Chip shop battered fish is an absolute classic and as far as British food goes it has to be a national treasure. I therefore thought this would be the perfect recipe to celebrate St George’s Day this weekend; it really doesn’t get more British than fish and chips. I grew up in a seaside town so for me the smell of fish, chips and vinegar is the very essence of home. I was determined to make a Paleo battered cod so that I could continue to enjoy it but without the negative health benefits that come hand in hand with the traditional version.
This recipe does not disappoint. It creates a delicious, crispy batter that coats a soft and fluffy cod fillet that just melts in your mouth. The batter mixture is very simple using just tapioca flour, coconut flour, sparkling water and a touch of bicarbonate of soda. It mixes together really easily and doesn’t need any resting time. The batter is very light (think tempura batter rather than the thicker version) and coats the fish beautifully without being too heavy or overbearing. If you do prefer a slightly heavier batter then you can add an egg to your mixture. The fish remains the star of the show and the batter compliments it perfectly. No greasy and soggy batter here.
Cooking in lard…
The biggest issue with eating battered fish tends to be the oil that it is cooked in. Very few places use lard or dripping as their cooking fat of choice (although some still do) and most use vegetable oils that are high in Omega-6. If you are not familiar with the health issues that can be caused by using non-Paleo friendly cooking oils then make sure you take a look at my blog on Choosing the Right Paleo Cooking Oil which will help to explain the benefits of cooking in natural saturated fats.
In this recipe I used lard to deep fry the fish; due to its neutral flavour and high smoking point it made it the obvious choice for me. You can find out more about the health benefits of cooking with lard in my article for Primal Eye Magazine. It is the perfect option for high temperature cooking and is a great source of vitamin D; however you should make sure that you use lard which comes from the fat of free-range pigs to gain the maximum health benefits.
This can be a bit more difficult to locate; try out your local farm shop or online and avoid the cheap versions you find in supermarkets. I use a couple of blocks of lard to deep fry the fish, this should be enough to create a few inches of fat.
A few cooking tips…
The fish pieces can sometimes stick together if you overload the pan so cook the fish in batches if needed. I actually used a wok for frying the fish rather than a saucepan but you can use a deep fat fryer if you have one or a chip pan. Place the fish into the fat away from you to avoid any splashes and always take care when deep frying; be aware of your pan handles over hanging as the last thing you want to do is knock them.
The fish will cook quite quickly. I cut my cod fillets in half and they cooked in about 4 minutes on each side and came out lovely and golden with a crunchy coating. If the fat is too warm then you will find that the batter starts to cook faster than the fish so it is important to turn it down to a medium-low low heat once the fish is in to make sure it is cooked through evenly.
PIN THE RECIPE FOR LATER:
Servings: 4 people
- 4 pieces cod, cut in half
- 400g (1 lb) lard
- For the batter:
- 65g (1/2 cup) tapioca flour
- 40g (1/3 cup) coconut flour
- 120ml (4 fl oz) sparkling water
- 120ml (4 fl oz) water
- Pinch sea salt
- Pinch black pepper
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- For the tartare sauce:
- 1 egg yolk
- ¼ tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 150ml (5 fl oz) walnut oil
- 2 tbsp capers, chopped in half
- 3 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- To serve:
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- Whisk the batter ingredients together in a large bowl until combined.
- Place the lard in a large saucepan or deep sided frying pan over a medium to high heat.
- Test if the oil is hot by dropping in little bits of batter. If it bubbles instantly then the fat is hot enough.
- Place each of the cod pieces into the batter mixture then carefully lay into the fat placing it away from you to avoid any splashes.
- Turn the fat down to a low to medium heat so that the fish can cook without the batter starting to burn.
- Cook the cod for about 4 minutes then carefully turn over and cook for another 4 minutes on the other side.
- Once the cod is cooked and the batter is browned and crispy remove from the fat and place on some kitchen towel.
- To make the tartare sauce you need to start by making a simple mayonnaise.
- Place the egg yolk, dijon mustard and white wine vinegar in a bowl and whisk together. Slowly pour the walnut oil in whisking as you go until you have a creamy and thick mayonnaise.
- Once you have the mayonnaise to the correct consistency add in the parsley and the capers and mix together.
- Serve the fish with the tartare sauce, wedges of lemon and a side portion of sweet potato fries.
** I find the best way to cook the fish is to chop each fillet into two. You can fry the fish in batches if needed as it can stick together if your pan is too small.
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