Crispiest beer battered hake with homemade mayonnaise (picture by Tasha Seccombe)

Sometimes life takes you on a bumpy ride. Not serious stuff, but enough to make you need a hug at the end of the day. Like breaking down on the highway in mid morning traffic. Or getting a massive bill for unforseen medical costs. Or finding out your fridge has stopped working, and the warranty has expired a week ago.

In times like these, I like to escape to my “happy place”: a sunny, windless day somewhere on the Garden Route coastline, enjoying a simple, fresh seafood lunch with my darling husband, sipping lots of crisp cold chenin blanc, drinking in the smell of the waves, the sound of seagulls in the background.  A place where time has no importance.

That simple seafood meal has to be proper beer battered hake, deep-fried to perfection,  served with salt flakes, fresh lemon wedges and proper mayonnaise. I prefer my beer batter to be really thick and REALLY crisp – I mean, it should crack open when you cut it, steaming with fresh white hake within. Oh, and some crisp fries wouldn’t hurt.

So if you need to go to your happy place one of these days, you can do it at home. With this very easy recipe, fool-proof, every time. Have a nice day everyone!

Ingredients for the batter:

  • 1 cup self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 a bottle of beer (about 165 ml)
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

For the fish:

  • 4-6 medium-sized fresh fish fillets (I used hake), scaled, cleaned and deboned by your fish monger (cut thicker portions in half to make sure it cooks evenly)
  • 500-750 ml cooking oil, for frying


  1. Heat oil (about 3-4 cm deep) in a heavy based pot on medium heat until it reaches around 160 degrees Celsius on your thermometer (for electrical stove top heating, use heat setting 4 out of 6)
  2. To make the batter, mix the self-raising flour with the beer and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Take one piece of hake fillet at a time, dust lightly with self-raising flour, then dip thoroughly in batter and immediately into the heated oil. Work carefully with the oil as it will splatter. After about 2 minutes, turn the fish with a slotted spoon and fry on the other side untill golden and crispy (takes about a minute). Remove from oil and drain on kitchen paper.
  4. Serve with mayonnaise.

Ingredients for mayonnaise:

  • 1 whole free range egg, as fresh as you can get
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) sunflower oil


  1. In a cup, using a handheld stick blender, blend the egg, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper.
  2. Now add the oil in a very thin stream, while blending continuously. When all the oil is blended into the mixture, you will have a thick, pale mayonnaise. It will keep well in the refrigerator for about a week, covered.


This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Pictures: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius, Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe.

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  1. Looks simply delicious! Pure comfort food. Previous attempts to make my own battered hake have been total flops – usually more crumbling batter left in the oil than on my fish. Never tried beer batter before – will give it a shot – cause yours looks absolutely perfect!

    1. Thanks so much! I have also failed terrible at other batters, but this one is a winner. You’ll never look back! Also try substituting the beer with soda water for a tempura batter – just as delicious!

      1. Excellent! Will keep that in mind!

  2. I assume the other half of the beer is for the chef? What type of beer do you normally use?

    1. Yup, your assumption is correct. I used Windhoek Lager for this batter, but you can use pretty much any kind of standard beer. Whatever you’re drinking!

  3. I like your description of how the batter cracks open…now that is crispy.

    1. Yup, I like it super crispy. You can actually “knock” on the fried batter and it will make a hollow sound. Makes me very happy. 🙂

  4. […] wine with grass and passionfruit aromas. With this wine I would suggest a seafood dish like my beer-battered hake with homemade mayonnaise. Fresh hake is easy to find in most supermarkets, and the fishmonger should even be able to fillet […]

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