How do you keep battered fish crispy?

Lots of recipes for fried foods call for placing them on paper towels, brown paper bags, or even newspaper to drain excess oil, but unfortunately, this doesn’t help keep that nice crispy texture you worked so hard to achieve.

There’s an easy way, borrowed from restaurants that deep-fry food every day, to keep your fried foods crispy and delicious!

The best way to keep fried foods crispy? Just place them on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet. If you’re frying multiple batches, throw the whole setup into a low oven to keep everything warm as you keep frying and adding to the rack.

Battered cod always reminds me of two things: (1) Lenten fish fries; and (2) my Grandma. I went to Catholic school growing up and like just about every other Catholic church, during Lent ours held a fish fry every Friday. Most parents volunteered, and my parents were among them. In grade school us kids would mill about, running around and playing in the gym, while our parents spent their Friday evenings making and serving food. And without fail, we would all return home smelling like fried fish. My Grandma absolutely adored battered cod sandwiches (which I could never understand as a kid – my seafood palate didn’t extend beyond fish sticks, which for some reason I loved). Anytime we went out to eat somewhere like Eat n’ Park or Kings (local chains), she always ordered a fried cod sandwich. Needless to say, it was her menu item of choice when it came to ordering from the local fish fry and will always remind me of her. Over the last couple of years, my Chief Culinary Consultant and I have enjoyed some beer battered seafood while eating both locally and at the beach. I thought that Lent would be the perfect time to try my hand at it at home, so I bought a gorgeous piece of cod and we set about battering and frying it on Ash Wednesday.

Cooling racks are usually used to quickly cool down baked goods, like cookies and muffins, but they also prevent steam from collecting underneath and making the food soggy. In much the same way, putting fried food on a cooling rack means the excess oil will drip off, but there’s enough air circulating underneath the food that the bottoms don’t get soggy.

If you’ve ever seen a high-volume restaurant or fast-food chain kitchen in action, you’ll notice that they keep deep-fried foods like fried chicken on perforated trays that act in much the same way as the cooling rack and baking sheet combination.

So the next time you make doughnuts, fried chicken, fries, egg rolls, latkes, or whatever deep-fried deliciousness you’re craving, give this tip a try! This even works with keeping non-fried foods like waffles crisp.

I was pleased with how relatively quick and easy it was to make – the longest part was waiting for the oil to heat up in the pot! The batter has a lot of flavor thanks to the beer and a generous amount of seasoning, which complements the fish really well. We ate our cod with tartar sauce and French fries, but I would also love to try it on a hoagie roll with pickles and tartar sauce to mimic that quintessential fish fry sandwich.

This is definitely filed away under “never thought it would be so easy to make this at home!” Just make sure you have some candles to light – your kitchen will smell like fried fish! For me, it’s worth it to be able to make things like this at home, especially after my mom volunteered at the church fish fry last year and came home with some horror stories about the bulk packaged pseudo-food that they were using; a vast difference to how they did things when she volunteered some 20 to 25 years ago when we were in grade school. Such a shame, but I’m thrilled to be able to do it on my own now!