Friday, November 28, 2008

Fish and Chip Friday


Every so often, I get that craving. Yes, for fried food of a convenience variety. But not for greasy international chain pizza, not for burgers of the see-through type, not for buckets of chicken and/or fried bits that are made from chicken (or fish) but are named for parts that neither of these species possess. No commercial takeaway will suffice.

Only the local fish and chip shop will do.

Fish and chips, in theory, are quite a simple thing to make, but they are something I typically leave to the experts: those with years of beer batter know-how and a ready source of fresh fish. I had a great-uncle who used to own the best takeaway EVER. The batter he used was possibly the best I've ever had, I was a teenager and it was THE business. Never mind the amount of coaxing that acompanied my first fish and chip encounter (I was four and sad as it seems now) - a cheeseburger was the only thing I could be persuaded to eat.

And while I appreciate good battered fish, no one makes crumbed fish like mum does. Ok, fair to say that the takeaways in Waikouaiti run a close second.. anyway, since I am near to neither, I'm having to do it myself.

I do it her way and organise my prep area for easy frying.. 3 oblong bowls containing seasoned flour, the next with a beaten egg and the last half full of seasoned, herbed breadcrumbs (sometimes a little cornmeal). These (oh, and some fresh local fish) are all you need.

Peanut oil is my fish frying fat of choice and since I am sans deep fryer, I pan fry in an inch or so of oil in a straight sided skillet. When the oil reaches 190C, working quickly, I dust one fillet with flour and immediately into the egg followed by the breadcrumbs. A thermometer works wonders for getting and keeping this temperature spot on. At 190C, the fat is just hot enough to cook one inch thick, haddock in my case, fillet in the time it takes to brown nicely.

Place the crumbed fillet gently into the oil and fry until deep golden around the edges. Flip gently using a spatula to avoid splashing the hot fat. You can cook two at a time but don't overcrowd the pan and make sure the temperature doesn't drop too low. Keeping the frying temperature up is important to achieve that undeniably delicious combination of crisp crumb and moist fish. And best of all, there's no waiting to get home to eat them.

Serve with chips or wedges and your favourite beer.

Cheers!

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November 21st was International Fisheries Day. Here's what Canada is doing.

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