- Prep Time: 1 hr 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hr 40 minutes
- Servings: 2-4
- Yield: 4 servings
- 1-2 pounds skinless halibut fillet
- Oil for frying (such as canola, peanut or vegetable oil)
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon fennel pollen or ground fennel seed
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper or chili powder
- A pinch of white pepper
- Salt, to taste
- About 1 cup sparkling ice water
- 1 tablespoon vodka (optional)
- Malt vinegar, for serving
Optional dipping sauce (Zabaglione):
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon Sambuca (or sherry wine vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Salt, to taste
- 1 tablespoon sliced chives
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Step 1 Salt and rest the fish
Pat dry the halibut fillets and sprinkle all over with salt. Let rest in the fridge for an hour.
Step 2 Mix the batter
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, fennel, baking powder, crushed red pepper, white pepper and salt. Slowly add the ice-cold sparkling water and optional vodka. Mix until smooth and the consistency resembles heavy cream.
Step 3 Heat the oil
Fill a large, wide, heavy bottomed pot with oil about halfway. As a precaution, never fill your pot to the top, and always leave room for the oil to bubble up. Heat the oil to 370F.
Step 4 Batter and fry the fish
Dip each piece of fish into the batter one by one, lifting gently and allowing excess batter to drip completely, before carefully placing the battered fish into the hot oil. When placing the halibut into the oil, try to hold the fish and drag it back and forth through the oil for a few seconds before releasing it, allowing the batter to set. This will prevent the fish from sinking to the bottom and sticking. When the batter is golden and crispy the fish will be moist, succulent, and perfectly cooked.
Step 5 Remove from oil and serve
Immediately transfer the fish to a wire rack or paper towel to whisk away any excess oil. Dust with extra fennel and crushed red pepper and splash with malt vinegar before serving.
Step 6 Make the dipping sauce
Place the egg yolks, Sambuca, lemon juice, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk vigorously for 5-8 minutes until the eggs are cooked, aerated, and frothy. Remove the bowl from the heat and fold in the chives and parsley. Adjust the seasoning to your liking.