Beer-battered fish and chips

The fish is fish but the chips aren’t fries, they’re chips!

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Read Time: 5 minutes
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It’s fish fry season! Or at least that’s what all the fast-food sandwich commercials during March Madness keep telling me. I’ve made fast-food-style fried fish sandwiches and written about them in the past, but the sandwiches I made this week are beer-battered instead of flour dredged and breadcrumb crusted. The crunch and texture are different than the sandwiches I wrote about last year.

I like this better than my 2021 versions of fish sandwiches. The crunch factor is instrumental in my enjoyment here and the spicy sauce brings it all together. This fish recipe is like what you’d see served at a neighborhood fish fry, only it’s incorporated into a sandwich.

Not only did I make a bunch of beer-battered spicy fish sandwiches this week, but I also fried some potato chips and added that recipe as well, with my new favorite Bounded by Buns seasoning blend #1 for fries or chips.

Keep reading to see what I did.

The buns

I always enjoy writing about my buns.

A small but loose crumb on a potato roll is exactly what you’re shooting for in this situation. Toast it if you want, but it’s wonderful and soft when untoasted as well.

Most of the fast food-style fish sandwiches are on a soft bun and this is no different. I’ve obviously posted about buns like this before. It’s not necessarily a beginner recipe because the dough does turn out a bit sticky, but if you spread some flour on the counter for dusting, you should be all good.

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Super soft potato buns

Need six super soft perfectly sized burger buns? The kind of bun that is slightly smaller than your burger patty so that you get a solid burger to bun ratio? Try this recipe.

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Spicy sandwich sauce

The sauce I use on these sandwiches is a good condiment to make and have available in the fridge for sandwiching or even dipping chicken tenders, French fries, or chips (chip recipe down below).

If you’re averse to spicy things, you can leave this sauce out. Just use mayonnaise instead or even better, a little bit of tartar sauce.

5 minutes
Spicy sandwich sauce

This spicy spread is perfect for adding a kick to your next sandwich. You can also use it for a flavorful dip for french fries or chips.

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Pickles

This is my favorite pickle recipe for snacking or sandwiching. I make a big batch at least every month or two. I’ve even converted the recipe to make pickled green beans, which makes for a fantastic happy hour snack.

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Spicy MSG pickles

Spicy and dilly and savory pickles are great as a snack or in a sandwich. A great addition to any refrigerator. I based this recipe off of this tweet from Joshua Weissman and added extra spice.

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The beer batter

The seasoned dry dredge and wet batter. These containers are basically about the size of one piece of fish, which works. But you might be better served with two pie plates or wider bowls.

For my fish batter, I used Dovetail Brewery’s Helles Lager, but you can use other beer options if you can’t find this one. If you’re choosing a beer, you would want to avoid extra hoppy or bitter styles. Pilsners, generically named lagers, or even amber ales are perfect for this style of batter, but if you’re avoiding alcohol altogether you can use something like club soda because the carbonation does play a factor in this recipe.

The battering part of this recipe consists of two stages. A seasoned flour bowl/plate and a bowl or plate with a spicy flour batter (basically a thick pancake batter). You coat the fish in seasoned flour, then dredge it in the wet batter, making sure there are no dry unbattered parts. Then the messy part is to put the battered fish back into the flour for a quick dry coat and immediately into the hot oil.

Your fingers will be coated in batter at this point, but that’s why they invented soap and water.

Spicy fish sandwich recipe

The fish I used in most of the sandwiches was tilapia. I was looking for flounder, but in Chicago, you often just have an option of cod or tilapia at your corner grocery. I’ll admit that tilapia was super affordable in this 5-dollar gallon gas era, but you can make these same sandwiches with pretty much any white fish. Choose cod or flounder or even halibut if you want. Just make sure the fish you buy isn’t super thick, because it will get thicker with fried batter.

Two fish filets frying. The fish I used for most of these sandwiches was tilapia. But you could use another white fish like flounder or cod.
The batter and dry dredge make for a super craggy and crunchy coating on the fish.
Craggy
Crunchy

Here’s my beer-battered fish sandwich, the crunch on this sandwich is great. It’s crispy, crunchy but still not heavy enough to overwhelm the light texture of the fish.

Beer battered spicy fish sandwich view printable page for this recipe

Crispy fried fish sandwich with hints of spice and pickle flavor. This is a super tasty fish sandwich that can be battered up and fried in half an hour or so.

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by Jonathan Surratt

Ingredients:

Fish and flour dredge
  • 2 six-to-eight ounce sandwich sized portions of white fish (flounder, tilapia or cod work well)
  • 12 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
  • 12 teaspoon black pepper
Crispy batter
  • 12 cup all-purpose flour
  • 14 cup corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 12 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
  • 12 teaspoon paprika
  • 12 teaspoon salt
  • 12 teaspoon black pepper
  • 34 cup lager beer (5 to 6 ounces - not a hoppy or bitter beer)
  • peanut, canola or vegetable oil (enough oil to come up 3 inches high in a medium pan or pot)
Sandwich assembly

Directions:

Portion the fish filets. This is going to be a beer-battered fish sandwich, so if your fish portions are a little smaller than the size of your bun, it should be just fine because the batter adds extra size to the filet. 

Grab two bowls or two pie plates to serve as your dredging/batter station. The size of your bowl needs to be big enough for at least one of your fish filets to lay down flat in it. 

Flour dredge: add the all-purpose flour, salt, cayenne pepper powder, and black pepper to one of the bowls. This is your dry flour dredge. 

Crispy batter: make the batter by combining all-purpose flour, corn starch, baking soda, cayenne, paprika, salt, black pepper, and beer to the second bowl. Stir very well to incorporate. You will have to stir this a bit to get all the flour and liquid to become fully integrated into a thick pancake batter. 

In a medium Dutch oven or pan add peanut or other frying oil until it is 2 or 3 inches deep in the pot/pan.

Heat the oil until it is 350 degrees F (176 C).

Add fish and fully coat each piece in the flour dredge.

Add floured fish to the bowl with the batter. Ensure there are no dry spots.

Then after the fish is coated fully in the wet batter, quickly lay it into the dry flour dredge and coat each piece fully.

Move each piece of fish carefully from the flour to the oil. Lay it in the oil away from you so that it does not splash onto you.

Fry fish for around 8 minutes, flipping the fish a few times to make sure it gets fully golden brown on both sides.

Once it is golden brown and cooked, move each fried filet to a paper towel-lined plate and immediately sprinkle salt on both pieces to season. 

Let fish rest for a couple of minutes at least. It will be hot. You can use this opportunity to toast your buns if you desire. 

Making the sandwich: add a tablespoon or so of sauce to the bottom bun. 

Top the sauce with 3 to 4 pickle slices if desired. If you want a spicier sandwich, you can use pickled jalapenos. 

Add a battered fish filet on top and add more sauce to the top bun. Sandwich the sandwich with the top bun. 

Serve sandwiches and enjoy. 

Here are some other spicy fish sandwiches I made this week.

Beer-battered fish and chips with a spicy dipping sauce and a Dovetail Helles.
You can almost hear the crunch in this photo.
Sauce on the bottom and sauce on the top makes this sandwich very happy.

Some of these I ate with pickles and some with pickled jalapeno peppers for an extra spicy version. This is my pickle recipe but instead it’s jalapeno peppers which are great on tacos or nachos, and they really sing in this spicy fish sandwich.

25 minutes
Pickled MSG jalapenos

Need a spicy kick with a bit of crunchy texture in your next sandwich? They're also perfect to spice up your next nacho or taco night.

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Check out this big boy. I used my last full filet here. For most of the other sandwiches, I cut the filet down to a more reasonable bun size. It’s not easy to tell at a glance, but this one has pickled jalapenos instead of regular pickles and it’s a great option for a bit of extra heat.
Spicy fish sandwich cross-section being supervised by Lily.
She’s a beauty!
Fish and chips! This one also got pickled jalapenos and spicy sauce.

The crispy potato chips

Slice these bad boys thin so that they’ll fry and crisp up better
You want to rinse all the starch off the outside of the slices and then dry them as best as you can.

If you’re making chips, I suggest using a mandoline and also buying a no-cut glove so that you don’t end up at the emergency room for surprise stitches. If you cut yourself with a mandoline, please don’t say I didn’t warn you! No one wants surprise stitches.

It’s not easy to capture a photo of frying chips because they go from very off-white to tan and fully fried in just a matter of seconds.
I season immediately after the chips come out of the oil, and then I transfer them to a bowl and season again. The bowl allows you to toss the chips to spread around the seasoning love.

Since the title of this post is working on the pun of “fish and chips,” I’m sharing my potato chip recipe. It’s a good one and a freebie recipe that I’m throwing in on this already free blog post. Subscribe down below if you haven’t!

If you’re making fish (or fried chicken) sandwiches and chips for the same meal, fry your chips BEFORE you fry the fish because plain potato chips leave very little residue in the frying oil. Also, a room temperature chip is way better than a room temperature fish sandwich.

When I fry these chips, I typically fry more than we can eat in one meal and they’re great zipped up or packaged in a sealed container on the counter or pantry for a few days. They shouldn’t survive uneaten much longer than a day or two. Or at least they don’t in my house.

1 hour and 5 minutes
Crispy seasoned potato chips

Crispy fried chips seasoned with Bounded by Buns seasoning blend #1. These are crispy, flavorful and great on the side of your next sandwich.

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Next week

Get ready for next week. I might be writing about one of my friends named Patty. You might want to come back and read about Patty.


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