Hi Everyone, there are several ways to prepare fish to fry: seasoned, and dusted with flour, breadcrumbs, cornmeal or some other type of dry breading. And then there is batter frying. Batter frying is where the seasoned fish is dipped into a wet mixture and then fried.For my part, I prefer fish to be lightly dusted and pan-fried. The whole reason for this week’s column being about beer-battered Bangamary is just because I wanted to write that headline! It’s the alliteration. I know. Don’t laugh.Try saying that headline quickly, repeatedly. It’s good practice for broadcasters, it’s like saying Miss Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter… Okay, I am getting way off course here. Back to the beer battered Bangamary.
One of the main reasons for using batter to fry food is to protect the food from drying out while cooking. It allows the food to be fully cooked and yet remain tender. The decision to bread or batter is two-fold: first, it is a matter of personal preference and secondly, certain types of fish are best cooked by indirect heat in order to remain moist and not dry out. Bangamary is a type of fish that works both ways, breaded or battered.
A batter can be made simply of flour and water, however things like eggs, baking powder and baking soda can be added as leavening agents to give rise, bulk and volume. Batters can be made with other types of flours too – corn starch, ground cassava, sago, rice flour and cornmeal. Wet ingredients can include milk, buttermilk, and the subject of this column – beer!
Beer batters are popular because beer adds flavour as well leavening due to its yeasty frothiness. And when done right, and served hot, it’s super crispy.
There are many recipes for beer batter but essentially, all you need to make good beer batter is beer and self-rising flour. Once you have those two ingredients you’re good to go. Here are a few things that are key to beer batter cooking.
The beer should be very cold
Use a beer that you can drink with the meal (same rule that applies to cooking with wine)
Do not over mix the batter
Lightly dusting the food with flour before dipping into the batter enables the batter to adhere well
Serve the food hot to get the fullness of the crisp texture of the batter
Deep fry to give the food room to float and cook all round
There are basically two types of beer – lagers and ales. And in both categories, there are a variety of sub-categories that range from pale to light to dark. As you can see, the familiar Banks Beer has varying degrees as well – Premium, Draft, Amber Ale… According to beer-batter aficionados, it is important to choose the right beer to match the type of seafood or fish that you are going to fry. Reason being that the makeup of the beer will have an impact on the taste and texture of the beer battered item. It makes sense because all fish is not created equal; each has a different texture and taste. However, since I am no beer expert, and knowing the texture and flavour of Bangamary, I figured that I couldn’t go wrong using Premium Banks Beer and I am glad that I was not wrong because the beer battered Bangamary turned out exactly as I thought it would – flavourful and crispy.
It was really Guyanese-style fish and chips – fried Bangamary with green plantain fries and fiery pepper sauce. And of course, you have to chase it down with a bottle of the same type of beer with which you made the batter. Very cold of course.
Ready to give it a try?
2 pounds of Bangamary fillet, cleaned, rinsed and pat dry
Seasoning (see notes below)
Salt and pepper to taste
All purpose flour for dusting
1½ cups self-rising flour (see notes below)
1 1/3 cups very cold beer
Oil for deep-frying
1. Season the fish with your choice of seasoning along with salt and pepper to taste and set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.
2. Lightly dust the fish with flour shaking off any excess. Set the fish to rest on a wire rack for 10 minutes (this so that the flour can adhere to the fish and to prevent the batter from falling off when cooking).
3. Heat the oil until hot but not smoking on medium heat.
4. Add the self-rising flour to a bowl, pour in the beer and whisk until the batter just comes together, it is okay if there are tiny lumps, the key here is not to over-mix the batter. The batter should not be watery, more the consistency of pancake batter so add a little less beer if necessary.
5. Dip the fillets one at a time in the batter and add to heated oil, do not over crowd the pan; it is important that each piece of fish has roomto cook. Fry until golden on both sides and drain well on kitchen paper. Repeat until all the fish is battered and fried. Serve hot with pepper sauce and lime or lemon wedges along with fries of your choice. If you have a flavoured vinegar, you can serve that in place of the lemon/lime wedges.
To season the fish, you can use green seasoning or make thyme and garlic paste to rub all over the fish. Or, you can use your favourite dry fish seasoning.Be careful not to add too much salt to season the fish because the batter will have salt also.
You do not have to go and buy self-rising flour to make this recipe or any other recipe that calls for self-rising flour. Make your own. The measurements are: ¾ cup all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt. You can double or triple the recipe depending on how much you need.