Chef Michael Cimarusti Shares His Tips On Making The Perfect Batter For Fish And Chips - Exclusive

Chef Michael Cimarusti isn't just passionate about quality seafood — he's also devoted to making the experience into one rooted in sustainable practices. Nowhere is that clearer than in his restaurants. Providence LA, which offers both seafood and a vegetarian menu for those favoring a plant-based diet, has become one of the most well-known fine-dining hotspots in Los Angeles. In addition to serving sustainably sourced seafood (often from local providers also vetted for sustainable practices), the restaurant has added a rooftop garden to reduce its carbon footprint and prove the productivity and pleasure found in sustainability.

But sustainability doesn't mean giving up on top-notch meals. In addition to serving up luxury seafood at Providence, Cimarusti's restaurant Connie and Ted's offers classic favorites with big flavors, like lobster rolls and fish and chips. During an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, Chef Cimarusti discussed everything from tips for shucking oysters to his favorite luxury seafood ingredient — and he also shared the secret to one of his most popular dishes.

It's all in the batter

In addition to Providence LA, Chef Michael Cimarusti also owns Connie and Ted's in West Hollywood. This inviting and nautical eatery is famous for its crispy and savory fish and chips. At Connie and Ted's, the chosen fish is Alaskan cod, which is easy to acquire and sustainable. That said, when it comes to making the perfect fish and chips at home, Chef Cimarusti says it is all in the batter. 

"Put the flour in the freezer before you make the batter and leave it in the freezer overnight, and make your batter the next day," he shared. "The other thing that I'd recommend is to replace a certain percentage — and it's up to you how much you want to use — but replace a certain percentage of the water that's in the recipe with vodka ... Both of those two tips will help you achieve a crispier batter." Even better, Cimarusti explained exactly why these tips take your fish batter to the next level.

The effects of contrast and vodka

The freezing of the flour creates a contrast with the hot oil, leading to a crispier and crunchier exterior. "You freeze the flour before you make the batter, and you use the batter while it's super cold," said Michael Cimarusti. On the other hand, while it may seem like a surprising ingredient to add to fish and chips, the vodka also plays a huge role in perfecting your fish and chips. 

"The vodka works because vodka is usually at least 40% alcohol. As soon as the batter begins to warm up, that all evaporates away," Chef Cimarusti told us. "Yes, you've added more liquid to the batter, but as soon as that batter gets hot, all that vodka evaporates away, so you've got less water in the batter. That makes for a crispier coating on the fish."

Providence LA is open for dining Tuesday through Saturday.