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Cooking with fish

You can, if you like, simply serve with lemon butter and parsley, or use one of the sauces in the Sauces chapter.


Customers sometimes say: "We cook fish at home but cannot get it to taste the same as when we have it at the restaurant. Why?"
Naturally, we buy large fish for the restaurants and fillet them in thicker portions ready for frying or grilling. This also means the bones are easier to take out. With your small family, you do not need fish of this proportion, and you buy small fillets of fish, and generally just flour it, put a little oil in the pan and fry it too quickly. Because the fish is so delicate, it needs only a few minutes in the oil, and when you do not have any covering on it, it dries even more quickly. You get disappointed with your small fillets of fish and start to get frustrated picking bones out of your mouth. Spend a little extra time in selecting fish, and if you happen to have bones in the fish you have, take out as many as you can first. This goes for grilling, too. And remember the following hints:

The fresher the fish, the better the dish.



Please handle your fish with tender loving care. Don't fry or grill it with gay abandon stay at your stove so you can regulate the heat and therefore have a perfect result. Delicate seafood cooks very quickly.
Remember that small fish or fillets with a lot of bone are best pan-fried, steamed or grilled and served simply, without thick sauces. Fillets or steaks of large fish such as jewfish, snapper and barramundi are good for dishes that contain a lot of sauce, and if fried or grilled should always be served with a sauce as they tend to be dry. You will find plenty of good sauces in the Sauces page.


Before cooking, check that the fish is perfectly cleaned, and remove any odd scales that might have been overlooked. Remove as many bones as you can.
The recipes in this section sometimes specify a particular kind of fish, and at other times give a choice, or do not specify at all. Remember that you can always substitute one kind of fish for another. just use a similar type of fish to the one in the recipe. If you're not sure of a substitution in season-ask your friendly fishmonger!
The section at the back of the book, Buying and Keeping Fish, will give you information on some of the more common table fish, including their flesh type, availability in different states, and the names by which they are known in different states.



Deep-Fried Fish

Fried fish and chips
for dinner is a good get-together family meal. Bring out your large serving plates for fish and vegetable dishes to hold the hot chips. Put out plates of cut-up lemons, bread or rolls already buttered, tartare and creamy tomato cocktail sauce, even worcestershire sauce (lots of people like this) and vinegar, plus salad, if you like.
Hot plates are essential. Everybody sits down together and serves themselves from the centre plates piled high with fish and chips.
Cool watermelon, rockmelon (canteloupe), honeydew, paw-paw or whatever fruits are in season make the perfect dessert after a fish and chips meal.
The secret of deep-frying is to use plenty of fresh oil. All oil (if any is left) should be discarded after frying fish because of the sediment remaining in the pan. The type of oil to use is a matter of choice. Olive oil is perfect, as the fish is still very tasty and enjoyable when cold. I think it is the only oil that keeps the fish like this. Olive oil is, however, not to everybody's taste, and is not polyunsaturated but mono-unsaturated. Most people use one of the polyunsaturated oils such as safflower or sunflower oil for deep-frying.
For those who have no dietary problems and can cat or fry in animal fats, a delicious frying fat is beef dripping. We do not use it in the restaurants, but as 1 said in the introduction, 1 think the best fish and chips I have ever tasted were my mother's -cooked in pure beef dripping. But be warned, you must have it fresh every time you cook your fish, and discard the residue. Obtain your beef dripping from the butcher or make it yourself from beef suet. If you are rendering down the beef suet, please be careful, and do not burn yourself or the suet in the process. Never when deep-frying or pan-frying should you leave your pan with the heat full on. If you are called away, remove it from the stove, and at all times have handy a heavy lid that fits over the pan or saucepan. If you have a fire, do not run outside with the pan, but put the lid on immediately to smother the flame and turn the heat off.
Use a deep, heavy-gauge saucepan-one that you make your jam in or use to cook the winter steamed pudding.
Half-fill your pan with whatever oil you prefer. Heat the oil until very hot but not boiling. Some people say to look for that blue flame that comes from the oil in the pan and put the fish in when it appears. I can honestly say that in all the years I have been cooking fish and observed it cooking in the large deep-fryers, I have never seen that flame. I certainly have the oil very, very hot when I carefully place the fish in, but not boiling. If the oil was boiling the fish would be ruined -cooked on the outside immediately and raw inside, especially thick fish.
Coat your fish with a good batter (see below). Using your tongs, fingers or a slice, place battered fillets of fish in very hot oil and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the size, until golden brown. Do not try to cook too many fillets at once.
Remove fillets from pan. Drain and, if necessary, place on a serving plate in a very low oven to keep warm while you cook the rest of the fish. Do not pile the cooked fillets on top of one another, or they will become soggy.





Doyle's Deep-frying Batter

There are so many different recipes for making batter for coating fish, croquettes, fish cakes, shellfish, etc. Once you find the one you like, I suggest you stick with it, as we have.
Anyway, as requested so many times and told so many times to people from all parts of the world, here is the Doyle's batter recipe. It is so simple. The "secret" is in the beating. Say, 1/2 cup to 1 cup plain flour.
1 cup cold water, gradually increasing to about 2 cups
Place the flour in a basin with the 1 cup of water, then with a rotary hand-held beater start beating. Gradually add your extra cup of water and beat until you get plenty of "body" into that batter. You may have to add more water. The result has to be a thin, smooth, well bodied batter that adheres to a wooden spoon.
Keep testing by dipping the spoon in and le