This recipe is based on a Heston Blumenthal recipe that was shown on TV. Since it included the essential vodka element I decided to give it a go with nitrous pump and all! The recipe with ingredients and full instructions are detailed at the end of the article for those interested in experimenting for themselves. You will be wise to learn from my slightly botched job.
First of all you have to make up the batter mix. This consists of plain flour, rice flour, vodka and honey and then lager. I was making fish and chips for two so I used 100 g of both types of flour, 1 tsp of baking powder, 150 ml of vodka and half a tablespoon of honey, Manuka honey no less! Unfortunately I used vodka that I had stored in the freezer and it made the honey really difficult to combine with the other ingredients. Daft? Yes. I knew as I poured it in it was probably a mistake but went ahead and did it anyway. The recipe uses a whipped cream canister or soda dispenser to make the batter really frothy. You have to add the lager (150 ml for 2 fish batters worth) in to the batter immediately before you put it into the canister so that you lose minimal bubbles. I did this but overfilled my inadequately sized canister and ended up having to pour it all out and back in again frantically as the mixture rapidly lost its fizz! You then seal the canister, load in a charger and put it in the fridge to cool down for half an hour.
After a glass of wine and most of a large bag of Kettle Chips plus olives and feta (and already feeling full having stupidly ruined my appetite) it was time to get battering. Oh and you have to use a tonne of oil (the recipe says ground nut oil but I used sunflower). The oil needs to be heated to 440 degrees Fahrenheit according to the recipe. I obediently heated up the oil in a large saucepan and used a temperature probe to measure. In between probing the oil I prepped my fish. Again I deviated from the recipe and used cod instead of turbot. The fish has to be rinsed, paper towel dried and lightly dusted in flour to make the batter stick. This is the time to give them a good grind of pepper and shake of salt. Then comes the fun part; time to let rip with the dispenser. It is best to fire the dispenser into a bowl and then dip in the fish as the stuff literally explodes out. I tentatively squeezed down the lever and the batter shot out all over the place. I hurriedly coated the fish and then dropped it into the oil. Disaster! It cooked in about 2 seconds and then immediately started burning the outside. Perhaps the recipe was specifically intended for turbot and not cod or more likely is that the cod I bought wasn’t chunky enough. On reflection it wasn’t quite up to the 2-3 cm required of the recipe. I fished (ho ho) the cod out and set it aside turning the heat right down to give the second piece a go. This was mildly more successful but you are supposed to top up the batter in between cooking by taking it out temporarily and squirting on more batter mixture then dunking back in. However, in the uncontrolled environment outside of the bowl the batter was shooting out all over the place! Nightmare! Tiles, kettle, hob, microwave, me; all splattered. For the final piece of fish (it was two portions but one of them was split into two smaller pieces so three bits of fish in total) I turned the heat off completely and tried to execute more controlled batter addition whilst cooking. This was by far and away the most successful of the three. If I endeavoured to try this again I would hope not to repeat the hiccups of attempt one!
To accompany the vodka and lager battered fish I made wedges and peas. The recipe has a fancy potato accompaniment as well as a suggestion to add pickled onion water to an atomiser and spray over the finished product for fish and chip shop authenticity. This was beyond my capabilities today. I was barely able to hold the fish together and bog standard wedges and peas was about as much as I could stretch to!
It was enjoyable although I have made batters a lot tastier. That isn’t to say I would write this recipe off completely. I think using the whipped cream dispenser takes a bit of getting used to and perhaps it didn’t add anything to my dish as I wasn’t used to handling it but it definitely should add to the overall bubbliness and crunchiness of the fish batter if operated properly.
Hopefully if you decide to give the recipe a go you will heed my mistakes and make something beautiful!
The Recipe in All its Glory
Yield: 4 portions
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