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How to Stop Batter From Bursting When Frying Fish?

By: Margaret Paxton - Updated: 23 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Batter Bursting Frying Fish Flour


When frying fish in batter in a deep fat fryer, the batter nearly always bursts open thus the oil gets onto the fish. I always ensure the fish is fully coated in flour and the oil is heated to 190 degrees. Any suggestions to prevent this happening?

(C.S, 20 April 2009)


It really is frustrating if this happens! Persevere though, because home-cooked fish and chips taste so good. Try this check-list of possibilities to solve the problem. Also, double check that your deep-fryer is working properly, you are following the manufacturers’ instructions and that the oil is fresh.

The problem you have experienced may be caused by any one, or a combination, of the following:Is the oil hot enough? How accurate is the thermometer? Test the temperature of the oil by first cooking a 1inch cube of day-old bread in it before frying the fish. The bread cube should pop back up to the surface turn brown and crisp within 60 seconds. If not, the temperature needs adjusting.

Types of oil for frying fish: clean, good quality, vegetable or corn oil is most often used. Olive oil is great but an extravagant way of deep-frying! Dripping is favoured by some cooks and vegetable fat by others. Peanut oil can give good results, too, but should be used with caution because of allergies.

Constant Temperature

When frying more than one piece of fish, make sure the temperature of the oil returns to the desired heat before cooking additional pieces. It is easy to overlook this but without constant high heat the fish will not have the ‘seal’ it needs.

Cold Fish to Hot Oil

Keep the fish fillets refrigerated until you are ready to dip them in your coating. Pat fish fillets with kitchen paper to absorb excess surface moisture and try omitting the dunking in flour and use the batter coating only; it may be the flour that is causing the problem. (If you do use a flour dip, make sure the fish has a very light coating of it and doesn’t look as though it’s wearing a thick white dressing gown!)

The colder the fish the better: this helps to create a seal before it comes into contact with the hot oil, which should then seal it completely, to keep the firm fish flesh in and the oil out. When the cold fish is dipped in batter and the excess mixture dripped off, your fish is sealed further and ready to cook.

You could also try refrigerating the batter for half an hour before dipping the fish in it-but give it a brisk stir after it is removed from the fridge. Avoid over-handling the fish and don’t worry too much about it being completely drip-free before frying it! (Watch out for hot oil splashes and ‘batter missiles’ though.)

Another tip that might help is to use less oil; only half fill the deep-fryer and cook one piece at a time. (Refer to your model instructions first.)I hope this provides the solution. Happy cooking!

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