Saturday, 15 November 2014

Home made fish and chips

Today's post is a very rare treat, as we hardly ever make anything deep fried. But the other day the Culinary Consultant had a craving for fish and chips so I thought why not try and make our own, and it turned out much better than expected!

I can still remember the first time I had fish and chips. My sister spent a while in North London as an exchange student years ago and I went to visit her. I think it musth have been my first time in the UK, and we did all the touristy things you do when you go to London for the first time. I remember one evening after a long day of sight seeing, we came back and stopped by the local chippy. My sister told me the Brits have this thing called fish and chips, and they put vinegar on the chips and that's really odd. I remember us going back to her student accommodation where we ate the fish and chips. After dinner we sat in her tiny little room eating Ben and Jerry's Phish Food straight from the tub while watching The X-factor. It was a great visit, but little did we know at that time that we would both end up living in this country permanently.

I have had my fair share of fish and chips while living here in the UK, but I have to admit it's usually not my first choice. The Culinary Consultant however is rather partial to a bit of fish and chips every now and then, and the bigger the fish, the better. As we live pretty much in the middle of nowhere, it's a bit of a drive to the nearest chippy, not to mention the nearest good chippy. So home-made was the only option when a fish and chip craving set in recently. I have to apologise for the photos, as we are now in the time of year when it simply isn't light at any time when I cook, and it's not like you want to keep your fish and chips hanging around until the next day to wait for daylight...

Fish and chips (serves 2):
Salt and pepper
2-3 fillets of white fish of choice (we used cod fillets)
115 g flour plus extra for dusting
150 ml beer (we used an ale called Theakston's Old Peculiar)
1 tsp baking powder
oil for deep frying

3 large jacket potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil

frozen peas
to serve: vinegar and tomato sauce

The Howto:
Peel the potatoes and cut into chunky chips. Preheat oven to 225 degrees C. Parboil potatoes for about 5-6 minutes and drain. Mix with the olive oil and spread onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Place in the pre-heated oven and set the oven timer for 25 minutes.

When the oven timer goes off, your chips will need another 15 or so minutes. During this time, cook the frozen peas and prepare the fish. To prepare the batter, mix the flour, beer and baking powder. Adjust the amount of flour and beer to get a thick batter, about the consistency of thick double cream.  Salt and pepper the fish fillets. We got better results by cutting the fillets up in a few pieces instead of cooking them whole, if you have a proper big deep fryer you might get away with cooking the fish fillets whole. 

Heat oil in a deep fryer or a large saucepan to 190 degrees C. If you don't have a thermometer, you know the oil is hot enough if you put in a small piece of bread and it bubbles away very briskly and the bread turns a golden. If the bubbling is slow, the oil is not hot enough to cook in. Also remember to always keep a lid close when you are deep fry any food, so that you can cover your saucepan in case of an emergency as oil can over heat and catch fire. Cover fish fillets in batter and carefully place them in the oil. Cook for about 4 minutes, making sure to turn them when one side has gone golden brown. This will leave the fish perfectly cooked and the batter lovely golden and crunchy. 

Serve the fish immediately after cooking with chips, peas, vinegar and tomato sauce.

The Verdict:
I've never been a huge fan of fish and chips, but the Culinary Consultant loves getting those huge fish fillets from the local chippy. I have to say I honestly thought our efforts were much better than the chippy we usually go to. Also, I definitely prefer the oven baked chips to the chips from the chippy. With a splash of vinegar and tomato sauce, they are so delicious. The fish also turned out surprisingly good. The batter was actually pretty perfect, it cooked to be golden and very crisp and crunchy. The fish was perfectly cooked, moist and succulent. I wasn't sure how well we would do, cooking fish and chips without a proper deep frier, but it did turn out really delicious, and even the Culinary Consultant said we should definitely do this again.  

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