Fish was often served Friday nights during my childhood. And when visiting grandparents at their summer lake house in Illinois, we'd catch our own fish or went to a nearby pub for their Friday night "fish fry."
We enjoyed perch, blue gills, crappie, and catfish in those days. Ice and smelt fishing were even more exciting. Family vacations also involved a fishing trip somewhere in several Midwestern states.
Since moving to Oregon in the '60s, trout, salmon, tilapia, red snapper, cod or haddock seem to be the most popular on menus or available in supermarkets. Most fish is less expensive than beef, so we eat it two or three times a week.
Battered fish, served with fries and coleslaw reminds me of those childhood Fish Fry days. My Mom used a beer batter or sometimes a club soda batter for her fish fry, while my gram used a flour and corn meal coating for hers.
I inherited both of their recipe boxes, so am seldom at a loss on how to prepare fish.
Beer Battered Fish Fry
1 cup flour
2 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
6 oz. of cold beer
2 Tabs. lemon juice
1 pound firm whitefish (tilapia, cod etc.), cut into 1-ounce strips or chunks
Cornstarch, for dredging
Oil for frying
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and Old Bay seasoning. Whisk in beer and lemon juice until batter is free of lumps. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.The batter can be made up to 1 hour ahead of time. If it seems too thick add a few more ounces of beer and blend into batter.
Heat oil to 375 degrees. Lightly dredge fish pieces in cornstarch. In small batches, dip fish into batter to coat, letting batter drip off for an even coating, then place into hot oil. When batter sets, turn pieces over and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove from oil and place on a rack in a warm oven.
Serve with malt vinegar, tarter sauce lemon wedges, french fries a salad or coleslaw. Serves 4-5.
Estimated cost: $6.00 or less; $1.50 or less per serving.