Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Swai (It's Catfish) Beer Batter Fish and Chips

I've been a bit lax in posting my fish recipes.  Set a goal of at least 1 fish course a week during the year.  I'm gonna try to catch up here in the next few weeks.  I made this for Jackie for the first week of lent.  The idea of fried AND beer batter in order to purge your soul of a year's worth of sins appeals to my sense of humor.

I am in love with SWAI.  It's that Vietnamese version of Catfish.  So, any recipe you might have for catfish works great for Swai.  Best of all, it is probably the least expensive fish in your fish market.  Recently, my under-priced grocery store had a HUGE sale.  I bought pound after pound of pork, beef and 20 pounds of Swai.  It was on sale for just $2.09 a pound (down from the usual $4.99 a pound).

I have a feeling you will be seeing lots of Swai recipes in the months ahead.  Or maybe a Rights of Spring catfish grill for my hibernating neighbors.

But today... a little decadence to celebrate lent.

My Swai came frozen.  I zapped it in the microwave, one fillet at a time at the 1/2 pound setting.  This left it just a tiny bit stiff (just a shade frozen).  This made slicing crosswise into thin strips (about 1/2 inch thick, 3 inches long).  By the time I actually got around to frying them, they were completely thawed.

The beer batter I like is thinner than most.  The book says to make a pancake batter consistency.  Me, I like it a little thinner.  Just enough for a crispy coating, but not so much that you get a big taste of batter in place of a big taste of fish.  But, that's to taste, some people like a thicker batter.

OK... here's what I did...

 Enough Canola oil to fill a heavy frying pan (cast iron skillet) about 1/2 inch

4 Swai Fillets, about 3/4 pound each, cut into strips

1 cup Flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 TBS Smoked Paprika
1 egg, beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

1 bottle of beer (pour 3/4, mix and determine how thin (or thick) you want the batter.  The full bottle makes a wonderful thin batter that coats but does not dominate)

Mix the flour, cornmeal and paprika together.  Add the egg and 3/4 of the beer.  Determine how thick you want the coating.  I went ahead and added the entire bottle.

Heat the oil over medium high heat.

Set up a station, fish strips next to the batter, batter next to the frying pan, next to a plate with paper towels to soak up the remaining grease.

Dip, fry, drain.

It's pretty easy to tell when the fish is done, just look for that beautiful golden brown and delicious look.  Mine comes out with a bit of a reddish tinge due to the paprika.  Flip the strips after a few minutes so both sides are done evenly.

Serve with French fries, and some malt vinegar as a dipping sauce...

Honestly, don't you feel a little superior when you have fish on Friday during Lent?  But than that would be the sin of pride... Do I have to confess that on Saturday???

I am an old man (get off my lawn ya durn kids ya).  I remember when it was a Mortal Sin (Hell worthy unless you confess and are absolved) to eat meat on Friday, so every Catholic kid had their fish sticks for lunch.  Then, the Vatican II Council (mid sixties) softened their stance and moved this to a Venial sin (purgatory for a time) category.

It does beg the question (for fun, ask a practicing Catholic this)...

If a person ate Pork on Friday during Lent in the 50's and died when it was a Mortal sin, did they move from Hell to Purgatory in the 60's when it was changed to a Venial sin?

I swear that I did have one person explain that the type of people who ate meat on Friday back in the 50's were the type of people who committed other sins, so it was a moot point.

Ah well, more reverent people than me feel a need for fish on Friday.  My wife among them.  So, Fish on Friday for us till Easter for pious reasons.  After that, for health reasons.

Enjoy your fish sticks


  1. Swai? I've never heard of it but I love saying it. I might need to seek some out just so I can tell the world that I had swai for dinner.

  2. Dave, is Swai a really fishy fish? My favorite fish is Chilean Sea Bass - too bad my store never has it on sale and it sells for . . . $24.99 a pound!

    Dave - you need to get a deep fryer - much less mess! :D

  3. I love fish and chips. Your batter sounds great. I never heard of Swai either, but it sure does look good. Blessings, Catherine

  4. That platter of crisp delicious fish looks like heaven! Catfish is one of my faves. I will definitely for Swai the next time I'm in the local fish mongers here. Excellent post! Thanks again, Dave!

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  5. Looks great! Guess you are busy on the new site. Looking forward to it.

  6. "The idea of fried AND beer batter in order to purge your soul of a year's worth of sins appeals to my sense of humor."

    Best quote I've read all day!

  7. I've never heard of that type of fish either! Love the fish sticks!!!

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.