debunk all the nonsense.
Deep breath, here I go…
FIRST RULE: Beer batter is not complicated, it should only contain beer and self-raising flour. It does not need water, ice, soda water, cornflour, bicarb or any other rubbish.
SECOND RULE: The beer should be cold. Along with the carbonation of the beer the temperature helps make the batter crisp. I do not know the science behind this, I’ll ask Heston Blumenthal to research it and get back to you.
THIRD RULE: You DO NOT need to sift the flour, and don’t over-whisk it. A few lumps actually makes for a better texture.
FOURTH RULE and most important rule of beer batter: It is important to choose the correct beer according to what you are going to cook. As any ingredient ranges in texture and taste, so does beer. Beers range from a light lager all the way up to a crazy chewy stout. Know your beer and match it accordingly.
If deep-frying seafood use the following beer in the batter:
- Flathead – Lager or a Pale Ale.
- Cod – Pale Ale or an English Bitter
- Sardines – a Japanese Lager
- Oysters – Stout or Porter
Note: The beer that works in the batter will generally be the correct beer to drink with the final dish. Remember though there are always exceptions!
(Makes enough for four medium pieces of fish)
- 220g self-raising flour
- 1 x 330ml bottle of cold beer (the appropriate one)
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
- Sea salt
- In your Kitchen Aid with the whisk attachment, add the flour and beer and whisk. Do not over whisk as a few lumps adds a bit of extra texture. You can do it by hand.
- Pre-heat your fryer to 180ºC. You can use a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat with a thermometer but a small domestic fryer is well worth the few dollars. I have a Breville fryer, it’s brilliant.
- Dredge your ingredient (ie fish) in flour, tap to shake off any excess then coat in the batter.
- Fry for a few minutes or until golden brown, remove from oil and drain on kitchen towel. Season well, immediately.
Some suggestions of things to batter and fry:
- Fish, prawns, mussels, oysters
- Banana, pineapple
- Onion Rings, potato slices
- Hot dogs, pork sausages
Who am I kidding? You can deep-fry almost anything!
NOTE: You can add some freshly ground spices to the batter to give a flavour kick if you like. Try deep frying fish in a beer batter laced with cumin, coriander and paprika to give a Moroccan direction. Serve it with a Moroccan zucchini salad and yogurt.
The image above shows beer battered flathead tails. I’ve used a Kooinda Pale Ale in this batter. The pale ale’s texture and flavours match beautifully with the flathead. Buy a six pack, that way you get to enjoy the beers with the final dish.