Monday, July 11, 2016

Beer Batter Tilapia Reuben with Shoestring Fries






     A Tasty Fish Reuben!
     Variations of a Reuben Sandwich can turn out to be exceptionally good.  A wide variety of meats can be used to make this sandwich.  Making a Reuben with fish is popular in Florida restaurants that feature fresh local seafood.
     Today's Reuben recipe uses the Thousand Island Dressing as a sandwich spread.  Manufactured Thousand Island Dressing straight out of a jar is what most casual restaurants sell.  I have never been a fan of pre-made food products, because concessions in quality are made to suit the manufacturing process.  Thousand Island Dressing that is made from scratch has much more character.
     I was a sauté chef at a trendy French Café in Florida in the 1980's when we first started making Reuben Sandwiches with Beer Batter Grouper as a special du jour.  It sounded like a nice idea for a lunch sandwich special.  Health conscious customers liked the idea of eating a Reuben that was made with fish, even though the fish was beer battered and deep fried.  
     Currently, grouper of all kinds have been overfished, so there are sustainability issues.  Most snapper species are not sustainable too.  Tilapia or any whitefish is a good alternative fish choice.

     Thousand Island Dressing:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/4 cups or enough for 2 large salads.  
     The ketchup measurement is nearly always done by eye.  This creates a personal touch.  Organic ketchup has the best flavor.  
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of mayonnaise in a mixing bowl.
     Add just enough organic ketchup to give the dressing a light pinkish orange color.  (About 2 to 3 tablespoons.)
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 teaspoon of worcestershire sauce.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 2 tablespoons of sweet pickle relish.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped green pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped pitted green olives.
     Add 1 finely chopped hard boiled egg.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Step 3:  Mix the ingredients together.
     Chill the dressing for 1 hour, so the flavors meld.
     Step 4:  *Check the consistency.  If the dressing is too thick, add 1 teaspoon of water at a time while stirring.  Thousand Island should be thick enough to easily coat a spoon and just thin enough to be poured from a spoon.

     Beer Batter:
     This recipe yields enough for 2 small fish filets.
     Step 1:  Place 1 cup of lager or pilsner beer in a mixing bowl.  
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of turmeric.
     Step 2:  Add just enough flour while stirring with a whisk to make a medium thin batter.  (About 1 cup.  The beer batter should be the consistency of thin pancake batter.)
     Set the beer batter aside or chill it for later use.    

     Sauerkraut:
     About 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of sauerkraut is needed per Reuben.
     Place 1/2 cup of rinsed sauerkraut in a small sauce pot.
     Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Gently warm the sauerkraut and allow the excess liquid to evaporate.
     Keep the sauerkraut warm on a stove top.
   
     Shoe String Fries:
     This recipe yields 2 portions.
     Step 1:  Heat 6" of vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 360ºF.
     Step 2:  Cut a large 8 ounce russet potato lengthwise into thin slices.
     Stack the potato slices together.
     Cut long thin julienne potato strips.
     Step 3:  Place the julienne potatoes in the hot oil.  (Add a few at a time to reduce oil foaming.)
     Fry the potatoes till they are crispy golden brown.
     Step 4:  Use a fryer net to remove the shoestring fries from the hot oil.
     Place the shoestring fries on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Season with sea salt.
     Keep the shoestring fries warm on a stove top.
     *Keep the oil hot for the Beer Batter Tilapia.

     Beer Batter Tilapia:
     This recipe yields 1 sandwich size tilapia filet.
     Step 1:  Select a 5 to 6 ounce tilapia filet that is about the same size as the sandwich bread.
     Dredge the tilapia filet in flour.
     Step 2:  Dip the tilapia in the beer batter.
     Knock off any excess batter, so the fish is covered with a thin even coating.
     Place the beer batter tilapia in the pot of 360ºF frying oil.
     Fry till the beer batter is crispy golden brown and the fish is fully cooked.
     Step 3:  Place the fried fish on a wire screen roasting rack to remove any excess oil.
     Keep the beer batter tilapia warm on a stove top.
 
     Beer Batter Tilapia Reuben with Shoestring Fries:
     This recipe yields 1 sandwich.
     Wheat Bread, Sourdough Bread or Rye Bread are good choices for this sandwich. 
     Step 1:  Heat a cast iron griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Brush 2 slices of whole grain wheat bread with melted unsalted butter.
     Place both slices of the bread on the griddle.
     Step 2:  Place a few thin slices of Swiss Cheese (Emmentaler) on the bread.
     Spread about 2 tablespoons of Thousand Island Dressing on the cheese.
     Step 3:  Place the sauerkraut on one of the bread slices.
     Place the Beer Battered Tilapia Filet on the other slice of bread.
     Grill till the bread is toasted golden brown and the cheese melts.
     Step 4:  Use a spatula to place the sauerkraut sandwich half on top of the fish half.
     Place the sandwich on a cutting board and cut it in half.
     Place the sandwich halves on a plate.
     Step 5:  Garnish the sandwich with sweet mini gherkin pickles speared with toothpicks.
     Place the shoe string fries on the plate.
     Garnish the plate with a parsley sprig.
     
     This is a nice reuben sandwich!  The crispy beer batter fish texture adds to the appeal.  Crispy shoestring fries are a nice accompaniment.

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