Deep-frying, when done properly, is a great way to cook seafood. It’s fast, cooking most foods in less than 5 minutes, it quickly seals the food’s surface, locking in flavour and moisture and it adds appealing crunch, colour and aroma. Sauces, such as tartare or mayonnaise, provide a delicious accompaniment, adding a contrasting moistness to the crisp fish. For chips, it’s hard to go past frozen French fries – they give such good, consistent results that even most chefs use them.
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
1.2kg Flathead fillets, skin off, bones removed
Plain flour, for coating
Lemon wedges, for serving
1 cup whole-egg mayonnaise (see notes)
¼ cup cornichons, finely chopped (see notes)
2 teaspoons capers in brine, rinsed, dried and finely chopped
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1½ cups plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
375ml cold beer
Make Tartare Sauce: combine all ingredients in a bowl; cover and refrigerate until needed.
Make Beer Batter: sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl, mixing well. Gradually whisk in beer until the batter reaches the consistency of thickened cream (you may not need to use all of it).
Heat oil in a wok or deep-fryer to 180°C.
Pat fillets dry with paper towel, dust lightly in flour and dip into Beer Batter. Drain off excess batter. Lower carefully into hot oil, in batches, and deep-fry for 3-5 minutes, until golden brown. Drain on paper towel.
Serve with Tartare Sauce and lemon wedges.
If you don’t want to make your own mayonnaise, use one made from whole eggs.
Cornichons, small pickled gherkins, are available from good delicatessens, use gherkins if they are unavailable.