Crisp, Light and Fluffy Spanish Mackerel and Edible Wild Green Fritters

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Mackerel and Edible Wild Green Fritters

French cuisine chef Shinsuke Ishii recommends “Spanish Mackerel and Edible Wild Green Fritters” as a variation on a fish dish. Its light texture is perfect for parties and other festive occasions.

A dish of fish or vegetable fried in a tempura-like batter is called fritto in Italy and beignet in France. At Ishii’s restaurant, he sometimes serves fried meat, oysters and other ingredients.

He says the secret ingredient in the batter that “makes anything crispy and tasty” is beer.

“Sparkling water also works, but the subtle bitterness of the beer adds to the flavor,” he said.

Mix beer with flour and dry yeast well and let rise. The beer and dry yeast keep the dough crisp even after it cools. “It’s perfect for party food,” Ishii said.

Spanish mackerel was used for this dish, but yellowtail, which is currently in season, would also work. The dish is given a seasonal feel by the addition of edible wild plants and spring vegetables, such as taranome aralia buds and butterbur buds, which are readily available in stores at this time of year.

For the sauce, use sweet tomatoes and well-mellowed sherry vinegar. They are light and easy to mix with the fritters. If sherry vinegar is not available, rice vinegar also works. The acidity of the vinegar gives the fritters a refreshing flavor.

The key to frying fritters is to coat the ingredients thoroughly and keep them moist. They should be fried until golden brown. Since the tips of the leaves of rape blossoms and taranome buds are thin, the batter should also be thin so as not to overcook them.

When I took a bite of the freshly fried dish, I found it to be light and crisp, yet soft and fluffy. It was a new texture for me, different from tempura or other deep-fried dishes. The sweet and sour sauce wafts through my nose, followed by the subtle bitterness of the beer. It will be fun to try different ingredients and see what I fry next time.

Fried fruits also tasty

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Banana and strawberry fritters

If you have leftover batter, you can refrigerate it and bring it back to room temperature to use the next day.”

It is also fun to deep-fry fruits such as bananas and strawberries.

When frying foods with high water content such as strawberries, coat the entire surface with batter to prevent moisture from escaping. Fry in oil at 190C until golden brown. To make it extra fancy, sprinkle powdered sugar over them and serve with ice cream.

Spanish Mackerel and Edible Wild Green Fritters

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • 120 grams Spanish mackerel fillet
  • 2 nanohana rape blossoms (about 10 centimeters long)
  • 2 taranome aralia buds
  • 1 butterbur bud
  • 50 grams boiled bamboo shoots
  • For frying:
  • 50 grams strong flour
  • 50 grams light flour
  • 3 grams active dry yeast
  • 140 milliliters beer
  • Oil for frying
  • For sauce:
  • 100 grams sweet tomatoes
  • 20 grams onion
  • 5 grams capers
  • 2 grams parsley
  • 20 milliliters extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 milliliters sherry or rice vinegar

  • Directions:

    1. Prepare the batter. In a bowl, combine heavy flour, light flour, active dry yeast and beer. Mix well to prevent lumps from forming. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for about an hour.

    2. Prepare the sauce. Cut the tomatoes into 3-millimeter cubes, chop the onion, capers and parsley, and put them in a bowl. Add olive oil, sherry vinegar, 2 grams of salt and 5 grams of sugar and mix.

    3. Pat the Spanish mackerel dry, cut into bite-size pieces and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Rinse the nanohana rape blossoms, taranome buds, butterbur bud, and bamboo shoots. Cut the butterbur bud into bite-size pieces.

    4. Dredge the fish and greens in flour, then coat them in the batter prepared from earlier.

    5. Fry the ingredients coated in batter in oil heated to 190C until golden brown.

    6. Cut the fried pieces into bite-size pieces. Sprinkle lightly with salt and place on a plate. Serve with the sauce in a bowl.