by Eddy Robey M.A.

Beer-Battered Coconut Fish or Chicken
  The Sun is shining on a peaceful world.
Warm days coax Fishermen from their beds for a contemplative morning on their own version of Walden Pond. Those of us who are blessed enough to know them will be gifted with the results of their labors.
What shall we do with the catch of the day?
Such a gift deserves to be treated with tender care, and can be the perfect reason for a Summer party.
Fish Fries are traditionally glad gatherings. We would like our guests to be impressed with our efforts, and ask ourselves what we can do that will be particularly nice. It is good to imagine a proud smile on the face of whomever caught our delicacy when it becomes the centerpiece for a happy occasion.
Special appetizers show initiative, and can elevate an ordinary meal into something very special. Of course, if you are lucky enough to have many fish, this can be done as a main course.
Although they can be made just before being cooked, 90% of the work for these little morsels can be done a day ahead of time. With the aid of an Electric Fryer, they can be finished at the last minute, and provide a touch of showmanship to your party, as your "audience" sees them come straight from the pan to the platter.
Some of you will not be fortunate enough to have fresh fish, but this dish can also be made with pieces of boneless Chicken. Do not, however, try to do it with Chicken that has not been deboned and cut in strips.
The Coconut breading needs to cook quickly in order to avoid over-browning, and whole Chicken pieces take too long.
A word about deep-frying: Too often we assume that it will be greasy. Fried food only absorbs Oil, if it is cooked at too low a temperature. If the temperature is correct, the food will be instantly sealed against absorbing any Oil. An Electric Fryer is a very inexpensive appliance. It will hold the Oil at the correct temperature until you are ready to use it, and has a gauge which will prevent any errors.
Precautions: Be sure to wear an apron when frying. A spatter of Oil can ruin your clothes. Do not try to do this whilst wearing a bathing suit. No matter how attractive you are, you will be less so, if you get a burn on your tummy. For the same reason, put a large bowl of ice water near where you will be frying, just in case it is needed.
2 pounds Boneless Fish or Chicken cut in about 30 pieces
1-2 quarts of Vegetable Oil (Peanut or Soybean are best)
1 12-ounce bottle Beer
1 1/4 cups Flour
1 (3 1/2-ounce) tin Shredded Coconut Mango or Peach Chutney, for dipping
Up to a day before the party. Pour the Flour into a medium-sized bowl.
Using a wire whisk, beat in the Beer, a little at a time, until you have a smooth Batter.
Put the rest of the Flour in a plastic bag.
Put the Coconut in a small dish.
Put the pieces of Fish or Chicken in the bag with the Flour, and shake to coat them.
Dip each piece in the batter, then in the Coconut.
Set them on a plate covered with Waxed Paper as you work.
When you have finished coating all the Fish or Chicken, cover the plate and refrigerate until needed.
At least 15 minutes before you are ready to cook, pour the Oil in the Fryer and set the temperature gauge at 400 degrees.
Put the Chutney in a small bowl with a spoon, and set the bowl on the serving platter.
When you are ready, place a few pieces of the Fish or chicken in the wire basket that came with the fryer, and lower them into the Oil for 2 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Do not fry too many at once, or the temperature of the Oil will lower, and the result will be greasy.
Drain on paper towels, put them on the platter, and serve.
  Copyright 2002 Eddy Robey
Excerpts from It's Not Just Chicken Soup.
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