Gluten-Free Tempura Fish

Fish Tempura… Gluten-Free Version. I had a craving for some good tempura fish lately. Every so often I crave fish and chips… maybe not so much the chips as the fried battered fish. Fried foods are rare in our household. So anytime I fry something, I choose the recipe carefully… This time I was thinking of a crisp tempura-like fried fish. 
I had bought some super-fresh wild rockfish. It had looked so good at the store that I bought quite a bit. It’s rare to find fresh fish here in MT… without a trace of the fishy smell.  And because it was so fresh, I had originally thought of trying a Peruvian ceviche recipe my brother had shared with me. However, my plans quickly changed when I realized I had a ton of fresh vegetables I wanted to use. It was a hot day, so I chose to go outside and fire up the grill. Grilled the veggies … and some of the fish. But because I had bought quite a bit of fish, I decided to keep half of it to make some tempura fried fish. Rockfish has a nice firm texture, so it would hold wonderfully well during frying. 
My initial thought was to make a classic tempura batter, using regular flour. But as I was getting some of the ingredients ready, I thought to challenge myself. Why not make a gluten-free version?… I’d get to use some of my rice flour and GF flour I had on hand. So I went with the GF idea and decided to apply the same method as when making any tempura batter…. used an egg, some leavening, and ice cold sparkling water to make the batter.  Interestingly, rice flour tends to bring in a crispier coating versus regular wheat flour, so going the gluten-free route is quite favorable. Coating the fish with a starch removes extra unwanted moisture and allows the batter to cling to the fish. While I used sparkling water( because I had it on hand), I’m thinking you can use just plain cold water in a pinch. 
Well, the GF version worked out nicely and we loved it! The fish was moist and the batter crispy. It’s important to place the just-fried fish on a wire rack rather than on a paper-lined plate. The rack allows air to circulate and keep the coating crisp. If the fish is placed directly on paper, the coating will get soft and mushy from the moisture that accumulates on the bottom. I love to re-crisp the fish in the a hot oven(see tip)… So if I make a bigger batch, and know I will have leftovers, I will fry the fish until just golden. This way the fish doesn’t over cook when I re-heat it. Hope you enjoy…
Note: I left the salt amount to taste… I like to lightly salt the fish and then add a bit of extra salt in the batter.  This way both batter and fish are seasoned.
Tip: In order to serve the fish still hot and crisp after they’ve cooled down( or if frying  the fish ahead), I place the fish on a wire rack and bake in 450 deg F toaster oven for a few minutes until fish is hot and crisp… Re-heating the fish in a hot oven makes for a “just-fried” crisp fish. 

You will need:
1 1/2 lb firm flesh white fish( I used rockfish)
1/4 cup arrowroot powder(can use cornstarch)
1 tsp onion powder
salt and pepper
Tempura Batter: You will have a bit of batter left over… you could dip a few vegetables of choice, or use a bit more fish(2lbs).

1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup Gluten-free all purpose flour( I used King Arthur)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp paprika 
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten till frothy
3/4 cup COLD sparkling water
Grapeseed oil for frying, or oil of choice
1. Cut fish in desired size pieces( I cut mine about 4-5 inch pieces and got about 12). Pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. Mix arrowroot powder and onion powder together. 
3. Coat each fish piece with the arrowroot mixture. Set side. I placed mine in the fridge while I got the batter ready and heated the oil. 
~You may have some leftover arrowroot mixture, if so, add it to the tempura batter below.
Tempura Batter:
1. Combine rice flour, GF, flour, baking soda, baking powder, paprika, salt and pepper to taste(1/8 tsp) and any leftover arrowroot mixture from coated fish above. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl or large measuring cup, add egg and whisk till frothy.
3. To the beaten egg, add the rice flour mixture and whisk till combined.
4. Add cold sparkling water and combine to get a thin pancake batter… you may need to adjust water so you get a batter that falls off the spoon in a thin stream. 
5. Heat oil in a pot ( I always use a small saucepan so I use less oil) to 360-370F. Oil amount should be enough to cover fish… anywhere from 2-3 inches.
6. Using a fork, dip a piece of fish into the batter, allowing some of the batter to fall off and then place in hot oil. Repeat with another piece of fish. 
Because I use a small pot, I cook 2 pieces at a time, so as not to crowd the pot. If you are using a larger pot, you can place more fish, but be careful to not overcrowd. 
7. Fry fish till golden brown, turning fish as needed. Remove fish and place on a wire rack. Working quickly dip another fish into the batter and cook in hot oil. Continue to dip fish in batter and fry until all pieces are fried. 
8. Serve with aioli, malt vinegar, or lemon slices. My husband enjoyed it with a sweet chili-garlic sauce…
2013 07 15tempurafish

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