Savory, golden brown, beer-battered cod fillets served with french fries, lemon wedges, and tangy tartar sauce.
It may sound silly, but while I’ve fried the cod filets in hot oil, I made the french fries in my air fryer. The fries taste equally as good but without all the fuss. Deep-fried foods are generally done in moderation in our kitchen so this allows me to enjoy my fresh fried fish and chips without all of the guilt.
The issue with frying both items does also lie in the preparation. While both fish and fries can be cooked in a big pot of oil, each does require different frying temperatures and times, so you either need two pots of oil or are forced to fry in batches. Unfortunately, both taste best when eaten immediately so I split up the work between my Power air fryer and my Dutch oven of oil.
Why not do them both in the air fryer? Well, this particular style of wet batter for the fish does not work in the air fryer. The batter is a mix of flour, water, salt, baking powder, and a pale ale. Any good lager would work, too, just make sure it’s a flavor you enjoy as it will come through in the batter. It will resemble a thick pancake batter when assembled.
I prefer two types of fish for this recipe either cod or haddock. Both are tender, flaky white fish and their flavor really shine in this batter and is absolutely delectable with a touch of malt vinegar added at the table. Pollock and flounder are also good in this recipe.
My local chippie shop makes a delightful homemade tartar sauce with dill and serves the fish with a side of mushy peas. For the chips, they offer a side of beef gravy – if you have never had fries with gravy, don’t knock it til you try it! My mom always ate her chips this way and it’s great. My husband was a tough sell, but I’m happy to report — he’s now a gravy convert!
I’m not a fan of mushy peas they are an acquired taste, but I do like some creamy, briny tartar sauce with my fish every now and again.
This meal is one that takes me back to my childhood and of enjoying fresh fish every Friday.
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British Pub-Style Fried Fish
- 4 cod fillets (about 6 oz. each), or haddock, thick end
- 4 cups canola oil for frying
- ground black pepper to taste
- salt to taste
- cayenne pepper optional
- 2 cups all-purpose flour plus a little extra for lightly dusting the fish
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 12 oz pale ale or other light beer [See Note 1]
- water , as needed to thin batter
- 1/2 tsp salt , more or less to taste
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper , optional
- 1 lemon , cut into wedges
- malt vinegar
- tartar sauce
- mushy peas
- Fill a heavy-duty 6-quart pot about one-third full with oil. Using a candy or frying thermometer, heat the oil to 350 to 375 degrees F over medium-high heat.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cayenne, beer, and water, if needed. The batter should have the consistency of pancake batter.
- Pat the fish dry with paper towels and season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper (optional) to taste on both sides. lightly dust fish on both sides with flour making sure to lightly shake off any excess flour. This light coating helps the batter stick to the fish.
- One at a time, dip two of the fillets in the batter and turn to coat well. Allow excess batter to drip off. Gently add the fillets to the oil, placing the fish into the oil with the end your holding facing away from you so that any oil splashes will land behind the pot and not on you.
- Fry the fish until crisp, turning once with tongs or a slotted spoon about half-way through the cooking time, about 5 to 7 minutes total.
- Transfer the fillets to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain and then transfer to the baking sheet in a 225 degree F oven to keep warm. Let the oil return to 350 to 375 degrees F and repeat with the remaining fillets.
- Serving Suggestions: Serve the fish with chips, tartar sauce, lemon wedges, mushy peas, and malt vinegar.
- The pale ale may be replaced with a dark lager or omitted altogether and replaced with an equal amount of water or seltzer. It should be noted that replacing the beer with water or seltzer will significantly change the flavor of the fish fry batter.