Lent is a special season for all Christians and the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday is considered to be a period of penitence. However, different forms of Christianity commemorate it in different ways. This practice goes back to before the 1500s, and was observed for a time by the Protestants after they initially broke away from the Catholic Church in the 1500’s. Today there are a number of Fish Frys held in church basements as well as cafeterias in the United States featuring fish on Fridays.

A fish out of the water

Even though I’m Methodist I was raised among the traditions of Southern Baptist as well as Roman Catholic. It has made for a richer and deeper understanding of the diversities among the different Christian environments. They are truly unique yet united by a common belief. Like many Catholics there are many years when I observe Lent by not eating red meats on Fridays. Lent is a period of fasting and praying to prepare for Easter. It goes from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday lasting seven Sundays and forty days. By abstaining from eating meat those days it becomes a way to meet with God at personal level. Since I was a child my family has taught me this, and try to live out the practice.

Fishing in troubled waters

The act of abstaining from eating red meats, such as beef and pork, every Friday during Lent encourages an awareness of sorrows for my sins. Fasting is found in the Old and New Testaments as a form of repentance and remembering the need to give God a place in my life. Even though the Bible doesn’t say not to eat meat during this season it does take on an important role in my personal relationship with God.

There are a number of recipes that are customarily prepared for Fridays in our home. Fish in particular is especially symbolic in the Christian community. Jesus called his disciples to be fishers of men. Then there is the story of the miracle of the loaves and the fishes and when the early church was forming, to avoid persecution many Christians would secretly identify themselves by drawing a fish symbol in the sand.

A pretty kettle of fish

The following recipe is a favorite to prepare during Lent. Serve it up with some coleslaw and French fries and sprinkle with a little malted vinegar.
    The batter:
      1 cup flour Salt to taste if desired 2 eggs, separated 1 cup beer, preferably at room temperature 2 tablespoons canola oil ½ cup finely chopped green onions

      You will need about six cups of canola oil to fry the fish in.

    Keep in mind that the more beer is cooked and reduced, the stronger the flavor will be. Pale ale, like Samuel Adams is a good one to start with since it’s well balanced with rich flavors and fruity overtones. The carbonation in beer helps create a light, crisp crust. To make the batter, put the flour and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk in the egg yolks. Stir in the beer and oil. Cover and allow it to stand.

    Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold them in. Fold in the scallions too (those were the green onions you chopped up earlier.

    Heat six cups of oil in a twelve inch skillet on medium to medium high heat. Cut the fish fillets in half. Season the fish and dust lightly with flour; this helps the batter to stick to the fish. Now you’re ready to dip it in the batter and add to the skillet. Carefully turning the pieces once or twice, fry about two and a half minutes or until golden brown and crisp all over.

    As the pieces are cooked removed them from the skillet place them on paper towels to drain and then into a 200°F oven to keep warm Continue until all the fillets are cooked. Serve hot with pepper and mayonnaise sauce or lemon wedges. Serves four to eight.

Into the sauce

Here’s a nice little tartar sauce to prepare in advance:
    2/3 cup mayo
    1 tbl chopped capers
    1 tbl chopped gherkins
    2 tsp chopped parsley
    1 clove garlic chopped
    1 tsp lemon juice

    Combine all ingredients for in a bowl and chill for three hours.

Other fish to fry

My neighbor fishes up at Lake Powell, AZ and so there are usually a couple of pounds of fresh croppy or crappie, depending on your local parlance, and catfish in the freezer. Flounder and fluke work well for this recipe as well. It’s light batter and the mingling flavors of a pale ale with the green onions and fish are light and scrumptious. It works well for all kind of seafoods including shrimp, oysters, and other shellfish. The batter is versatile enough that it can be used with veggies too.

For a small fry

Quick fixes: These are great for families in a hurry or small servings. Take a package of Bisquick Quick and Easy Buttermilk biscuit mix. You can find them in the baking aisle of the grocery store usually located next to the Jiffy mix corn bread mixes. Add about one to one and half cup beer. Mix together until it’s the consistency of a very heavy cream.

For smaller servings use one half of the biscuit mix in the resealable bag. Reduce the amount of beer and toss the bag of biscuit mix in the freezer until next time.

sneff says, Here is a sensational and easy beer batter recipe. I'd love for you to try it one day.
Simply place 1 cup of self-raising flour in a bowl, add a good pinch of salt, then whisk in enough beer to make the batter the consistency of runny cream. Let it settle for 30 mins, then fry away.
Its light, crisp and nigh on perfect in every way.

Thank you sneff! Simple and delicious.

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