One of the best things about summer is the opportunity to cook outdoors. Everyone looks forward to a gathering at the farm—it’s just so much fun! Just picture it: all of our friends and family laughing, catching up on each other’s lives, pre-dinner cocktails in hand.

At a Cuba Farm fish fry, making food together is part of the entertainment—everyone gets their hands wet around here.

Believe it or not, we do a fish fry every single week during fishing season. We’ve been doing it for over 15 years! We enjoy a small menu that somehow never gets old—and it all starts with farm-caught fish. We are fortunate to have lots of fresh water out on the farm. Some places, you can fish all day and not get a single bite. That doesn’t happen here. 


My husband Billy has done an amazing job of preserving and maintaining the lake and its habitats. With plenty of brood ponds, the fish are always spawning—bluegills, crappies, small and largemouth bass. YUM! Once we catch some fish, we fry them and serve ‘em up with some of my Homemade Buttermilk Hush Puppies, my famous No-mayo Nutty Coleslaw with Crunchy Ramen and Sunflower Seeds, french fries, my Traditional Homemade Cornbread Muffins, and scratch-made tartar sauce. With fresh relishes, piccalilli, and a cold Modelo Negra, this is some of the best food you’re ever gonna get. I really mean that.

Our fish fry tradition is all about family, outdoor cooking, and creating memories. 

Now, about the fish. When the kids were little, we always baked or pan-fried the fish. But when we bought the farm, we decided to go all-out and designed an outdoor kitchen with a fryer in it! Now we don’t have to go inside for any reason. When I fry fish at the farm, I even use a special batter—so light and perfectly crispy. If you’re subscribed to my newsletter, you’ll get that recipe too. Keep an eye out—it’s so worth the few extra minutes it takes to make! (If you’re reading this and would like to join, click here to get started and you’ll have access to all of our previous issues plus bonus recipes and exclusives delivered to your inbox every month!)  

Fish fry

When everyone gets to participate, it’s a true bonding experience. It just brings the family closer together. Besides eating and drinking, we like to play deuces and Rummikub and swim in the lake. Kids jumping in and out of the water, getting sandy on our little beach. Eating local food outdoors, you really get to know the weather and nature. In Chicago we don’t have that many months of beautiful outdoor weather so you gotta enjoy it while it lasts! 

Yield: Makes 6 servings
Mary’s Crispy Modelo Negra Beer Batter Fish Fry

Mary’s Crispy Modelo Negra Beer Batter Fish Fry

Add the ultimate light and crispy fish fry batter to your summer repertoire with this super easy recipe. It doesn’t matter if you caught the fish yourself—I promise everyone’s gonna love it!


  • 2 cups all-purpose four
  • 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning®
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 bottle of your favorite beer (I like to use a dark beer for a deeper flavor like a Modelo Negra)
  • 2 pounds of firm, white-fleshed fish, skinned, cut into 1- to 2-ounce pieces
  • Approximately 1 to 1½ cups cornstarch
  • Oil for frying (see my fish fry tips for oil recommendations)


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients except the cornstarch. Whisk in the beer and mix until the batter is smooth. If the batter seems a bit thick, simply add a drizzle of cold water. The consistency should be similar to pancake batter. Set aside.
  2. Place the pieces of fish on paper towel and pat gently to remove excess moisture. Place 1 cup of cornstarch in a shallow bowl. Line a baking sheet pan with paper towel. You can add more cornstarch as needed when you start frying your fish pieces.
  3. In a deep, heavy pot, heat enough oil to reach a 3-inch height in the pot. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. Use a cooking thermometer to check the oil temperature. You can also use a deep fryer.
  4. When the oil reaches 350 degrees, begin preparing the fish pieces for frying. Working in batches, coat the individual fish pieces with cornstarch, shaking off any excess. Now dip the fish into the batter, letting any excess drip off. Using metal tongs, place the fish pieces in the hot oil, being careful not to overcrowd the fish. If the fish pieces touch during frying they may stick together.
  5. Turn the fish as they cook so they are evenly browned. The total frying time for each piece should be about 2 minutes (one minute per side). Remove the fried fish from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on the paper towel-lined pan.
  6. Continue with the remaining fish, adding additional cornstarch to your dredging bowl as needed. Remember to check the oil temperature between batches. You may need to reheat the oil between batches to ensure the 350-degree temperature is maintained.
Mary’s Fish Fry Tips!
  1. Use a deep, heavy pot that’s large enough to fry the fish without overcrowding.
  2. You need a thermometer to test the oil heat. Don’t skip this! You can use a thermometer branded as a “candy thermometer. Don’t use a meat thermometer.
  3. The oil has to stay at a constant 350 degrees. Canola oil is the best affordable choice for frying the fish, but you could use peanut oil or safflower oil if you like. Remember that different oils have different safe smoke points. Canola oil has a smoke point of 435 degrees. Peanut and safflower oils have some of the highest smoke points at 450 degrees. Avoid olive oil and corn oil as they both have a lower smoke point (about 410 degrees).
  4. You may want to use a splatter guard while frying the fish.
  5. You can strain the cooled oil and store it at room temperature in a cool area of your kitchen and use it again—but make sure you only use it for frying fish.
  6. A firm, white-fleshed fish works best for this recipe. Cod is an easy and reasonably priced choice. Tilapia works great and if you live in the Great Lakes area, fresh whitefish is an amazing choice!
Did you make this recipe?
Tag @blameitonbiscotti on instagram and hashtag it # BeerBatterFishFry
July 27, 2022 — Mary DiSomma