Kalifornsky Kitchen: A secret ingredient for fried fish

Victoria Petersen serves up beer-battered halibut with a not-so-secret ingredient.

Did you catch some halibut this summer? While I recommend enjoying fresh halibut in a more “pure” form, I do think frying it up in a beer batter is one of the most delicious ways to enjoy your catch.

I went halibut fishing last summer. I caught one butt while floating in a small boat with my friend, her dad and my boyfriend, who was negatively impacted by the rocking waves of Cook Inlet. To me, there’s no better state than on a boat bobbing up and down with the waves in the salty air.

After a morning at sea pulling up these heavy fish from the ocean floor, my forearms were on fire. We got back to my friend’s family cabin and processed our catches. Once we got home, and after a much deserved shower and nap, my boyfriend and I began mapping out our fried fish dinner: beer-battered halibut with a not-so-secret ingredient.

In college, I had the opportunity to visit Tutka Bay Lodge, and partake in different food-writing workshops with editors of the New York Times and the talented chefs who run the lodge, headed by Kirsten Dixon and her family. After visiting there for the first time about four years ago, I had to buy the lodge’s cookbook, which is full of recipes you can incorporate into your everyday cooking rotation with a heavy emphasis on food endemic to Alaska, like halibut.

It was in the “Tutka Bay Lodge Cookbook” I found how great the addition of curry powder was to beer-battered halibut. We’ve experimented with other spices, but curry powder and garam masala produce our favorite results.

This recipe is adapted from the Tutka Bay cookbook and uses curry powder, but feel free to add whatever spicy spice you have around. You can use halibut or cod for this recipe as well. When choosing a beer, I recommend choosing something local and maybe on the lighter side, but it’s all about your own preferences. Enjoy this fish with salty potato chips or fries.

Fried fish


Enough vegetable oil to more than cover the bottom of your dish

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon curry powder, cayenne, garam masala or spice of your choosing

1 cup local Alaska beer, maybe Kenai River Brewing’s Peninsula Brewer’s Reserve?

2 egg whites, whipped to soft peaks

Salt to taste

1 pound of boneless, skinless cod or halibut fillets


In a deep casserole pan or dutch oven (or an electric fryer if you have it), pour in the vegetable oil and heat until it reaches 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, mix up the flour, spices and beer. Fold in the whipped egg whites. Take the cut fish fillets and dip into the batter, covering the whole fillet. Slowly place the fish into the oil and fry for about four minutes. Remove from the oil once the crust is a deep golden brown. Place on a paper towel to drain the excess oil.

Victoria Petersen is a freelance writer living in Anchorage and a former Peninsula Clarion reporter.

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