Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cap'n Yoby's: How I Go About Replicating a Food I Like

One will find Cap'n Yoby's near one of the bridges in downtown Longview, Washington. It's a quaint place that's been around forever that serves the best fish n' chips I've ever eaten. I must emphasize how much I dislike fish in general. My dislike has greatly eased up over the years, but I find most breaded/battered fish to be awful. What makes the Cap'n's fish exemplary is that they use halibut, not cod. I don't care how fresh the cod is, I will taste the cod oil flavor. I have found that halibut imparts very little fishy-oily flavor, and has a nice texture.

Yoby's uses a beer batter that is thicker, definitely greasy, yet also crunchy. I recently set out to attempt to recreate their fishy goodness since traveling to Longview is not possible. First, I found a recipe to use as a starting point. Why did I pick this particular recipe? After years of experimenting, I have developed some ability to understand how ingredients work, and what ingredients might be used in a recipe I'm trying to replicate. I selected this recipe because it called for pastry flour instead of AP flour. I was intrigued by this, as I know cake flour does make a difference when it comes to making a cake. I was curious to see what the results would be.

I'm the type of cook who isn't afraid to substitute, embellish, or improvise with a recipe. I know that when dealing with baking there are precise measurements for a reason, and I try to comply as much as possible. Since I didn't have pastry flour I used cake flour. I did review what the differences are between the two. Pastry flour has less gluten than AP, but has more than cake flour. I didn't feel like tracking down pastry flour, so I went with cake flour.

A thicker batter will result in a heavier crust, so I tweaked the batter thickness to find the sweet spot. My efforts were tasty in their own right, but not quite what I recall Yoby's fish to be. I need to get more crunch and find a way to increase the greasy factor. What I plan to do next time is reduce the amount of milk and increase the amount of beer as it seemed to increase the crunch texture. I'm also considering increasing the amount of cornstarch as that will increase the crunch. I don't think the eggs are necessary. I liked the texture the cake flour gave--it was light and delicate.

Overall, I was pleased with my first attempts. I learned quite a bit and have a sense of what I'll do with the next batch. Hopefully I can find some more halibut at mark down :-) When I perfect the recipe, I'll include pictures.


Charlotte said...

I don't know if it is available in your area, but I use House Autry Safood breading for my fish. They also have a chicken breading and the best hushpuppy mix you've ever tasted.

Unknown said...

The key ingredient in Capt'n Yoby's fish batter is pancake mix, not a lot but a little:

Yoby’s Batter and Tartar Sauce


1 cup Flour
2 Teaspoons Sugar
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 cup milk
4 Tablespoons Pancake Flour
1 Egg
Yellow Food Coloring

I also add a little onion powder sometimes

Tartar Sauce:

1 pint Mayonnaise
1/2 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 Teaspoon White Vinegar
1/4 cup chopped pickles
2 Tablespoon chopped onion

Mix Well.