Camp Cooking: Beer Battered Whiting with Homemade Tartare

Sam Richards — 17 October 2019
How good is freshly caught fish? Make the most of your haul with this tasty beer batter and homemade tartare recipe.

Suns out, rods out. 

A lot of folks are crawling out of the woodwork in legionnaires hats now that it’s warm, spending long days lounging around in their tinnies, bodies draped like thrown towels, feet up on the gunwale, casually keeping a squinting eye on their rod tips for any sign of life. That little glob of cockle 20 feet under, wobbling enticingly in the current, is bound to produce the goods. It’s just a matter of time.

Fishing debates are heating up with renewed vigour after gathering strength during the winter hibernation. No, that wasn’t a bite, you alarmist, but yes, that is a massive school showing up on the sounder. The current is heading south-west, not south-south-west, and the wind isn’t picking up, that was just a gust. Yes, I cast far enough, this isn’t a long-distance casting competition, but no, you don’t need to re-bait, give it a sec, Turbo. 

IMAGE CREDIT: Getty Images/ from_my_point_of_view.

Ah, those familiar, aimless, disinterested debates rage on, to the accompaniment of the quiet, soporific doink of the ocean lapping against the hull and the pleasant burn of the sun on your exposed forearm, below your rolled-up flanny sleeve.

With any luck, it’ll be you who reaches the bag limit, but there’s always the risk it’ll be one of your lowly deckhands who plucks a barely legal King George from the depths. 

The damn fool, letting it flail around on the end of his over-flexed rod tip with his open hand poised at a distance and a look of sheer terror on his face. 

“What do I do? What do I do?” 

Well, here’s what you do if you manage to bring enough whiting back to camp.

Cook time: 40 minutes

Serves: 2 to 3


  • 600g of fish, ideally whiting or flathead
  • Cooking oil
  • Lemon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 150mL of Coopers Ale
  • Half a cup of flour
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 2 gherkins
  • 2 tablespoons of capers
  • Lemon zest
  • Chopped parsley and chives


First up, if you haven’t already, skin and fillet your catch.

Next, grab a bowl and, using a whisk or a wooden spoon, mix together the egg, flour and butter. It might help to heat up the butter first so that it mixes better; you can do this in the bottom of a pot on the flame, but a microwave will be best, if accessible. Finally add in the beer, bit by bit, and keep mixing. In the end you may only need 100mL or so, it’s just a matter of making sure the batter is a smooth paste, not lumpy at all. If you make it too thin it might struggle to stick.

Next, grab another bowl and put all of the mayo into it. Dice up the gherkins finely and then add these into the mayo along with the capers, lemon zest (of approximately one lemon), the parsley and the chives (about three tablespoons of these herbs altogether). Give it a taste to make sure the mix is right and then store this in the fridge.

Put a pan over the burner with a fair bit of oil in it, more than you'd use for cooking snags. You might want to don your apron for this spit-show! Grab the fillets of fish and coat them in the batter, using either your hands or a fork to dip them in. Once the fillet is thoroughly coated, place it gently in the pan. Best to not crowd the pan, take your time doing a few fillets at a time if need be. Let them each fry up for about two or three minutes on each side and then lay them down on a plate with paper towel to remove any unnecessary fat. 

Cut your lemon into wedges, and serve the fish up with these wedges and the pre-prepared tartare sauce. If you’re looking for something to add to make this a fuller meal, it’s hard to look past hot chips, whether they be home-made or store-bought. 


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