I have decided to postpone the recipe which I had planned for today. Instead, I am making “English-Style Beer Batter Cod” in honor of the life and legacy of the late Queen Elizabeth II. Beer battered cod is a far cry from the cornmeal-style breaded catfish which is so common in Louisiana across the Atlantic ocean from England. But battered and fried cod is delicious! All the attention on the Queen and royal family brings back memories of a trip for a few weeks to the British Isles which I made when I was in college. The trip was not about food; but I have never forgotten the wonderful fish and chips, wrapped in a newspaper, which we purchased from a street vendor in London. The fried cod was truly a “melt in your mouth” fish. The chips (French fries) were thick and tasty. Best of all, the fish and chips were served with malt vinegar. I loved it! So, I am recreating the fried cod recipe for my blog post today. And surprise, beer battered cod is actually extremely easy to make! Just pay attention to the details. Plus, I have a few fairy tale-like photos of Queen Elizabeth II and a royal procession taken in 2004 during my son’s scout trip to London to share at the end of this post.
With the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II, our attention has focused on the legacy of this extraordinary person as portrayed by the media. From across the ocean, I have to admit that I watch with a bit of curiosity and fascination. But, I love history and am trying to take it all in. Don Lemon of CNN said it best when he stated, “Queen Elizabeth II led a long and prosperous life of service.” The respect and tribute of the citizens of Great Britain says it all.
How many people can say that they saw Queen Elizabeth II in person? This experience must be a once-in-a-life-time fairy tale. While sightseeing in London in 2004, my son and his scout troop quite unexpectedly came upon the queen and the royal family in a horse-led procession of ornate carriages The queen had just addressed parliament and they were heading back to Buckingham Palace. My son, who was about 13-years-old, doesn’t remember much of the encounter. Except he remembers her wave. By a total stroke of coincidence, I found several incredible photos of the procession while searching for something else on my computer this week. Now, what was it? I have posted the photos of the queen’s procession at the end of this post.
English-Style Beer Batter Cod
Back to “Beer Batter Cod.” Cod is not a variety of fish which you find in Louisiana. Cod is found in the colder waters in the northern hemisphere — both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Cod has a mild flavor. It is a dense white fish with a low fat content (in other words, cod is very healthy). When cooked, cod is moist and flaky. If cod is not available, some substitutes are haddock, tilapia, pollock, striped bass, flounder, sole and orange roughy. Since cod is so mild, it makes a great “starter” fish to try if you are hesitant about eating fish.
Although cod is not a Gulf of Mexico fish, it is common in New England. When we visited my daughter in Boston this past May, we decided to “eat in” rather than frequent yet another restaurant. We went to a Wegman’s supermarket and purchased food for an elaborate supper. After surveying the selection of available fresh fish, we settled on fresh cod (probably previously frozen) as our local “catch of the day.” We prepared the cod by dipping it in a tempura-like batter and frying it in a skillet. (Hum, we forgot to pick up oil for deep frying the cod.) The cod was delicious and it had that same “melt in your mouth” quality which I remember from my London visit. So, I went out of my way to locate cod in Baton Rouge and am creating the dish again.
My recipe for “English-Style Beer Batter Cod” uses the same basic recipe as most “authentic” English-style fish recipes plus I added a few of my own touches. The recipe is easy; it contains only three ingredients plus oil. I used self-rising flour in the batter rather than all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Self-rising flour works every time for me; I find that I am using it in more and more recipes! I couldn’t help but add a bit of Creole seasoning to the batter for a southern flair. I used a pale ale — Heineken malt lager brand, for no particular reason. This beer is 5% alcohol, it is light and works well in this recipe.
The batter needs fizzle and bubble, so don’t skip the beer. And keep the beer cold, cold. Plan to use the batter immediately after mixing. Here are the ingredients. This batter differs slightly from tempura batter — tempura contains eggs and perhaps rice flour, my cod batter does not include these ingredients.
I used frozen cod steaks and defrosted them in the refrigerator the prior day. Purchasing fresh cod at a fish counter in a grocery store in Louisiana, in my opinion, just isn’t the best idea. The fish had to be transported a long distance to get here and was probably frozen at some point. If you can’t get extremely fresh fish which has recently been caught, I always opt for the frozen form. After the fish is defrosted, rinse, cut into small similar sized pieces. Pat the fish dry.
The fish pieces need to be fried as soon as they are battered while the batter is still bubbly. So, than means getting the oil pre-heated to 350 – 360 degrees prior to mixing up the batter. (Mixing the batter takes only a minute or so). I use my heavy cast iron skillet for the deep frying. It holds the heat well and I only have to make minor adjustments on my stove to keep the temperature at 350 degrees. I filled the skillet with about 1″ of oil and used an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature of the oil.
My favorite thermometer is a Weber brand instant-read thermometer which is marketed by the BBQ grill folks. I also use this thermometer when cooking in my smoker. Simply place the thermometer tip in the oil. It will read the temperature of the oil in just a few seconds.
This recipe uses a seasoned flour coating then seasoned batter. Toss the cod pieces in seasoned flour first. Next dip in the beer batter and shake off excess batter. Adjust the consistency of the batter to keep it just slightly thinner than pancake batter by adding a tablespoon of additional flour if needed or just a bit more beer. You may not use the entire bottle of beer — but I bet you can figure out what to do with the remining beer!
I fried four of these small pieces at a time so that the temperature of the deep fat fryer stayed constant at 350 degrees. These small pieces fried in five minutes and I turned them over half way through the cooking time. Remove the fish and drain. Repeat with the remaining four pieces of cod. Serve immediately.
Don’t forget to pass the malt vinegar. No malt vinegar? I substituted apple cider vinegar, which technically is different but can be used in a pinch.
My fried cod turned out pretty well — and on the first batch. I am proud of myself. This “English-Style Beer Batter Cod” is just like I remember from my visit to London. The breading is light and crunchy. The batter easily adhered to the firm pieces of cod. The cod, being a mild flavored fish, worked well with the lite batter with just a touch of Creole seasoning.
And it is attention to detail which makes for the success of this recipe. Follow along with my recipe tips for good results. Yes, all the tips. This recipe is a fitting tribute to “everything English” this week.
Typically, English beer battered cod is served with chips (French fries). However, there are plenty of recipes on the internet for English-style chips and I really can’t improve on these renditions. I served my cod with Louisiana-style roasted sweet potato. Just because!
English-Style Beer Batter Cod
- 1 lb frozen cod steaks/filets (may increase to 1-1/2 lb if desired)*
- 1 cup self-rising flour divided, more as needed
- 1/2 tsp Creole style seasoning (such as Tony Chachere’s)
- 5 – 6 oz pale ale, such as Heineken Premium Malt Lager Beer, plus a little more beer if needed
- malt vinegar or unfiltered apple cider vinegar, for serving
Method and Steps:
- Defrost frozen cod steaks/filets in refrigerator.
- When ready to fry, cut cod into 8 pieces, approximately the same size. Rinse and drain cod. Pat dry with a paper towel. Set aside.
- Heat about 1″ oil in depth in a heavy cast iron skillet. Use a thermometer and adjust temperature of stove to keep oil at 350 to 360 degrees.
- Meanwhile, add Creole seasoning to self-rising oil in a small bowl and stir to combine. Remove about 1/4 cup of the seasoned flour and place on a shallow plate. Set aside.
- Add 5/8 cup cold beer (about 5 oz beer) to the flour which is remining in the small bowl. Stir to combine. The batter should be slightly thinner than pancake batter. Add more beer, one tablespoon at a time, to thin batter if needed. Or if the batter is too thin, add small amounts of self-rising flour (1 Tbsp at a time) to thicken batter. Plan to use batter immediately.
- Dredge one cod piece at a time in the flour coating and then dip in the batter. Let excess batter drip off. Place cod in hot oil. Quickly continue to coat three more pieces with flour coating and then dip in the batter to fry four pieces at a time. Adjust temperature of the oil if it drops below 350 degrees.
- Fry on about three minutes on the first side; flip over and fry two additional minutes on the second side — frying about 5 minutes total. Remove cod and drain on paper towels.
- Fry the remaining cod pieces in the same manner.
- Serve deep fried cod while still hot, passing vinegar for dousing the cod.
*NOTE: There is enough batter to fry approximately 1-1/2 pounds of cod. In this case, additional seasoned flour coating may be needed. Mix in about 1/8 tsp Creole seasoning with 1/4 cup self-rising flour.
Although my son complains “oh, mom — not again”, I think this is a good time to share these unique photos of Queen Elizabeth II and her royal procession.
My son’s scout troop happened to be visiting in London and decided to stop at Buckingham Palace on this particular day. The year was 2004 and this trip had been in the planning for several years. The scouts noticed that the street was lined with flags and asked what was happening. They were told that the queen had just addressed parliament and would be returning to Buckingham Palace along this route.
The scouts were positioned across the street from the Royal Guard’s marching unit.
Looking closer, I even see the Royal Guard’s mascot, an Irish Wolfhound, in the photo. It is wearing a matching cloak. How adorable!
According to Wikipedia, “The King’s Guard and King’s Life Guard (called the Queen’s Guard and the Queen’s Life Guard when the reigning monarch is female) are the contingents of infantry and cavalry soldiers charged with guarding the official royal residences in the United Kingdom. The King’s Guard are infantry contingents, while the King’s Life Guards are cavalry troopers. The guards are typically mounted by the regiments of the British Army’s Household Division.(wikipedia.org/wiki/King%27s_Guard) Both the infantry and cavalry guards were on duty this day.
We had purchased my son’s first point and shoot digital camera for the trip. Although he took lots of photos, the quality of the photos posted here are just too excellent for such a digital camera. We think that members of the Chapel family took these pictures. Thanks to the Chapel’s.
Here the procession is approaching.
There were several horse-drawn carriages, I can only guess that other members of the royal family were along in the procession, too.
Looks like there might be several scepters or other golden-type instruments hanging out of the doors of this carriage. Watch out!
Then came several more mounted guards. All the pageantry; it has such a medieval and mystical quality.
Lastly came Queen Elizabeth II in a gold-gilded carriage.
So quickly she passed by.
Her carriage was harnessed with white horses.
Then the queen returned to Buckingham Palace.
And so Queen Elizabeth II returned to Buckingham Palace one last time this week. At age 92-years, she led an extraordinary life. We give the deepest regards to her family.