Sara Moulton is a chef, cookbook author and television personality. She was the executive chef for Gourmet magazine for more than two decades. Her show Sara's Weeknight Meals airs on PBS.
When it comes to deep-frying, my favorite batter is beer batter. Super-simple — just equal parts beer and flour — beer batter makes a very light, crisp coating. But I’d never thought that you could sauté with it, rather than deep-fry, until I read a recipe for sautéed beer-batter shrimp in Cooking Light. Intrigued but skeptical, I tried it, adding my little trick of dusting the shrimp in flour to start, which helps the batter to adhere to the shrimp. Once I had my shrimp, I married it to good old tartar sauce, a nod to my roots in New England, where tartar sauce ends up on top of every kind of fried food. However, if you’re not in the mood to whip up some tartar sauce, use soy sauce instead. You can think of this recipe as a kind of American tempura.
Makes 4 to 6 servings • Hands-on time: 25 minutes • Total preparation time: 25 minutes
1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Whisk together 1 cup beer, 1 cup flour, the mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until just smooth. Strain the batter into another bowl and let stand for 10 minutes. Reserve the extra beer. Meanwhile, make the Tartar Sauce.
2. Put 1/3 cup flour into a pie plate lined with wax paper or parchment. Check the batter; it should have the consistency of a thick pancake batter. If it seems too thick, whisk in up to 1/4 cup more beer.
3. Heat 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working with half the shrimp at a time, toss them in the flour, lifting the wax paper on both sides to move them around. Transfer the shrimp to a strainer and shake off the excess flour. Coat the shrimp with the batter, letting the excess drip off, and add them to the skillet. Cook them, turning once, for 1 to 2 minutes per side, or until they are golden. (Most of the batter will stay on the side you first put down in the skillet.)
4. Sprinkle the cooked shrimp with salt, transfer them to a baking sheet, and keep them warm in the oven while you cook the remaining shrimp in the remaining oil. Serve with the Tartar Sauce or soy sauce for dipping.
Tartar Sauce: Whisk together 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup finely chopped dill pickle, 1 trimmed and chopped medium scallion (about 2 tablespoons), 1 tablespoon drained capers, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, and 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce.