Fried food has not had a good reputation. Everyone automatically thinks that it's artery-clogging bad for you...and it can be...if it isn't done properly. But if it's done right, fried food is delicious and not greasy at all.
There are several factors that make for good frying. The first is clean oil. Whether you use canola, olive oil, peanut oil, or even something exotic like avocado oil...it all boils down to the same thing: start with clean oil. The second factor is temperature. If the oil isn't hot enough, your food sucks the oil up and tastes greasy. If the oil is too hot, not only does the outside burn while the inside stays raw, but the oil itself breaks down and becomes useless. That's why it's better to cook at home than do take-out: when you fry at home, you're starting with clean oil, heating it to the right temperature, and then throwing it out when it's done. When you go to a fast-food place, that oil has been sitting there all day (if not all week)...it's been used hundreds of times...and quite frankly, it's beat up.
When you fry at home, you also have total control when it comes to the ingredients in the batter as well as the amount of batter you choose to use.
First: beer battered fish. Here's the way I do it: I use a combination of olive oil and canola. Canola has a higher smoking point, but olive oil has better flavor. I heat the oil and use a thermometer to make sure it’s at 350 degrees. Always watch the temp of your oil...it can get too hot very quickly...and by the same token, the temp can drop quickly if you throw in a whole bunch of fish into the pot all at once. Using one of those deep fryers made for home use is a good way of cooking and controlling temperature. And don't put too much oil in your pot (halfway up is fine) or you'll have it spill over, since oil expands as it gets hotter.
What got me started with this whole beer-batter-at-home process was stumbling upon some amazing fresh local cod at my neighborhood seafood store: Bridgeport Seafood in Tiverton. My buddy, Dave, said that the cod came from just off Sakonnet Point that day. Good enough for me!
Here's all you need for great beer batter:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
12 oz bottle of beer (Sam Adams Boston Lager works for me)
1 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat until smooth. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in fridge for 3 hours.
Cut your fish into pieces that aren't too big and will fit in your pot easily. Thickness of the fish may vary and so may the cooking times of each piece. When the oil is hot, simply dip the fish into the batter and let as much batter drip off as you like before you place the fish into the oil. Fry until golden brown.