Monday, August 31, 2009

Beer-Battered Seafood

Beer-battered seafood.

We've been pushing Wey's nose into revision papers to get him ready for his upcoming PMR exams in October. I know we aren't the only ones getting jitters because the friends I've talked to whose kids are doing PMR this year are all sitting at home this long weekend (today being Malaysia's Independence Day) tearing their hair out teaching their kids Science and Math, the only two subjects taught in English.

To chill out, Wey and I conducted some culinary experiments this afternoon. We wanted to find out if beer really made better batters. I've always doubted that beer would make any difference to batters, and that beer batters were created by beer lovers who had to have beer in everything.

The first thing to test was whether plain flour or self-raising flour would be better for batters. I wanted a batter that gave a light coating with body, so I used 50-50 plain flour to SR flour ratio. The 50-50 SR flour to plain flour batter made a lighter and crispier ball of batter than the plain flour batter which was heavy and spongy, so whole plain flour was out.

On the left, a ball of fried batter made from 50% self-raising flour and 50% plain flour. On the right, fried batter made from all-plain flour. The plain flour batter gave a spongy, chewy , thick-skin ball while the batter with the self-raising flour was crispy and thin.

We then proceeded to test if batters with beer and without beer were any different. When the beer-battered prawn turned out puffed and crispier than the no-beer battered prawn, I was ecstatic, shouting, "Beer is best! Beer is best!"

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The fritter on the left was made without beer while the one on the right (and I made sure the prawns inside were the same size) was made with a beer batter. Notice that the beer batter coating not only puffed more, but was also smoother.

Finally, we tested beer batter with a stiffly-whisked egg white and one without. The result was as expected: the beer batter with the egg white was very puffed and very light. In fact, the batter was so light that it was hard to turn the seafood when frying because the lighter, unfried side would always turn upwards, like a fat bloated man who can't sink. The beer batter without the egg white, although not as puffed, was very good too. After all the photos were taken, the fritters without egg white stayed crispy while those with egg white had gone soft-crisp.

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The no-egg white batter on left, the egg white batter on right. With the addition of a stiffly whisked egg white, the batter was lighter, in color and body, just like a sponge-cake batter.

The conclusion: I'll stay with beer batter without stiff egg white, especially for big pieces of seafood like fish. Prawns and calamari rings can go with the more delicate beer and egg white batter but personally, I wouldn't bother to whisk an egg white.

As I write this, I suddenly realized that my tests were not complete. To start off with, I had eliminated plain flour without adding beer to it. What if plain flour + beer made a batter that gave a crispy, stronger coating? Oh dear. But you know me, there'll be a next time.

And I forgot to tell you, the beer flavor was super.

Beer-Battered Seafood

About 1 kg white fish fillets, prawns, squid rings, oysters etc.
Beer Batter:
1/2 can beer (Carlsberg, Heineken)
6 T plain flour
6 T self raising flour
1/3 t salt
1 egg yolk
1 egg white (optional--I prefer not)

1. Sieve the flours together in a bowl, add the salt, yolk and the beer and stir with a fork until smooth, but do not stir too much. Add a little more beer if the batter is too thick, more flours if too thin. Leave batter for 10 minutes, covered with cling film.

2. Put 1/2 cup plain flour in a small dish, add 1/2 t salt and some white pepper, mix well, then coat the seafood with the mixture.

3. Heat up enough oil to deep-fry.

4. Whisk the egg white if using (like I said, I prefer not) and fold it into the batter.

5. Dip the seafood into the batter, let some of the batter drip off, then carefully slip the seafood into the hot oil. Do not fry too many pieces at one time. The temperature of the oil is very important. If it's too hot, the batter will brown too quickly, the seafood will not be cooked inside and the coating will not stay crispy for long. However, if the oil is too cold, the batter will be heavy with oil. You just have to know the right temperature and time by lots of frying experience.

6. Lift the seafood out onto kitchen paper to drain and serve immediately.


red | hongyi said...

I loved this post! You should do more experimental posts, it's fun and easy to read, and very informative too!

I've got a dozen bottles of beer in the fridge, leftovers from my last house party. Now you've given me an idea what to do with them. btw, I attempted ice-cream mochi, did I tell you? I failed miserably. You go and try to make some, see if you can get the ice cream to not melt and soak up the whole ball!

I miss you. And my forehead is super speckled. and i dont like studying at weird hours :(

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

This is most helpful. Now I know beer IS best! Thank you!

Unknown said...

Hi Terri, at last I could post! How? I'm sick now and on MC :( but I could post a comment ! :D

Anyway, good post. I always liked experimental post but wouldn't blog about it myself as it took lots of trouble doing it... the photos, the write ups...

One thing that I could contribute though to your batter and the answer is Soda of Bicarbonate. IT sorta gave the crispy touch to the fried batter. Those selling goreng pisang would use plastic straws but I deemed soda of bicarb would do the trick ;)

TeaLady said...

Hi, Terri. What a creative experiment. I love using beer in batter. It is almost like a tempura batter. Much better than a flour/water batter.

Thanks for coming by. It's been a while. The book was very entertaining. Got if from Amazon.

Tell your son good luck.

ShenV said...

Terri, my mom's simple recipe for prawn fritters batter is just plain flour or SR flour, butter rubbed in, cold water added till mixed to consistency that you like, dip in prawn and fry away. This is simple and keeps crispy till supper time. Maybe you can experiment this to make it better?
Like your testing, just like Ferran.

Precious Pea said...

I remember now that my bro-in-law also use beer in his batter to make deep fried oysters! Great post Terri!

GFAD said...

Hi Terry. My, you are thorough! :D

I'm hopeless at frying as my fried stuff soak up too much oil. So I leave deep frying to the experts.. restaurants!

I just tried your century egg tofu cold dish. It's marvellous! Only thing I want to ask you - how do you dress the tofu without it getting smashed? Or do you just drizzle the oil and sauce on top and that's it?

Big Boys Oven said...

I just adore using beer batter, taste better, more flavour! heheheh am ! an alcoholic too?

terri@adailyobsession said...

yi: thnx honey. ice cream mochi in this weather? no way.

take care of ur forehead urself. i'm sick of doing it for u. i told u 1) don't wear any foundation 2) sleep early (whenever you can, instead of working for tt abusive guy) 3)clear n clear tt blackheads once a week.

lilteochew: yes, n u can drink the leftover beer while cooking. yum.

johnathan: oh dear, hope it's not swine flu? but then again its good to get the immunity.yes, i believe the pisang goreng sellers add plastic straws n so on bc their fritters stay crisp forever. food viagra.

tealady: yes, beer batters are yum. my son needs A LOT of luck n i need a lot of self-control n patience with him. i didn't know when i got kids tt i have to go thru school all over again, and again, and again with each kid.

sheV: i am interested in ur mom's batter. if u rub in butter, wouldn't the flour become crumbly? or is it melted butter ur mom used? can u give more details pls? er..who is ferran?

pp: oh, battered oysters---i love! so tender, sweet and juicy..lucky u. i don;t eat much local oysters bc i get the runs every time.

GDAF: yes yes, just cut the tofu carefully and put it into a dish/plate, drain away any water, scatter the egg over and drizzle with the sauces.

bbo: no, u r eating it not drinking plus u can't get drunk on beer food can you. i wonder if food cooked with beer or alcohol is halal?

My Food Adventure said...

Hi Aunty,

Besides Dory Fish, what fish do you recommend for deep frying?

ShanV said...

Terri, the cold butter is just cut up and rubbed into the flour with fingers. Gradually add cold water to the consistency that you like to batter your prawns.Good for parties cos it gives that lovely crunchhhhhh!

Terri, have you tried dry fry prawns with only oyster sauce, till slightly browned. Then garnish with crunchy garlic,spring onions and chillies for presentation. This is another no fuss dish and tastes very good. Hope you'll try it.

Emily.t said...

Hi Terri,
Thanks so much for this post!!
Wat i did was just add same amount of corn flour + SR flour, then add beer, stir until become batter. Season with a little salt and pepper. Dip the squid rings in the batter and fry!! It came out nice and crispy. Dad loved it! I forgot about the yolk...i wonder if it'll make a big difference...will try for nxt time! Thx Terri!! :)

Vinta said...

I've tried your recipe and taste so delicious. Crispy outside and juicy inside. Thank you for sharing the recipe, it's the one I've been looking for.

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