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OISHII / Try deep-fried cod to enjoy a crisp, light alternative

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Cod fritters with marinated vegetables

The Yomiuri ShimbunCod fritters

In this column, chefs and cooking experts share recipes that are easy to prepare at home.

The best season for cod is winter, and the fish is usually used in nabe hot pots. Cooking expert Maki Watanabe shared a cod fritter recipe so you can deep-fry the fish for a change. Adding sparkling water to the batter gives it a crisp, light texture. Take a bite when it’s piping hot.

A fritter is a deep-fried dish but differs from regular fried items in its crispy texture. It does not use bread crumbs but adds other ingredients to the batter instead. Watanabe used sparkling water to make preparing it easier. Using beer is also fine, she said.

To make the texture light, Watanabe used strong flour. The trick is not to whisk the flour and egg too much.

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  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    Nam pla sauce, right, and French mustard sauce

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

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  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

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“If you mix it too much, it will get sticky and heavy,” she said. “Leaving lumps in the batter gives it a crisp texture.”

Using olive oil “produces fragrance as well as a light texture when the fish is fried,” according to Watanabe. Heat the oil to 180 C and add batter-coated cod pieces. Remove them when they become golden brown overall and the bubbles become small.

Watanabe said other ingredients such as bream, squid and oysters are also good for fritters. “Asparagus or broccoli can be also fried without taking a long time. They go well with alcohol, too.”

Marinated vegetables are good sides to refresh your palate. Rub salt into shredded cabbage and slice red onion. Remove excess moisture. Mix with wine vinegar or similar seasonings. “Squeeze cabbage tightly and you can get rid of excess moisture as well as its grassy smell,” Watanabe said.

Place fritters and marinated vegetables on a big plate and sprinkle salt and a squeeze of lemon juice to finish.

The fluffy texture of the cod is surprising, and the light batter stimulates the appetite. The vegetable side dish is accentuated by the colorful onion slices and simple seasoning. After tasting the fresh, subtle sweetness and perfect sourness of the side dish, have another bite of the main dish.

This delicious alternative way of enjoying cod deserves a try.

Dipping sauce variation

Watanabe also introduced sauces to dip the fritters in, instead of the usual combination of salt and lemon juice. The first one features the impressive taste of nam pla fish sauce. It is made of grated garlic, hot pepper, lemon juice and other ingredients. The other is a sauce with the sour-spicy flavor of French mustard. It contains honey and olive oil. The taste of the fritters will change along with these sauces.

Recipe for cod fritters

Ingredients (serves 2):

2 slices cod

1 egg

200cc sparkling water

3 tbsp strong flour

¼ cabbage

½ red onion

1½ tbsp wine vinegar

Black pepper to taste

Lemon juice to taste

Olive oil

Directions:

1. Cut cod slices into three or four pieces and sprinkle with ½ tsp of salt. Let stand for 10 to 20 minutes. Thoroughly pat dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture and coat with 1 tbsp strong flour.

2. Mix the rest of the flour and egg, add sparkling water and whisk roughly. Coat the cod chunks with the batter and fry in 180 C olive oil.

3. Shred cabbage and rub ¼ tsp salt into it. When it becomes wilted, squeeze out excess water. Slice red onion thinly and soak in water. After about 5 minutes, drain and pat with paper towel.

4. Mix the cabbage and onion with wine vinegar, drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil over it in a circular motion, and add black pepper.

5. Serve the fried cod on a plate and sprinkle with lemon juice and salt to taste. Add the marinated vegetables on the side.

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