Sometimes life takes you on a bumpy ride. Not serious stuff, but enough to make you need a hug at the end of the day. Like breaking down on the highway in mid morning traffic. Or getting a massive bill for unforseen medical costs. Or finding out your fridge has stopped working, and the warranty has expired a week ago.
In times like these, I like to escape to my “happy place”: a sunny, windless day somewhere on the Garden Route coastline, enjoying a simple, fresh seafood lunch with my darling husband, sipping lots of crisp cold chenin blanc, drinking in the smell of the waves, the sound of seagulls in the background. A place where time has no importance.
That simple seafood meal has to be proper beer battered hake, deep-fried to perfection, served with salt flakes, fresh lemon wedges and proper mayonnaise. I prefer my beer batter to be really thick and REALLY crisp – I mean, it should crack open when you cut it, steaming with fresh white hake within. Oh, and some crisp fries wouldn’t hurt.
So if you need to go to your happy place one of these days, you can do it at home. With this very easy recipe, fool-proof, every time. Have a nice day everyone!
Ingredients for the batter:
- 1 cup self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1/2 a bottle of beer (about 165 ml)
- salt and pepper for seasoning
For the fish:
- 4-6 medium-sized fresh fish fillets (I used hake), scaled, cleaned and deboned by your fish monger (cut thicker portions in half to make sure it cooks evenly)
- 500-750 ml cooking oil, for frying
- Heat oil (about 3-4 cm deep) in a heavy based pot on medium heat until it reaches around 160 degrees Celsius on your thermometer (for electrical stove top heating, use heat setting 4 out of 6)
- To make the batter, mix the self-raising flour with the beer and season with salt and pepper.
- Take one piece of hake fillet at a time, dust lightly with self-raising flour, then dip thoroughly in batter and immediately into the heated oil. Work carefully with the oil as it will splatter. After about 2 minutes, turn the fish with a slotted spoon and fry on the other side untill golden and crispy (takes about a minute). Remove from oil and drain on kitchen paper.
- Serve with mayonnaise.
Ingredients for mayonnaise:
- 1 whole free range egg, as fresh as you can get
- 1 T lemon juice
- 1 T Dijon mustard
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) sunflower oil
- In a cup, using a handheld stick blender, blend the egg, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper.
- Now add the oil in a very thin stream, while blending continuously. When all the oil is blended into the mixture, you will have a thick, pale mayonnaise. It will keep well in the refrigerator for about a week, covered.
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