Food for Soul


Deliciously tangy tartar sauce is the perfect foil to this fried dish.Beer-battered fried fish on a white plate accompanied by homemade tartar sauce and a lemon wedge.Credit: Reviewed / Ned Baldwin / Tara Jacoby

Written by Ned Baldwin

Updated September 29, 2021

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Frying food at home may seem daunting, but a laser thermometer makes cooking dishes like my perfectly fried fish surprisingly approachable. A laser thermometer (or infrared thermometer) allows you to manage the temperature of the oil with ease while maintaining a safe distance from the hot oil. And to make things even safer, I recommend using a high-sided pot as it basically eliminates splatter.

My fry batter has been perfected over the years at an annual summer fish fry for 250 people, and I love it because it’s super simple and reliable. Finally, I’ve included a recipe for great tartar sauce that you can make with ingredients you probably already have in the fridge.

What You Need

An illustration of a laser thermometer.
Laser thermometers allow you to maintain a safe distance from hot oil while you measure the temperature.


For the tartar sauce
1 lemon
1 tablespoon capers, chopped
2 tablespoons cornichons, chopped
¼ cup parsley, chopped (substitute tarragon, dill, chervil, or chives if that’s what you’ve got on hand)
1 tablespoon minced shallot (or minced onion)
3 anchovies, minced
½ cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cranks of a peppermillADVERTISEMENT

For the fish
24 ounces boneless, skinless white fish like hake, cod, sea bass, or tilefish (online retailers like Sizzlefish have great options)
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ cup rice flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1¼-1½ cups lager beer
2 quarts light vegetable oil like peanut, soy, or canola


Laser thermometer (like the highly rated Etekcity Infrared Thermometer)
Chef’s knife
Cutting board
Citrus juicer
Set of mixing bowls
Heavy-duty stock pot
Slotted spoon
Baking sheet with cooling rack (or a plate covered in paper towels)

Time Needed

45 minutes



How to make Beer-Battered Fish with Homemade Tartar Sauce

A person places pieces of just-fried fish onto a wire cooling rack.
Serve your beer-battered fried fish with homemade tartar sauce and lemon wedges, plus a side of fries for at-home fish and chips.

Step 1: Make the tartar sauce

Zest the lemon with a microplane, then use a citrus juicer to add the juice of half of the lemon into a mixing bowl along with the zest. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust by adding salt or a little more lemon juice. Set aside.ADVERTISEMENT

Step 2: Prepare the fish

Cut the fish into approximately three-ounce pieces. Season it with the salt, put it on a plate, then pop it in the fridge.

Step 3: Make the batter

Combine the flours and baking powder in a mixing bowl, then add the beer. Mix with a whisk until it’s smooth. Set aside.

Step 4: Prepare your frying station

Add the oil to your heavy-duty stock pot over medium high, keeping your laser thermometer close at hand. You’re looking to heat the oil to 350ºF. While the oil heats, get ready to fry by setting up either a sheet pan with a rack or a plate topped with paper towels. You’ll also want to grab your slotted spoon and a pair of tongs.

Step 5: Fry fish

When the oil reaches 350ºF, place a few pieces of fish in the batter and then, using tongs, gently and slowly submerge them one at a time in the oil. Repeat with about half the fish.

Pro tip: When frying, the oil temperature will fluctuate as you cook. Use your laser thermometer throughout the cooking process to make sure the oil doesn’t get too hot or too cool. Adjust the heat to maintain the temperature as needed.ADVERTISEMENT

Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the crust is golden. Using the slotted spoon, remove the fish and transfer to the rack or plate. Repeat this process to cook the rest of the fish.

A person uses a pair of tongs to add beer-battered fish to a pot of hot oil.
The optimal temperature for frying fish is 350ºF.

Step 6: Serve and enjoy

When it’s all done, sprinkle fish with a little salt and serve with lemons and tartar sauce.

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