A batter slurry is described for coating food pieces so as to enhance crispness for extended periods, such as under take-out food conditions. It comprises, as a % of dry batter used to make the slurry, 97.4-99.8% by wt. of a batter base selected from a modified food starch batter base and a flour batter base. The batter base comprises a modified food starch of 10-60% by wt. of the batter. The modified food starch is acetylated, cross-linked or acetylated and cross-linked. The dry batter further comprises 0.0-1.0% by wt. of calcium lactate and 0.1-1.6% by wt. of de-oiled lecithin. Coated food pieces are par-fried and preferably frozen. The frozen pieces, once reconstituted, retain their crispness under adverse, e.g. high humidity, conditions such as those encountered under take-out conditions where such pieces are typically placed into a closed container for home delivery or take away.