I know what you’re thinking. “Seriously, beer batter? Can’t you think of anything more original?” Well, the simple answer is: no, no I cannot. The reason is less simple; most recipes are either wrong, incomplete, or just plain not as good. This one is different – at very least, most cooking blogs wouldn’t be so brash to encourage you to
waste experiment with perfectly good craft beer. We aren’t most cooking blogs; in fact, we aren’t a cooking blog at all.
Pub food & baseball go together like beer and baseball – or peanut butter & jelly and baseball – or just about anything and baseball. This is a classic approach to beer battered shrimp – with a healthier vinegary side that will help your palate cut through the fried food. I also included a unique alternative to tartar/more conventional dipping sauces.
The beer of choice for this recipe is Resignation Brewery’s KCCO Gold Lager. This is a drinkable beer with very traditional American lager characteristics – making it perfect for batters. It provides enough CO2 and effervescence to create an airy and crispy coating for the fish, but it also delivers some more desirable flavors than you’ll get with Budweiser or an Old Milwaukee. The beer mostly cooks away when fried, but if done right you will pick up on some honey and corn undertones that give this beer a leg up on macro-lagers.
This isn’t a beer review, so I’m not going to delve any deeper or give a proper scouting report. I won’t pass up a Mets comparison though! This beer is an Omar Quintanilla. It is good enough to carry around and crack open when you want a rest from heavier beers, but it is not good enough to be an everyday player.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 lb of Large Raw Shrimp
- At least 1 bottle of KCCO’s Gold Lager
- 1 tbsp of butter (room temperature)
- Sherry cooking wine
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 egg whites
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- 1-2 Quarts of high temp Canola Oil
- 2-3 cups of Fresh Watercress
- 1 red onion
- 1/2 cup each of Red and Balsamic Vinegar
Measure out 1 cup of flour and about 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt and black pepper (obviously more if you are using more flour & beer). Measure 1 tablespoon of paprika (use a heavy hand!), 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, and 1/2 tablespoon of onion powder.
Whisk the dry ingredients together and set aside. Separate two egg whites and yellows. Beat the yolks with the butter. Add the beer to the yolks and mix well. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk just until smooth.
Cover the batter with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for about two hours. I’d recommend drinking beer and maybe writing on a blog to kill the time.
The salad has some idle time as well, so now is a good time to prepare the onions. Essentially we are pickling the onions in balsamic vinegar and sherry. Slice and halve the onions, place them in a tight bowl or jar, fill with a mixture of balsamic and sherry (about 60/40) and let sit in the fridge for 2 hours up to 2 days.
While we are waiting – you can also prepare this awesome watercress-mayo to go with shrimp. Mix in a small bowl: 1/2 cup of mayo, 1/4 cup of minced watercress, and the zest and juice of one half of a lemon. Cover and put in the fridge for later.
More prep work! The shirmp should be peeled, deveined, and butterflied. Leave the tail on when peeling the shrimp – it will make it easier to dip in the batter. To butterfly, cut the shrimp along the back about 3/4 the way through. Flip the shrimp over and make horizontal slits while removing veins along the underbelly.
Pat the shrimp dry and set aside. We can start heating up the oil now. I highly recommend using high temperature canola oil. Canola is heart healthy, and high temp oil can get up to 450 degrees before turning color or smoking. It is a bit more expensive, but it produces a much better product and is a bit more idiot proof (making it a must for me). You strain the oil and save it in the freezer for multiple uses as long as you don’t over cook it the first time.
You want the oil to get up to about 375 degrees before cooking. It is important to monitor the temperature. Too cold, and your fry will be soggy. Too hot, and you can burn down your house (Maybe. Only you can prevent forest fires).
When you ready to cook, beat the egg whites that we saved earlier until stiff. Fold this into your beer batter, this will help lift the batter when cooking – making fluffy and crisp.
Time to fry. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees so that you can keep finished shrimp warm and fry in batches. It is important not to crowd when frying. Dip the shrimp in the batter, letting the excess drip back into the dish before transferring to the oil. Fry for about six minutes, turning each piece once with a fork while cooking.
Once the shrimp reach a golden brown, transfer to a paper towel to let some of the excess grease drain out – then to a non-stick baking dish before placing in the oven to keep warm. I always check one from the first batch to make sure my cooking times were accurate or make other adjustments.
This one looked just slightly under done, so I added a minute to the cook time.
Almost time to eat. First let’s construct the salad. Chop the fresh water cress, add some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Strain the onions from earlier from the vinegar mixture, leaving about a table spoon as dressing. Mix the salad together – and add more balsamic to taste.
You can garnish the dipping sauce with some extra lemon zest – and you can kick up the flavor of the shrimp by dusting withe same spice mixture we poured into the batter. You can stick with Gold Lager to accompany the dish, or turn to a hefeweizen – which picks up nicely on the lemon and vinegar in the sides.