You guide the boat quietly into a secluded bay and beach it on a sandy point. The other boats in your group follow. The morning’s catch is retrieved from live wells, and everybody heads to the well-used campsite, which was the reason you chose this spot.
Those of you who have fished together here so many times before know your responsibilities automatically. Two of you fillet the fish. Another sets up the camp stove and hooks up the propane tank. You and a buddy begin prepping the other ingredients for the “perfect” shore lunch.
Sound like a fantasy? Well, it happens every day of the summer on remote lakes across the U.S. and Canada.
It’s a tempura-style batter that will turn out some of the best campsite fried fish you ever tasted. The best part is you can mix the dry ingredients ahead of time at home and just add a bit of water and ice from the cooler at the shore lunch get together.
Once you’ve tried this recipe, you won’t want to limit its use to fish, either! It is great on any kind of seafood or vegetables you would consider deep frying. Try it on sliced onions and you’ll turn out the best onion rings you’ve ever tasted.
Ingredients for Fried Fish Batter Recipe
This fish batter recipe works well with any kind of solid white-fleshed fish such as perch, crappie, bluegill, and walleye. Also consider it for other seafood and vegetables – especially onion rings.
- ¾ cup cornstarch
- ¼ cup all-purpose (white) flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. finely ground pepper (use white pepper if you want the batter to stay white)
- 1 egg
- 1 cup cold fresh water or sparkling water (melted water in bottom of cooler works great if it’s clean)
- 1-2 cups ice cubes
Use high smoke point cooking oil like peanut oil (enough to get several inches in bottom of Dutch Oven)
Best Cooking Equipment for the Job
- 12-inch or 10-inch Dutch oven
- Cooking thermometer
- Long-handled tongs
- Fillet Kit
Tip: Bass Pro Shops XPS Professional-Grade Fillet Kit. It includes everything you'll need to safely fillet fish of any size with speed and precision.
Instructions for This Fried Fish Recipe
1. Before you leave home, in a large bowl mix together dry ingredients in proportions above. (You can multiply this to make enough to last for several meals and just portion it out about 1 cup per meal at camp.)
2. Store mixed dry ingredients in a resealable zipper top bag.
3. To prepare for cooking, stir together 1 cup of mix with the beaten egg and 1 scant cup of ice cold water in a bowl large enough for dipping fish fillets. Stir just enough to blend and remove any lumps.
4. Judge the thickness of this batter – YOU WANT A VERY THIN MIX. Too thin is better than too thick as long as it will mostly stay on the fillet when you dip it.
5. Add ice cubes and stir just a bit more. Allow to chill thoroughly. Add more ice cubes as needed to keep the batter really cold.
6. Heat oil in Dutch oven to 350°-375° Fahrenheit. (Do not allow oil to start to smoke.)
7. Dip fillets into batter and allow to drip off slightly. The ice cubes stirred directly into the batter keep it well chilled through the cooking process.
8. Transfer directly to oil, being careful to lay the fillets in away from you. Do not overcrowd the kettle. As you carefully place the fillets into the oil, lay them away from you to avoid splatters, and hold onto them for a few seconds before releasing them. This allows the batter to set on the fillet, so less comes off into the oil.
9. Deep fry each batch for 2-3 minutes, turning often until the batter puffs and takes on a golden brown color and crispy crust.
10. Remove fried fish fillets and place on plate covered in folded paper towel. Allow to rest for a couple minutes on paper towel. Change paper towel frequently as to not return oil to the fillets.
11. Make sure oil temperature comes back to at least 350 before starting next batch.
12. Serve with favorite sides and condiments.
Other Cooking Hints:
Getting the oil temperature right is important. If it’s too hot it will scorch and could even start on fire. If it’s not hot enough, the batter will absorb oil and become greasy. A cooking thermometer makes this much more precise.
When you lay the battered fillets into the oil, hold them submerged in place for about 10 seconds before releasing. This allows the batter to set so less will float up and eventually burn in the oil. A long handled tongs in necessary to do this.
Fillet every thing from yellow perch to salmon with the XPS Professional-Grade Fillet Kit