Anyone who has tried to fry fish knows that getting the batter to stick can be challenging. Let me tell you, I’ve had my fair share of failed attempts at getting the batter to stick to fry fish. But it doesn’t have to be!
You can make your batter stick to the fish like glue and get perfectly crispy fried fish every time. Some tricks include drying off the fish, using wet batter, and ensuring the oil is hot enough.
Read on for all the secrets of making the batter stick for perfect fried fish.
Why Won’t My Batter Stick to My Fish?
There could be several reasons your batter isn’t sticking to your fish. One common reason is that the fish isn’t dry enough before coating it in flour or batter.
Another reason could be that the oil isn’t hot enough, causing the batter to slide off. Or, if you’re using a wet batter like beer-battered, it could be too thin and not have enough body.
Prepping the Fish
The most crucial part of achieving great fried fish is prepping the fish itself before you even think about putting the batter on it.
Allow the fish to come to room temperature before dipping them in your batter concoction. This ensures that the batter will stick better.
Dry Off Your Fish
First, make sure your fish is as dry as possible. If there’s any moisture on the surface of your fish, pat it down with a paper towel and let it sit for a few minutes so that all excess water evaporates off it.
Salt and Pepper
Next, add some salt and pepper directly onto your fillet or cutlet of choice – this will help draw out some more moisture and give your fried dish an extra flavor. Once that’s done, you can move on to the actual battering and frying process!
Choose the Right Batter
Beer or Tempura Batter
A light beer or tempura batter will work best because they are thin enough that they won’t overpower the flavor of the fish while still providing a nice crunchy coating when cooked.
Additionally, if you plan on using beer or seltzer as an ingredient in your batter, use flat beer or soda instead of freshly opened cans. This also helps ensure your batter won’t clump up while it cooks.
Use Wet Batter
The first step is to use a wet batter. Mix some beer or seltzer water into your batter until it reaches a thick yet pourable consistency.
Avoid Thick Batter
Avoid thick batters like pancake mix or Bisquick, as they are too heavy and will not adhere properly.
Use Starch and Eggs
When making your batter mix from scratch, always use cornstarch or potato starch in conjunction with either flour or beer (or both!). This combination helps create a light yet crispy coating that won’t fall off when you flip your fish in the oil.
Eggs provide sticky consistency to the mix, so add some beaten egg to your batter.
Prepare Your Ingredients Carefully
For example, eggs should be at room temperature before being added to the mix; cold eggs can cause clumping and can prevent the other ingredients from sticking together properly.
Coat with Plenty of Flour
For an even crispier finish, you can dip your floured fish into the batter a second time before frying.
Pay Attention to the Oil
Choose the Right Oil
Generally speaking, vegetable oils such as canola and sunflower are best for frying fish.
They have high smoke points and don’t have a strong flavor that could overpower the taste of the fish itself. These oils are also relatively inexpensive, making them great for budget-conscious cooks.
Heat the Oil
When frying your battered fish, ensure you heat your oil before adding it in, so it starts cooking immediately upon contact with the hot oil. Otherwise, you’ll end up with soggy and greasy results instead!
Make Sure the Oil is Hot Enough
The ideal temperature for frying is 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190°C). This ensures that adding the food to the oil will cook quickly and evenly without burning too fast or becoming soggy from sitting in too much oil for too long.
Furthermore, the temperature range is ideal for ensuring your batter stays securely affixed to the fish fillets as they cook.
But if you don’t have an accurate thermometer, you can test it by dropping a flour pinch into the oil. If it sizzles immediately, then it’s hot enough!
Don’t Overheat the Oil
Just be sure not to overheat the oil, as this can cause dangerous flare-ups and make your food greasy instead of crispy.
Frying the Fish
One by One
Finally, place each piece of fish individually in the hot oil rather than dumping them all in at once. This will ensure that each piece is evenly coated with the batter and cooks evenly on both sides.
Additionally, be sure not to overcrowd your pan so that each piece has room to fry freely without sticking to one another.
This means you should only fry a few pieces at once to ensure that each piece gets enough time and coverage in the hot oil.
Use Tongs or a Slotted Spoon
Gently lower each piece of battered fish into the hot oil using tongs or a slotted spoon – don’t drop them in too quickly, as this could cause them to lose their coating in transit!
Don’t Flip Too Much
Avoid the urge to turn your fried fish excessively in hot oil– doing this can strip off the batter and cause it to lose its crispy crust.
Allow to Drain Properly
Make sure to let the fish drain on a plate lined with paper towels after frying so that any excess oil can be absorbed and the fried fish will remain crispier.
What ingredients can I use to make my batter stick better?
Cornstarch and egg are ingredients that can help make your batter stick better. Cornstarch is a weak glue when heated wet, while egg provides a sticky consistency. You can also try adding baking powder or lemon juice to your batter for extra crispiness.
Should I double-coat my fish for better batter adhesion?
Yes. To do this correctly, throw your fish into some flour and then immerse it in a delicious batter. Lastly, give it one more dip in flour to ensure maximum stickiness!
This additional coating layer will safeguard against any pieces of batter being dropped off while frying for delicious results every time!
Should I let my battered fish sit before frying it?
Yes. Letting your battered fish sit for a few minutes before frying can help the batter stick better and prevent it from falling off during cooking.
After coating your fish in batter, let it rest on a wire rack for 5–10 minutes before frying.