During college, I worked as a marketing intern for a consultancy in Cambridge, Mass., assembling conference materials, writing direct mail promotions and stuffing envelopes. Because it was summer, and our basement space was air-conditioned more for the comfort of computers than people, we plotted where to escape for lunch and whether we could convince the office manager to take us for a spin in her vintage VW convertible.
In a city full of immigrants and students, in a neighborhood halfway between Harvard and MIT, we were minutes from whatever we craved, whether it was a chicken sandwich or felafel. I was usually up for anything. Our controller hated fish.
Up to that point, I don’t think I’d ever met anyone who wouldn’t eat anything that came from the ocean. I grew up outside of Boston, pretending to choose lobsters from the tank at the grocery store while my mother bought scrod, bluefish or scallops for dinner. Being allowed to order a whole, fresh-off-the-boat lobster in a restaurant was a rite of passage. But K. was from Indiana. What she knew of fish and seafood came mainly, she admitted, in the form of frozen sticks and days-old fillets. I couldn’t really blame her.
I like to think this beer-battered fish, made with fresh scrod, would have changed her mind. When I eat this with coleslaw, it’s summer.
Beer-Battered Scrod (serves 3-4)
Adapted from Beer-Battered Fish with Smoked Paprika Mayonnaise, Gourmet March 2006
1.5 lbs scrod fillets
3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 c beer (something light–an ale or lager)
1/2 c mayonnaise
3/4 tsp smoked paprika
Pour about 1/2 inch of oil into a large skillet and heat on medium high heat. Cut the fillets into 6-8 pieces, making sure each piece is roughly uniform in thickness so it cooks evenly. Mix together the flour and salt, and stir in the beer to make a thick batter. Don’t worry if the batter is a tiny bit lumpy. When the oil is hot, coat each piece of fish with batter and place it in the oil. Fry, turning once, until golden on each side.
Make the sauce: mix mayonnaise and smoked paprika (the original recipe includes capers, which makes it a bit like more like tartar sauce).
Serve with coleslaw or a salad of mixed greens tossed with a good vinaigrette.