Vividly describing her arrival at the coast for a holiday, a friend excitedly scribbled onto a postcard to me "the seaside air is thin, crisp and salty, which is just how I like my chips!".
Mmm, delicious! Chips, salt and the seaside... the only thing missing from that thought bubble is a piece of freshly caught fish wrapped in a thin, herb-flavoured beer batter.
Peter and I are currently travelling across the United Kingdom and we've enjoyed a couple of meals of fish and chips. Huge pieces of battered cod with chips and a side of mushy peas seem to be on the menu at many pubs and restaurants that have crossed our path - from London to Padstow and Cardiff to Bath. It's good, but not quite as good as home-made, if you don't mind me saying so.
There used to be a little place down by the promenade at Bateman's Bay on the New South Wales south coast that cooked the most superb fish and chips, but it closed down long ago, so to satisfy my cravings I developed with my own recipe and I'd like to share it with you.
White-fleshed fish have a low fat content (something like less than 5%) — this makes the flesh dry. Therefore, it’s good to use a light batter on it to keep it moist and flavoursome. If you prefer, you could crumb it, or simply dust it with seasoned flour.
To keep things on the healthy side and to minimise the intake of fried foods in one meal, I’m suggesting that we oven-cook our chips. Use either desiree or sebago potatoes for this recipe. Sebago is a good all-purpose potato and is particularly good for frying as it stays a nice golden colour. Desiree potatoes have a creamy butter flavour and a nice yellow flesh, but they are not especially good for frying. Important: prepare the chips first.
3 or 4 good sized desiree potatoes (approximately 800g)
a little peanut or olive oil
salt and pepper
Peel the potatoes and wash well under cold water. Pat dry with paper towelling and cut into 1cm chips using a sharp knife. Spread the chips over a non-stick baking tray. Using a pastry brush, brush the chips with the oil. Bake in a preheated oven at 220 degrees C for around 45 minutes until golden. To ensure even cooking, toss the chips occasionally during cooking time. Drain on paper towelling. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 2.
HERBED BEER BATTERED FISH FOR TWO
2 fresh white fish fillets (approximately 200g each)*
oil for frying
salt and freshly ground pepper
For the batter:
1 cup plain flour
up to 2/3 cup beer
1 egg white
finely chopped fresh herbs, such as chives and parsley
Pat the fillets dry with paper towelling and cut the fillets into two pieces and set aside. Make the batter. Combine the flour, beer and herbs in a bowl and whisk well with a wire beater until combined and free of lumps. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Then gently fold the egg whites into the batter mixture.
Preheat the oil in a deep pan. Working quickly but carefully, dip the fish fillets into the batter and fry in hot oil until golden and crisp. The cooking time is around 4-6 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets of fish. Drain on clean paper towelling. Season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately with fat lemon wedges, oven-cooked chips and, if you like, a leafy salad. Serves 2.
* Use flathead or whiting perhaps.
Note: this recipe first appeared on Good Things in 2011, but I thought it was worthwhile sharing again.
Tell me dear readers, do you love fish and chips as much as I do? Where in the world have you eaten the very best fish and chips? Do share your stories! I love hearing from you xo
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I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.