This recipe, from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, was the answer to my longstanding wish to make fried haddock as well as really good seafood restaurants. It bears little to no resemblance to typical batter recipes available to home chefs. My experience using the recipe was that the batter was a bit too thick, which might have been a result of my using either too much flour or doing excessive mixing of the batter. Either way I thinned the batter with more beer and all came out fine. Oh, Kenji mentioned that lower gluten flours can be mixed with regular wheat flour to limit gluten development and thus altogether avoid having batter that is too thick.
If you want a fine education about the physics and chemistry involved in making foods like fried haddock then buy Kenji's book, The Food Lab©. It is seriously great. I am not going to provide Kenji's scientific explanations in this recipe. I am providing explicit directions that must be followed exactly if you want great results.
Okay, when I made the fish I also made fried onion rings using the same batter, leftover from the fish frying, but thinned slightly using additional beer. They were perfect! Thus, I am including directions for making them at the end of this recipe as they really go well with the fried haddock. I'm also recommending that you make and chill the Food Nirvana creamy coleslaw prior to making the fried haddock.
If you want to make the onion rings then cut the ends off and peel and pre-slice a large sweet onion into slices about 1/2" or more thick. Separate the slices into rings. Put the rings into a one gallon Ziploc® bag and freeze the rings. When you are about ready to make fried haddock, rinse the rings under warm tap water to thaw them. Spread the thawed onion rings out on a towel, then remove and discard any loose membrane from each ring. The remaining directions for making the fried onion rings are at the end of the fried haddock recipe.
My sweetheart Peggy and I oh'd and ah'd a lot as we ate the delicious crispy fish and perfect onion rings. The only other thing I want to mention is that the batter results in fried fish that is as good or better than anything I ever had at a good seafood restaurant.
Ingredients: (Serves two adults, two pieces each)
1 lb. of fresh, skinless raw haddock filet
1 cup of flour (or mix of flours) for making the batter (5.5 ounces)
1/2 cup of flour for dredging the raw haddock
2 ounces of very cold vodka
6 ounces (or more) of very cold light colored beer (I use Corona®)
1/2 cup of cornstarch
1 tsp. of baking powder
1/4 tsp. of baking soda
1/4 tsp. of paprika
1 quart of peanut oil for frying
2 tsp. of Kosher salt (I used sea salt)
Preheat the peanut oil to 350 degrees F in a wok or a deep cast iron skillet or a pot. Use a good candy or instant/quick read thermometer to be certain of the oil temperature.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F and put in two large serving bowls and two dinner plates.
Put a wire cookie cooling rack into a rimmed baking sheet.
Chill a bottle of beer and a small container with the vodka in the freezer but do not let the beer freeze.
Put a one quart metal bowl into the refrigerator.
Mix the dry ingredients in a two quart metal bowl with a whisk. That includes one cup of flour, the half cup of cornstarch, the salt, the paprika, the baking powder and the baking soda. Put the bowl of mixed ingredients into the refrigerator.
Put the 1/2 cup of flour for dredging into a wide shallow bowl.
Cut the haddock filet into four roughly equal size pieces, cover each piece lightly with the flour and then put each piece on the wire rack.
Once the oil is at 350 degrees F, lower the heat, then remove the one quart metal bowl from the refrigerator and pour into it the 6 ounces of beer (1/2 bottle) and the two ounces of vodka
Remove the bowl of dry ingredients from the refrigerator and use a large spoon to mix together the beer and vodka with the dry ingredients. Stir only until the ingredients are barely mixed. Do not over stir. You do not want excess gluten to develop and make the batter too thick.
The batter should not be thick, nor should it be runny. If it is too thick then add some cold beer to thin it. What you want is a batter that will coat the fish pieces and cling to the fish but not be more than 1/8th of an inch thick.
Coat each piece of fish with the batter. Then quickly coat it with flour from the dredging bowl and put it into the hot oil. I simply used tongs and dropped the battered fish into the dredging bowl and used surrounding flour to dust the top. Then I carefully flipped each piece of fish onto a spatula using the tongs and transferred it to the hot oil.
Fry the fish for six minutes turning it over every minute to fry the fish evenly on both sides.
Use tongs to take out one piece of the fish. Cut an end off it and examine it quickly for complete frying of the batter and a white and very moist flakiness to the fish. If it is done, remove the other pieces of fish with tongs, let each piece drip oil off for a few seconds, and put all of them onto a paper towel in one of the pre-heated serving bowls. Put the bowl into the oven if you are going to make the onion rings described below.
If the batter and/or the fish are not fried enough then fry them for one or two more minutes. Do not over fry or the fish will be tough and dry. For the piece that you cut, hold it vertically in the oil with tongs during any final frying such that the fish flesh itself never touches the oil.
Use a slotted spoon to remove any pieces of fried batter from the oil.
Either serve the fish on the prewarmed dinner plates or put it into the oven while you make the onion rings described next.
Directions for making Fried Onion Rings:
The onion rings on the towel from the procedure described at the beginning of this recipe should not be overly wet. If they are then wipe away excess moisture with a paper towel.
If necessary, adjust the thickness of the leftover batter used for the haddock to be somewhat more runny using an ounce of the cold beer.
Adjust the temperature of the oil, if necessary, to maintain it at 350 degrees F.
Dip each onion ring into the batter using tongs to coat it, then fry them four at a time in the hot oil, for a total frying time of three to four minutes, flipping them once halfway through the frying time to assure they are fried the same on both sides.
Remove the fried onion rings using tongs, allowing a few seconds for hot oil to drip off and then put them on a paper towel in the second pre-heated serving bowl. After two batches, salt lightly, then cover the completed batches with a paper towel. Do that with each two batches to absorb any excess peanut oil.
When done be sure to turn off the heat under the oil. Also turn off the oven.
Serve the meal on the pre-warmed dinner plates, along with other meal items made earlier.
Typical and great accompaniments to this meal are coleslaw and ice cold beer. An alternative to the fried onion rings would be perfect French Fries. Yes, you can see that recipe in Food Nirvana too.