Add Vodka To The Mix When Making Beer Battered Fish For A Bold Taste Explosion

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If you haven't been adding vodka to your Friday fish fry, it's time to start. This fish fry phenom may have a strong enough ABV to put even a Herculean drinker under the table, but here at Tasting Table, we believe that beer-vodka fish fry batter belongs on the table. Funnily enough, beer-vodka batter isn't even about the booziness. Fish-frying foodies swear by beer for its flavor and richness, but mostly for its carbonation, which is crucial to achieving a crispy, light breading. And if beer is where the airiness happens, then vodka is where the science occurs.

Vodka's contribution to fried fish batter is twofold. Firstly, deep-frying effectively vaporizes any liquid in the batter, hence the crispy crust. Vodka aids in this "crispifying" process because it evaporates faster than water. Secondly, the high alcohol content in the vodka helps dissolve the gluten proteins in the flour. This effectively slows the batter's cooking process by preventing the wheat from prematurely forming into a tough crust and accidentally becoming hardened before the fish inside has a chance to cook all the way through. In short, vodka makes the batter stay on without drying out, producing a particularly crunchy crust around the moist filet inside.

Fried vodka, anyone?

As with normal beer batter, the alcohol cooks away during the frying process. But, the trick to creating the ultimate fried fish is making sure the mouth-watering crispy compounds don't cook away, too. For starters, keep your beer capped until the moment when you're ready to use it. This will prevent those crucial carbonated bubbles from escaping, making sure they all end up in your batter.

On the note of vodka, do not go gentle into that good night. In his fish fry batter, Triple-Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal uses equal parts vodka and beer — and a shot or two isn't going to cut it. Per his cookbook "In Search of Perfection," 1 ¼ cups of both vodka and beer per 1 ½ pounds of fish is ideal. Stir the boozy duo with the usual dry ingredients in your batter, then dredge your filets in it before frying them in oil. (Chef Blumenthal also combines his batter ingredients in a CO2 canister for extra aeration, but who's counting?)

Don't waste your top-shelf Grey Goose on this recipe, as most of it is going to be cooked off, but in general, it isn't a good idea to cook with a vodka you wouldn't consider drinking. (Leave the paint thinner stuff for thinning paint.) This pro tip isn't just for fish and chips, either. A slug of vodka can elevate any beer batter, from fried mushrooms to fried eggplant.