Battered or Breaded? Which is the Best Option for Seafood

This is a question that we get asked a lot… What method, battered or breaded, is the best option for seafood? 

Well, when faced with this conundrum, it’s best to rely on how the fish or shellfish will be cooked and not so much the outer coating. 

 

Why do we batter or bread seafood in the first place? 

Batters and breading certainly serve a purpose. Not only do they add fun texture and flavor but they also provide protection. 

Most seafood is relatively delicate. And, some cooking methods are pretty aggressive if you think about it. High heat, bubbling oil, and simmering liquids could easily break apart fish or cook shellfish too quickly. Coating fish or shellfish in a batter or breading allows for a more gentle, internal, cook. Letting the protective outer layer, whether that’s a breading or a batter, to bear the brunt. 

 

What is the difference between a batter and a breading? 

Batter 

A batter is a wet combination of ingredients (think tempura or beer battering). Typically a mixture of dry starchy ingredients; flour, cornstarch, baking soda, etc.. are whisked with a series of liquids and binders; eggs, beer, buttermilk, club soda, etc… The seafood is either patted dry with towels or lightly dusted with starch, then dipped into the batter to coat. 

 

Breading

Breading is a series of multiple layers. The first layer, usually flour, is used to create a dryer surface, helping all the remaining layers to stick to the surface of the seafood. The second layer, usually eggs or dairy, is the binder. It creates that sticky surface, holding on to the seafood as well as the final layer…’the crunch factor’. This last layer is, or can be, additional flour, breadcrumbs, cornmeal, crackers, cereal, or nuts, all ingredients that’ll ‘crisp up’ when cooked. 

 

When do I use batter? 

Batters should be used, almost exclusively, for deep frying seafood. Batters are great at protecting delicate seafood (tilapia, flounder, cod, or catfish) and preventing shellfish (shrimp or lobster) from overcooking. Batters can range in crisp from tempura (the crunchiest) to beer battered (not so crunchy). 

Breaded seafood is not the greatest in a deep fat frying capacity. All those small bits of sloughed off breading can cloud up the fryer, burning and adhering to other pieces, especially if you’re frying in multiple batches. You don’t really have that clouding up issue with batters. 

 

When do I use breading? 

Breading is the perfect solution when you are baking, oven-frying, or shallow pan-frying seafood. These cooking methods are not as intense as deep frying, making it less likely to loose any of your breading. And, resulting in a super crispy crust. Breading is the go-to for optimum crisp and is all-seafood friendly too. 

 

Ready to get cooking? 

Then it is time to stock up seafood? Cameron’s Seafood has all the delicious fish and shellfish needed to batter or bread till your hearts content! Click the link to explore more…

Do you have a favorite battered or breaded seafood recipe or tip that you would like to share? We’re always looking for new and innovative ways to cook our seafood. Post your images or recipes on any of our social pages. We can be found @cameronsseafoodonline on Instagram or @CameronsSeafood on Facebook.

About the author

Patterson Watkins is a professional chef with over 17 years of experience. With a robust career in restaurants, contract dining and catering (including 4 Summer Olympic posts preparing food for the athletes!) Patterson joined the Cameron’s Seafood team at the end of 2018 to concoct some delicious recipes with our premium seafood items as the centerpiece.

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