Many fish and chip cooks will tell you there’s an art to good batter, and recipes are often closely held secrets.
At its most basic, batter is a combination of flour and a liquid. Most batters use wheat flour, but some branch out with cornflour or even potato flour.
Eggs, milk and seasonings such as salt are frequently added to give a recipe an extra edge.
A good batter is light and fluffy. To get air in the batter, fish and chip cooks will often use baking powder, self-raising flour, yeast or a carbonated liquid such as soda water or beer. The liquid used is where you’ll find the most variety.
Batters with beer or soda water should be used straight away before they go flat, while those with yeast or baking powder might need to be rested for up to an hour to allow them to rise.
For a properly thin and crispy tempura, meanwhile, make sure the batter is chilled (it’s often made with ice-water). The reaction between the cold batter and the hot oil is one key to getting that light tempura texture.
And for a low-calorie alternative to battered fish, grilling is becoming an increasingly popular option in Australian fish and chip shops.