13

At 4:46 in this video, Heston Blumenthal adds vodka to the batter for fried fish. This article in Robb Report also describes the process:

The star chef begins his experiment in an elevated way. He’s not using cod or halibut. No, no, no. This is a three-Michelin-star chef, so he’s going right for the whole turbot that he butchers himself to ensure maximum freshness and the correct portion size.

For the batter he mixes flour, rice flour, honey, vodka, and a beer. That’s all pretty standard, until he puts them in a CO2 cannister to make the batter even airier. Once the fish is dredged in flour and coated in batter from the soda cannister, he fries it. For one last step to make the batter crispy and thick, he drizzles more of it onto the fish while it’s in the frying oil.

What’s the purpose of the vodka?

3
  • @Cascabel i added the chef's name. i can't remember where on Stack Exchange, but i'm pretty sure a moderator told someone to remove names or brands because they look like advertising. does anyone know what i mean? – PC illiterate Jan 4 at 4:44
  • 1
    Given that vodka is literally "water + ethanol", your real question is, "why add water + ethanol to batter", which then raises the question: what does ethanol do besides get us drunk? – RonJohn Jan 4 at 4:53
  • 6
    @PCilliterate There is no policy here against mentioning names or brands, especially when they're relevant. If every one of your posts is about the same brand, or the same food blog, sure, you're going to attract some "is this a spammer?" attention, but if you just include whatever details you think are relevant (people or brands or otherwise), that's fine. – Cascabel Jan 4 at 7:17
38

According to this article about Blumenthal's method, which also explains the other ingredient/method choices: https://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/07/dining/07curious.html

The key to the Fat Duck batter is the alcohol, which does a couple of very useful things. It dissolves some of the gluten proteins in the wheat flour, so no elastic network forms and the crust doesn’t get tough. (You’ll notice when you combine the ingredients that the mix becomes mushy rather than sticky.) Alcohol also reduces the amount of water that the starch granules can absorb, and boils off faster than water, so the batter dries out, crisps and browns quickly, before the delicate fish inside overcooks. The crispness lasts through the meal, and revives well the next day in a hot oven.

4
  • 5
    Same principle as vodka for pie dough. – Willk Jan 3 at 22:31
  • 1
    Sounds like (more commonly owned) cooking wine would do the same job then. – T.E.D. Jan 4 at 21:41
  • 4
    ...and of course beer – T.E.D. Jan 4 at 22:02
  • 4
    @T.E.D. But both wine and beer (a) have a strong flavour, which vodka doesn't (b) have much higher water content (85–95% vs 60% for vodka), so I very much doubt they would do the same job nearly as well. The Blumenthal recipe already includes beer (for its flavour and carbonation) so clearly the vodka is included to achieve a further effect. – dbmag9 Jan 4 at 23:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.