I flour thin, delicate fillets of fish -- sole, flounder, plaice, that sort of fish -- to create a light crust, and only if I'm sauteeing or pan frying. The crust serves two purposes: 1) to improve the appearance -- a lovely even gold instead spotty brown-on-white; and 2) to help the delicate fish hold together.
I prefer using a pregelatized flour (Wondra is a brand here in the States) to plain or all-purpose flour. It seems a little heavier at first, but cooks more evenly for a prettier and still thin crust.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
I would not like to take the risk of finding out. According to a family friend, who also happens to be the local doctor the fish & chip shops in the area are one of the main sources of food poisoning!.
These types of fish & chip shops now use frozen and then battered fish that is then deep fried in hydrogenated fats.
I find this thread to be of particular interest.
I realize you're in the UK, where fish n chips (loaded tableside with salt and vinegar) is common fare. My dad was born in Seven Oaks, Kent. He grew up eating this stuff.
Certain fish have different textures and moisture/fat/oil contents than others. Therefore requiring different handling and cooking techniques than other species.
For example, fresh haddock is a phenomenal fish, but to char grill a skinless boneless filet on it's own is virtually impossible. It simply won't hold together on the grill. Grouper on the other hand is firm and flaky and very grill friendly all by itself (which is how most of us like our fish cooked in the US)
But fresh grouper availability in the UK is scarce, so you have to work with what you can get locally. Haddock, Cod and other various N Atlantic species.
Coating a delicate fish filet in seasoned flour, cornmeal etc creates an outer coating on the fish that helps hold it together when grilling, pan searing. Baking or broiling, on the other hand requires no additional protection because you're not handling the fish nearly as much while cooking. Breading the filet also creates a crust that locks in mosture and keeps the fish tender and moist, which has a better mouth feel. It also adds flavor so one doesn't need to salt and vinegar as much (If at all).
You stated that breaded and battered fish has a high ratio of foodborne related issues. Perhaps this is a direct result of it's relatively high consumption rate where you live. Wholesome seafood is just as safe as any other protein, and it really comes down to quality (which equals safe) concious operators. Breading and battering should have no impact on it's safety, unless there is cross contamination or time/temperature issues.
(There are a million and one variables here which would take a long time to discuss thoroughly)
You also mentioned the frying oil component which deserves comment.
There are many types of fats/oils. Some are good and some are bad.
Hydrogenated oils are getting a lot of press these days because of Trans Fatty Acids. Many retail and foodservice operators have shifted away from trans fats because of it's potential contribution to obesity and a number of other health related issues.
Unfortunately, the direct result of moving away from trans fats, generally causes a shift to higher levels of Saturated Fats in cooking oils.
Both are bad for your health if consumed in great quantities and mixed with poor personal health practices, such as lack of excersise and balanced diet.
But, have you ever tried deep frying a breaded fish in olive oil? Minimal Saturated fats and no Trans Fats, but the end result is aweful.
So it all comes down to balance. A quality eating experience or a feel good healthy experience?
There is room in the middle which should not affect your longevity in any noticable way.
I can understand your perception being in KY and all, however you are completely incorrect in your statement that the majority of fish is fried in this country. I was trying to cut n paste a file to this post, but I couldn't figure out how (assuming it's even possible)
I had to upload this file to my geocities account. Please visit the link below and you will see for yourself that Grilled, Filet and Sauted Fish consumption in the US is almost 3 times that of fried.
This was a well researched and financed study that included all categories of foodservice, QSR, Casual, Fine Dining and Independents, and was purely on a collective national scale.
It was only focused of fish, excluding shellfish, and again, was exclusive to Foodservice. Perhaps, throwing in shellfish (particularly shrimp) and home use from retail, I'm sure it would portray a different picture.
Fried was second in it's own standalone category, but so was saute'd, filet style servings and grilled.
When you add filet (which would include baked and broiled) with grilled and saute'd, US consumption vs fried, they represent a near threefold consumption ratio over fried.
Please understand, I have no issues with fried seafood. In fact I just had some fried seafood for dinner tonight.
But the facts speak for themselves.
(How do you post images here BTW? I saw you posted one on another thread)
Keep in mind that the three of the top five seafood categories in the US are Salmon, Tuna and Shrimp. The other two are Pollock and (Catfish and Tilapia are virtually tied for 5th place)
Grilled shrimp is currently taking over fried shrimp in terms of consumption.
I've never personally seen anyone offer fried salmon or tuna.
Please let me know if you have, because I'd be real curious to try it (but my expectations would be low)
Again, these are facts and I can throw so much research and data your way, it would make your head spin.
There's a button above the text box that looks like an envelope with a postage stamp. Click on that to post an image.
With all due respect, 150 independents is not a large enough sample to cover all the independent categories available to us. That's three restaurants per state, and there are more than three categories per state. Not only that, it assumes the same demographic across the whole survey. Not questioning the stats, I'm questioning the design.
I would suggest, however, that any study which purports to track seafood consumption, but which leaves out home-cooked, is flawed by definition. Plus, given the points Kuan makes, I'm guessing the design is pretty much filled with artifact.
>When you add filet (which would include baked and broiled) with grilled and saute'd, US consumption vs fried, they represent a near threefold consumption ratio over fried.<
Well, as the man said, there are lies, **** lies, and statistics.
Our discussion was about preparation methods. Now you want to combine baked, broiled, and sauteed with grilled, call it one category, and conclude that fried runs a very poor second to that category.
That's not how it works.
And, of course, it's easy to prove your point by excluding major geographic sections. According to your comments, neither the South nor the Midwest count as part of the United States.
All of this reminds me of how some food historians insist that frying wasn't a major part of colonial cookery. To support this contention they turn to one of George Washington's oft-quoted messages, in which he enjoins the troops not to fry their rations; but to boil or roast them instead.
Frying was not considered healthy for troops in the field because it could result in a flux of the bowel.
What they overlook is that if there wasn't a tradition of frying, Washington would not have had to caution the troops not to do it. And it's likely, given the history of food prep, that many a Centurian had to issue the same warning.
Just as a matter of interest, in parts of Michigan they do fry salmon. I don't care for it, myself, but many folks seem to.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Enough battle on this subject, you make some good points.
The data did not exclude the Midwest and Southeast, it included everybody in the foodservice arena, and ignored the regional component you referred to.
Regarding oil frying in the old days, I believe the concern was illness from rancid oil, not fried foods in general.
Actually I do have many friends in the beef industry, including the rendering side of things.
One of my very close friends owns the largest renderer in the Mid-West.
He ships tallow all over the country, but not in small quantities.
Pound for pound, it's cheaper than Canola and Soy Oil, and lasts 25-30% longer, in terms of fry life.
Right now, a 35 lb jug of trans fat free Canola costs about $22/35lb jug, and a 50 lb block of tallow costs about $19
Most food poisoning from fish&chips shops are caused by cross contamination (raw vs cook)
Other then the dangers of trans fats, acrylamide formation in food is becoming an issue. Foods high in carbohydrates (flour, potatoes, batters, etc.) and containing an amino acid called asparagine (common in proteins) create acrylamide when subjected to high intense heat like during deep frying. In certain European countries (Norway, Finland in think) acrylamide levels are regulated. Even breakfast cereals are affected due to the high heat during extrusion.
For now this <problem> has not caught that much media attention but may potentially become another <trans fat like> issue.
my opinion: it is a serious threat because production line speed keep increasing for efficient output hence requires to increase cooking temps.
Potato chips, cornchips, crispy snack, prefried french fries, breakfast cereals are examples.
So remind me doc, how many fries would one need to eat daily to see a potential impact on health from acrylamide?....100 lbs per week? Anyone who eats that much baked and fried starches deserves a solid case of morbid obesity.
(disclaimer...this is not an attack on obese people. I realize there are many many factors, including genetics and other medical causes)