How to Perfectly Fry Fish

Chef Kevin Thiele of the Hotel Viking shares tips and recipes for pan-frying fish

While fish usually falls in the "healthy food" category, sometimes there is nothing better than a delicious piece of fried fish. You know what I’m talking about: when the batter is so crisp and golden that you just want to break off a piece and eat it by itself. 

I may or may not have done that with the Viking’s Fish & Chips.

Dipped in a local, Newport beer batter and then deep-fried, the exterior crust of the local haddock is packed with flavor and manages not to cross that fine line between perfectly deep fried and disgustingly greasy. Instead, biting through the crunchy encasing reveals moist and tender fish that also hasn’t crossed the line into overcooked and flavorless.

How does he do it? Or more importantly, how can you do this at home? We asked Chef Kevin Thiele of One Bellevue, located in the historic Hotel Viking in gorgeous seaside Newport, R.I., how to perfectly fry fish (and got the recipe). 

Since most people don’t have a deep fryer at home, chef Thiele has generously offered some basic tips for mastering the art of pan frying fish at home — plus his secret recipe for seasoned flour. The batter and tips that he shares can also be used for other seafood like oysters, shrimp, calamari, and clams.

Check out his tips below and let us know how it turns out!

 

1. The Fish

Using a local, white, flaky fish like haddock or cod is ideal for frying. Don’t use anything dense or too thick like swordfish. 

 

2. The Seasoned Flour

Since a wet beer-batter won’t stick to a wet fish, first dip the fish in a seasoned flour before dunking it in the batter. (This also helps to develop a better crust.) Thiele uses one that’s laced with chile, garlic, and onion powder for extra flavor.

 

3. The Pan

Use a large, shallow frying pan. You will be filling it up with the oil halfway so plan accordingly.

 

4. The Oil

Regular canola or frying oils are best. Add the oil until it’s deep enough to cover half the fish. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot. Note: Do not overfill the pan as the oil volume will increase when you add the fish to the pan with the oil — this could not only lead to a crazy splattering of oil but also to flames.

 

5. Cooking the Fish

When the oil is hot, add the fish to the pan (after dipping) and cook for about eight minutes (four minutes on each side). Thiele says that the batter should have a golden brown color, but a good way of testing the fish’s doneness is to check the internal temperature which should be around 140 degrees when cooked. 

 

6. Removing Excess Oil

 Drain the fish on paper towels or on a rack set over a baking pan to remove any excess oil and enjoy with some lemon wedges and French fries, of course.

 

7. Drink Pairings

What to drink with your delicious dish? Thiele says that fried seafood is delicious with Pinot Grigio, Albarino, or an unoaked Chardonnay. If wine is not what you’re looking for, then a cold Stella Artois works nicely. 

 

While Chef Thiele is lucky enough to be located in Newport where there is a bounty of fresh seafood, if you don’t have that option, try shopping at your local farmers market to find out what fish is freshest and in season or ask your supermarket fishmonger who should be able to help.

 

Click here to see the Fried Calamari recipe. 

Click here to see the One Bellevue Stuffie recipe. 

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