Last Updated on July 11, 2022 by Carne Diem
Protein: Fish (Cod)
Origin: Great Britain
Method: FryerJump to Recipe
You don't get to spend a year living in England without leaving with an appreciation of a properly cooked fish and chip meal. Flaky white cod coated in a thick, seasoned beer batter is a quintessential British comfort food. Keep reading to learn some unique history about this famous Atlantic fish, and how to easily make some beer battered cod at home.
Britain vs. Iceland: The Cod Wars
When trying to decide which fish and chip recipe to post here first, British or Icelandic, I came across a lot of interesting history involving the two countries. Battles between the two nations over fertile fishing waters, just off the coast of Iceland, began as early as the 14th century.
Over the ensuing centuries there would be a small series of conflicts, but the "Cod Wars" came to a head between the 1940's and 1976, when the two nations underwent a full on Cold War over fish. Warning shots were fired, including bombarding boats with non-explosive shells. Military escorts became the norm to the fishing grounds and dozens of boat ramming incidents occurred. It has been described as bumper cars on the high seas.
The "war" resulted in only a couple casualties, though the international political and economic repercussions were much more real. Iceland came precariously close to withdrawing from NATO over the whole ordeal, which would have resulted in the cancelling of the US Defense Agreement, and loss of NATO bases that were being used to prevent the Soviet Union from entering Atlantic waters. The dispute was finally settled in 1976 with Iceland preserving the fishing grounds within 200 miles of it's country.
Having had the pleasure of enjoying both British and Icelandic fish and chips, I have a hard time picking a winner in this modern Cod war. Both are delicious in their own right. For this recipe I am sticking with the British version which consists of a bit heavier batter compared to the tempura like Icelandic batter. Plus I can never say no to using beer in a recipe.
Preparing the Beer Battered Cod
Prepare the batter
First sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. At this point you can also add an optional tablespoon of salmon seasoning or Cajun seasoning for some added flavor. This, however, is not the traditional way of doing it.
Slowly stir in the Guinness until combined into a smooth batter. The beer should go in cold.
Make sure to keep the batter as cool as possible. If you do not plan on using it immediately, place it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. Fresh batter works best, so do not wait too long. It is very important to the final texture of the batter that the batter is as cold as possible.
Prepare the fish
If using a larger piece of cod, trim the cod into equal sized portions. Pat dry all of the cod pieces to remove any excess moisture.
Place the cornstarch on a small plate. Dredge the fish pieces through the cornstarch, making sure to cover the entire surface. Shake off any excess cornstarch.
Next, dip the cod pieces in the cold batter and make sure it is coated well.
Cooking the Beer Battered Cod
Fry in 375 degree oil until the fish is cooked through (145 degrees internal temperature). This typically takes about 5-7 minutes. If you have an instant read thermometer, this is a good time to put it to use to check the final temp of the fish. If you want to learn more about instant read thermometers check out our page under Tools of the Trade.
When your fish is at temp, remove it from the fryer and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Let it set for a few minutes before serving.
Now it is time to serve up your Guinness battered fish with some malt vinegar and a side of our Always Crispy French Fries for a proper fish and chip dinner. Don't forget to enjoy it with a pint of stout or English bitter. For more British recipes be sure to try our British Chicken Tikka Masala and Deconstructed Beef Wellington.
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Guinness Beer Battered Cod
- Deep Fryer or Deep pot for frying
- 6 Pieces of Cod
- 2 cups Flour
- 1 Tab Baking Powder
- 1 tea Salt
- 1 Tab Salmon Seasoning optional
- 1.5 cups Cold Guinness Beer
- ½ cup Cornstarch
- 2 quarts Oil for Frying
- Malt Vinegar for serving
- Lemon Wedges for serving
Preparing the Batter
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Include any optional seasoning, if desired, at this point.
- Mix in 1 ½ cups cold Guinness beer and sir until a smooth batter is formed.
Preparing the Fish
- Cut the cod into equal sized portions, then pat dry with paper towels.
- Dust both sides of the fish pieces with cornstarch and shake off excess cornstarch.
- Dip the fish in the batter and fry in 375 degree oil until the fish is cooked through and the batter is golden. This typically takes 5-7 minutes.
- Let the fish cool for a few minutes before serving.