The Lake Erie Monster 4.000

Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

Jul 11, 2016

This is chef Matt Fish's homage to the fish fries he went to on Friday nights with his grandparents while growing up in Cleveland. Although combining cheese and fish generally is considered a no-no in culinary circles, the Lake Erie Monster is like an elevated Filet-O-Fish, sandwiching crispy beer-battered fish with gooey cheese and a spicy jalapeño-spiked tartar sauce.

The sauce recipe calls for seeding the jalapeños, but you can amp up the flavor by adding some seeds back into the sauce for an additional hit of heat.

Although the chef likes to make the sandwich with local Great Lakes seafood such as walleye or perch, when available, he typically makes it with cod at his Cleveland area restaurants; other options could include tilapia or snapper.

You’ll need an instant-read thermometer for monitoring the fish-frying oil.

Make Ahead: The jalapeño tartar sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • For the sauce
  • 1/2 cup pickle chips
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 2 cups regular or low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Scant teaspoon finely grated zest plus 1 1/2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 medium jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced (1/2 cup; see headnote)
  • For the sandwiches
  • 3/4 cup flour, plus 1/2 cup for coating the fillets
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup Guinness stout
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • Oil, for frying (about 3 cups)
  • Four 4-to-6-ounce cod fillets (or other firm white-fleshed fish)
  • 8 slices thick white bread, such as Texas toast, lightly toasted
  • 16 slices American cheese


For the sauce: Combine the pickle chips, onion, capers and garlic in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped, then drain off any excess liquid. Transfer the chopped ingredients to a mixing bowl.

Add the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon zest and juice, black pepper, dill and sugar; whisk until well incorporated, then fold in the jalapeños. The yield is 2 cups. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use (up to 2 weeks).

For the sandwiches: Combine the 3/4 cup of flour, the salt, pepper, chili powder and baking powder in a mixing bowl, whisking until combined.

Whisk together the eggs, stout and buttermilk in a liquid measuring cup, then add to flour mixture, whisking to form a smooth batter.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with paper towels, then seat a wire cooling rack on top.

Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat to 350 degrees.

Rinse the fish fillets in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup of flour on a plate.

Coat the fillets with the flour on both sides, shaking off any excess. Working with a few at a time, dip the floured fillets into the batter so they are fully coated, then immediately lay them in the oil. Fry for about 3 minutes on each side or until the batter has browned and the fish is opaque and cooked through. Use a slotted spatula to transfer the fillets to the rack. Discard any remaining batter.

Meanwhile, place the toasted bread slices on a baking sheet. Lay two slices of the cheese on top of each piece of bread, overlapping as needed. Bake for about 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

Place a fried fillet on four of the toast slices, then spoon on a generous dollop of the jalapeño tartar sauce. Top with the remaining cheesy toast slices. Serve right away.

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Recipe Source

From Matt Fish, chef-owner of Melt Bar & Grilled in Cleveland.

Tested by Kristen Hartke.

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