The idea for this 30-minute fried cod recipe came from the local VFW hall in the city where we used to live. I am not kidding when I say that their fish fries are better than those at any high-end supper club! For what they lack in atmosphere, they make up for in their fish fries. People drive for miles in biting cold conditions to eat there. Can you blame them? What could be better than an assortment of succulent fish deep-fried in a light, crunchy batter on a frigid Friday night in Wisconsin? My husband and I usually eat at the bar, and never a dull moment is to be had. I am convinced that the friendliest people on earth eat fish at the bars of Wisconsin's VFW halls!
For my recipe, I narrowed it down to cod - because cod is easy to get and its pretty forgiving when you prepare it. The rice flour along with the ginger beer come together to give the batter a mild sweetness that is light, flaky, and anything but heavy. You want the juicy meat of the fish to star; the batter is only a supporting role.
Don't worry too much if the batter doesn't seem to stick to the fish. It doesn't take much to give the meat a crunchy brown crust. This meal goes well with my homemade Dilly-Horse Tarter Sauce... because I made it specifically for this dish! (Regular tarter sauce will work, too!)
I'll have a brandy old fashioned sweet - with olives, please!
and Macros Per Serving:
Total Time: 25 Minutes
(Prep: 15 Minutes / Cook: 10 Minutes)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup rice flour
- 1/4 cup crushed cornflakes
- 1/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons homemade lemon-pepper seasoning
- vegetable oil, about 2 cups
- 1 lb. cod filet
- whole milk, about 1-2 cups
- 1 cup ginger beer
- 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
I use cod that is still slightly frozen. I find it's easier to get a nice, clean cut on it, plus this keeps the meat moist when it's frying in the hot oil. (If you have a solid filet, take it out of the freezer about 3 hours before you begin. Smaller pieces won't require as much time.)
To prepare the batter for the cod, you will need to start with two medium-sized bowls. In the first bowl, season the all-purpose flour with salt and pepper. In the second bowl, whisk together the rice flour, cornflakes, lemon-pepper seasoning, and breadcrumbs.
Pour the vegetable oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet. It should come to about 1/4 inch deep. Begin to heat the oil over medium-high. It will rise to temperature as you finish preparing the cod.
Slice the cod into eight 1-inch pieces.
Place the cod pieces in a third, clean bowl. Pour enough milk over them to cover them and then toss them with your fingers. I go so far as to lightly massage the milk into the pieces for a little extra infusion of richness.
Combine the ginger beer and fish sauce. Pour half of the mixture into the bowl with the rice flour mixture and vigorously stir with a fork for about a minute. (I don't use a whisk for this part because the batter does thicken up rather quickly. Using a fork eliminates the batter from getting stuck inside the whisk.) Add the remaining ginger beer mixture to the batter and continue to stir until combined and slightly foamy.
Drain the milk off the cod pieces, discard milk. Add the cod to the seasoned all-purpose flour and toss to coat. Transfer the cod all at once to the ginger beer batter. Mix with your hands, patting the batter down into the pieces of cod until each piece is evenly coated.
By this point your oil should be hot enough to fry the fish. Test it by dropping a small amount of batter into the oil, if it sizzles rapidly, you are ready to go!
Add the cod, one piece at a time, to the hot oil. Place them in a single layer with some space between each piece. (If you have to work in batches, do! Crowding the pan will only cause your cod to cook unevenly.) After about 90 seconds, flip each piece and allow to brown on the other side for another 90 seconds.
Turn the heat to medium and allow the fish to fry for another 4 - 6 minutes (the length of time will depend on how frozen your fish was when you started). You'll know they are done when the outside is brown and crispy and the inside is flaky and moist.
Remove the fish to a cooling rack placed over paper towels to allow any excess grease to drain off.
Serve steaming hot with buttered wild rice, blanched greens, and ramekins of homemade tarter sauce.