By Nick Thomas
Photography by Grace Schrater
Punxsutawney Phil may have seen his shadow a couple weeks ago, but the West Coast didn’t seem to get that memo—sorry, East Coast. Spring has sprung early on the left in a relatively sunny and mild Washington, and for some reason, all I can think about are the days of my youth and grabbing some fish and chips and a root beer with my grandfather at his favorite restaurant when I’d visit him in Arizona during my grade-school Spring Break.
This recipe for Cider-Battered Fish and Chips brings back nostalgic memories but also seems a little more mature now that I can enjoy it with a real beer or a cider. I used Square Mile Cider Company’s very quaffable Original Hard Apple Cider, which seemed like a natural choice and has just the right amount of apple flavor to add an extra level of dimension but won’t make your fish taste like a fruit salad. The frying batter is also very versatile and can be used to coat and fry just about anything. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t use the leftover batter to fry up some zucchini slices and a few of my roommate’s Oreos—sorry, Zoe.
Yields: 4-6 servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30-40 minutes
Oil for frying (quantity varies, see below)
½ cup, plus ¼ cup flour
½ cup, plus ¼ cup cornstarch
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
Pinch of cayenne
¾ cup Square Mile Cider Co. Original Hard Apple Cider
2 lbs flaky white fish such as cod, de-boned and cut into 1-2 inch wide strips
Fries (store-bought or homemade)
Chopped parsley (optional, for serving)
Lemon wedges (optional, for serving)
Tartar sauce (optional, for serving)
Heat frying oil your Best Deep Fryer or large pot if you don’t have a fryer. It needs tall sides (about a ½ inch more oil than your tallest piece of fish—my thickest piece of fish was about an inch, so I had 1-½ inches of oil) to 375 degrees.
Meanwhile, whisk ½ cup flour, ½ cup cornstarch, salt, pepper, garlic and cayenne in a large bowl, then whisk in cider until just combined. Do not over mix. Batter should be thick and smooth. Mix remaining flour and cornstarch in a separate shallow dish.
When oil is hot enough, in batches of four at a time, dip fish pieces in batter, let excess batter drip off, then dredge in flour and cornstarch mixture and gently place fish in oil. Cook for 5-8 minutes, until they’re dark golden brown on the outside and flipping at least once while cooking to ensure even cooking. Fish out (pun totally intended) with a pair of metal tongs and place on a wire cooling rack, letting oil excess oil drip onto a paper towel. Allow frying oil a minute or two to heat up again between batches.
Serve over a pile of fresh, salted fries with a side of tartar sauce, a lemon wedge and a light sprinkling of fresh chopped parsley on top.