Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The Best Fish & Chips

I was so fortunate to win a copy of Billy Law's new cookbook MAN FOOD at Christmas Time.
Thank you so much Billy!  This is a wonderful cook book with Billy's innate sense of humour shining through with recounts of his past years of travelling and cooking.
For many years I have happily followed Billy's blog A Table For Two.
In 2011 Billy was a contestant on Masterchef Australia and he did exceptionally well.  It was fascinating watching him perform under pressure with the relentless glare of the ever present cameras.

I opened Billy's book with huge excitement.  There was a hand written greeting by Billy with a cute bacon illustration, then I dived enthusiastically into reading this new cook book with great expectations. It certainly is a book to treasure and is all about "Dude Food" = real food with depths of flavour.

This is a wonderfully inspiring cookbook for all occasions.   Full of hearty flavours and delicate delights such as Butermilk Brined Roast Chicken, Cajun Crab Boil ( divine) through to Miso Creme Brulee and Maple Glazed Bacon 'Dossants'  with Salted Caramel (amazing).

This book is already a firm favourite in my kitchen and every recipe is  successful.

                                 "The Best Fish & Chips" sounded divine.

 Billy stated how a generous fish 'n' chip owner on Kangaroo Island shared his batter recipe with him.

This truly is a crisp batter that is so crunchy you can almost hear it crackle as you bite into it.

My hubby was watching me prepare the fresh monk fish I had purchased that day.  Dipping them in the flour, then battering them before popping them into the deep fryer.  His usual  comment "I used to work in a fish and chip shop" surfaced and he took over, reaching for the tongs and informing me they had to be fried once quickly, than a second time for perfection.

I am never one to knock back assistance in the kitchen so I gleefully let him fry the fish, the likes of which NO man has ever fried before, and set about making an accompanying fresh salad.

I followed Billy's recipe for chips and the divine tartare sauce to accompany this dish.

Ultra crisp chips


From Man Food by Billy Law

The Best Fish & Chips

1kg (2lb 3 oz) potatoes, such as Dutch Cream, Sebago or Golden Delight
oil, for frying
75g (2 1/4 oz / 1/2 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
8 (about 100g / 3 1/2 oz each) firm white fish fillets such as flathead, barramundi or snapper
sea salt flakes, to taste
lemon cheeks, to serve

Tartare Sauce
300g (10 1/2 oz, 1 cup) mayonnaise
1 tablespoon capers, finely chopped
1 dill pickle, finely chopped
1 teaspoon wasabi paste
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
pinch of salt

300g (10 1/2 oz, 2 cups) self-raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Serves 4

To make the tartare sauce, combine all the ingredients in a bowl, stir to mix well.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make the batter, put the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.  Pour 250ml (8 1/2 oz/1 cup) water into the well, and slowly whisk the flour into the water.  Gradually add a further 250ml (8 1/2 oz/1 cup) water.  Whisk until smooth.  Add the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar, give it a quick whisk and now you should have a smooth batter with the consistency of thick pancake batter.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Peel and wash the potatoes, then cut them into chips, about 2.5cm (1/2 inch) thick.  Put the chips in a large saucepan of boiling water and parboil for 10 - 12 minutes until soft but still holding their shape.  Drain, place on a wire rack to cool down, then transfer to the freezer for 1 hour to draw the moisture out.

Use a deep fryer if you have one.  If not, fill a wok or a large saucepan with oil to about one-third full and bring the temperature up to 130˚C (265˚F).   Fry the chips in small batches until they are blond and a light crust forms, about 5 minutes.  Drain on paper towel.

Put the flour in a shallow bowl or on a tray.  Take the batter out of the refrigerator and give it a quick stir before using, be gentle and try not to knock too much air out.  To work more efficiently, set up a production line by placing both flour and batter bowls next to the frying workstation.
Heat the oil up 180˚C (350˚F).  One at a time, dredge the fish fillets in the flour then pat and shake off any excess.  Dip each fillet into the batter, allowing the excess to drip back into the bowl.  Carefully lower the fish into the hot oil, deep-fry for 4-6 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are golden and crisp.  Remove and drain on a wire rack over a baking tray to catch the oil.  Sprinkle salt over the fish when they're still hot.

Bring the oil temperature up to 190˚C (355˚F).  In batches, fry the chips for the second time, for 6-8 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp.  Remove and shake off any excess oil, place chips in a bowl, season with salt and toss well.

Serve the fish and chips with tartare sauce and lemon cheeks on the side.

This is superb man food - also woman, and teenager food.
The batter and chips were super crisp and the accompanying tartare sauce was perfect.

So tell me dear reader, do you too like hearty meals or do you prefer to graze on smaller servings?

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx