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Batter-Dipped Fish or Chicken


Batter-dipped or breaded anything is a challenge for Planter kitchen, which is shooting for a one-size-fits-all batter for fish, chicken, and vegetables. Be sure to read the Joy of Cooking tips on tempura batters below.

Batter usually has only an egg and liquid coating and is deep fried.  Breading adds an additional coat of bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, or crumbled corn flakes to make a crunchier coating and can be easily baked (for those like this cook who are on a low-cholesterol diet). 

Whether it's Parade or Gourmet Magazine, ingredients for batters and breading are pretty standard: flour, egg, more flour, crumbs. This cook chose beer batter for its flavor and consistency. For an alternative, try Paul Prudhomme's approach for fried catfish and combine 1/2 cup each cornmeal, corn flour, and flour and blend in some Creole Seasoning for the batter mix.  

One recipe for Shrimp Po' Boys tosses cooked, peeled, and deveined shrimp with olive oil, rolls them in bread crumbs, salt, and pepper, and broils them in a single layer on a baking sheet for 4 minutes.   

Baking or frying with a minimum of olive oil instead of deep-frying has become almost respectable, now that plaque has become public enemy #1. Family Circle, Eat What You Love & Lose uses a yogurt-based marinade for the chicken and corn bread stuffing for the coating. Thin wedges of potatoes and sweet potatoes are dipped into whipped egg whites and corn bread stuffing and baked along with the chicken. Cooking Light uses a flour-cornflake breading for halibut fillets and fries each in a pan for 4 minutes on each side.

An author (unknown) of  recipes for fried chicken from the Washington Post, 1/4/95,  holds this principle sacred in both batter dipping and breading:   lightly dust with flour before dipping in egg.  If this important step is missed, he/she says, the breaded coating or the batter crust will roll or peel off.   He also prefers soaking chicken in buttermilk or some other liquid  before dipping in flour and egg.

Some general rules of thumb from Joy of Cooking to make fritter or tempura batters: 

* Resting the batter for a couple hours in the refrigerator breaks down gluten before it becomes too elastic for the coating mixture to adhere.  Then it really won't stick!   Using fewer strokes when mixing also helps.
* Food and cooking surfaces, of whatever you're coating, should be dry to allow batter to adhere.
* Egg whites should be beaten at the last minute before cooking, or coating becomes soggy.
*  A general rule of thumb for baking batter-dipped fish seems to be 10-12 minutes in a "very hot oven," or till fish flakes. (The editor is still trying to figure out how to know when fish flakes without destroying the integrity of the batter coating.)

This recipes fits, at least temporarily. We settle for beer batter mixed with herbs and spices.

Serve with one of our Dipping Sauces or with Mom's Dipping Sauces.

For batter:

1 egg, beaten
1/2 cp beer
1/2 cp flour
2-3 T Tabasco sauce
pinch of salt

1. Sift flour and salt in a bowl.
2. Stir in beaten egg, then gradually mix in beer and flour.
3. Set aside at room temp for an hour.
4. Dip and fry or bake according to instructions below.

For  breading:

1 cp flour
1-2 cp breaded corn flakes or bread crumbs
2 T spice or herb mix (this cook's favorites are sage, thyme, sage, garlic poweder and black, white, and red pepper)

1.Place batter and breading mixture on separate plates.
2. Dredge first in batter then in breading mixture.
3. Bake according to instructions below.

For baking chicken or fish pieces: 

Preheat oven to 425.

Place dredged pieces on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and bake fish for about 5 minutes
on each side and chicken for about 10 minutes on each side, till browned and cooked.
For frying fish or chicken pieces:

If you want to serve fish and chips, try haddock, cod, catfish, or halibut fillets.  Cut the fillets
into 1" wide stripsand dredge in batter and breading.  Coat a frying pan with 2-3 T olive oil and fry on
 each side for 4-5 minutes.  Chicken fingers can be prepared similarly, after
pounding till about 1/3" thick. Olive oil tends to burn quicker, so use a moderate heat to avoid
burning. Fish should be ready if it flakes easily. 
Drain on paper towels then place on large cookie sheet with brown paper and keep warm in 250  oven.