Saturday, February 27, 2010

Fish 'n' Chips

Hello Denizens of Yummiesville,

I just watched that Jamie Oliver speech again (if you haven't yet - click on the link on the post below this one. It's worth the time) and I gotta say it's moving. Moving enough that I'm going to share with you a recipe that'll clog your arteries with deliciousness in 15 seconds flat.

I jest, but I seriously only prepare this meal once in a blue moon due to the fat content. My recipe, however, is healthier than what you'll find in a restaurant, and you can make it even healthier by just using less oil. I sort of have the advantage of having a ridiculous metabolism so I can eat this stuff more often than your average Joe, which isn't fair, but hey, I'm going to enjoy it before it slows down too much.

Fish 'n' Chips a la Iain

1.5 lb of white fish of your choice (catfish, cod, etc.)
4-6 medium-large russet potatoes
3/4 cup dark beer
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 eggs
1 tbs butter
canola oil for frying
3 cloves garlic
malt vinegar and/or lemon
hearty ale

Music Listened To:
I do believe I listened to "Dancing Feet" by the Tannahill Weavers: one of the most awesome albums ever.


1. Start with the batter. This is virtually the same as what you'll find in the Joy of Cooking, but I do it my own ritualized way. Open up the beer and measure out 3/4 of a cup. You don't want it fizzy, so stir it a bit and let it sit while you do the rest. Combine the flour, salt and pepper with a whisk. Then separate the eggs, saving the whites in a bowl (one of the things you can do to make it healthier) and whisk the yolks into the batter. Nuke the butter and whisk that in as well. Lastly, whisk in the beer. Set the batter aside for about an hour.

2. Time to turn your attention to the taters. Preheat the oven to 450. Scrub them and prepare a large mixing bowl about 1/3-1/2 full of cold water next to the cutting board. Slice them into thick strips (to make them more chip-like than fry-like. And no, I don't mean crisp-like, you yank!) Set them into the cold water as you finish cutting them. When you finish setting them in the bowl, turn them so that the one on the bottom come to the top and the top go to the bottom so they get their turn to soak. In the meantime, mince the garlic. Prepare a clean towel or some paper towels and begin drying off the chips as you take them out of the bowl and begin arranging them on a well-oiled baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and garlic and (if you like) a little more oil before popping them in the oven. Set your timer for 40 minutes.

3. Fish time. If the pieces are thicker than half an inch, split them with your knife. Pare them down further if they look uncomfortably big. I usually aim for about 3"x6" fillets. An alternative, if you're feeling thrifty, is buy the catfish nuggets, which are really just as good as the fillets, but they've been trimmed away and hence are cheap and prevent waste. Get your assembly line ready: batter, fish plate, skillet with about 1/4 inch oil, and then, to the side, a plate with a paper towel to receive the finished fish. Whisk the egg whites into the batter and heat the oil on high (about 8 out of 10) Okay. Ready?

4. Frying. Okay, you're going to have to touch raw fish (I know, gross. Get over it :-p). Dip the fish on both sides in the batter so that it coats both sides and CAREFULLY lay it down in the oil. Use tongs to patch in any gaps in the coverage with more batter. Let the fish sizzle four minutes on a side, turning them with tongs until golden brown. When both sides are done (8 minutes for both sides), remove from the oil and set on the plate. To preserve the warmth, you may want to cover the plate or set it in the microwave. Proceed to the next batch of fish.

5. While you're having fun frying the fish, keep an eye on the timer. Check on the chips about every 10 minutes. You'll want to take them out about 15-20 minutes in and turn them with a spatula. Keep on checking them - if you notice them looking done (crispy and golden brown) or if some of them are starting to look burned, take them out before the 40 minutes are up! Sprinkle with salt and paprika and set them on a serving plate or bowl, lined with a paper towel. Usually they'll end up being done about half-way through the third (usually last) batch of fish. These'll be way healthier and (in my opinion) a bit yummier than restaurant chips.

6. Serve! Give yourself and your guests one or two hearty fillets of fish and a heap of chips. Sprinkle both with malt vinegar (if you can find it - it's probably in the international section) and serve with a pint. Enjoy!

I hope this dinner finds your belly well. It is heavy, it is one of the most expensive meals I make, BUT, it is freaking delicious. Also, people who eat fish tend to be happier than people who don't! True fact! Happy Lent!

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