August 14, 2011

Ahoy, Mates!

Hello friends! My apologies for not getting this online last night, but I wanted to take as much care and consideration in writing about this dish as I did in making it. This post may be a bit more lengthy than usual, but I want you to get the most out of this experience.

Tonight's adventure is a beloved classic- Fish and Chips!

This is probably one of the most ambitious recipes for a novice cook for several reasons, but mainly A) Most home cooks are intimidated by working with fish and B) most home cooks are intimidated by frying food themselves. My goal with this post is to show that neither of these endeavors are insurmountable.

You will need:

For the fish:
1lb of cod (this will easily feed two to four people)
1 cup all purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
½  to 1 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning (depending on your tastes)

1 cup brown beer- The rule of thumb for cooking with any alcohol is, "If you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it." I'm not much of a beer person, so as Trevor is my resident fermented wheat beverage expert, I went with his recommendation. English beers like Newcastle and Samuel Smith's have been brilliant.

2quarts of oil- Vegetable, canola, or safflower (or sometimes I've used a combo of all three) work well. And, especially with safflower oil, the price for oil may seem like a lot. However, as long as you strain the oil after use and store it properly, you can use it to fry again.

Cornstarch (for dredging)

For the chips:
2 large russet potatoes
Kosher salt

The first thing you will need to do is preheat the oven to 200 degrees. This is where you will keep the fish warm later.

As far as actual food, go ahead and cut the fish into one ounce portions, and move to a plate in the refrigerator. Wash the potatoes slice them into strips like so:

Once you have the potatoes sliced, move them to a container large enough for you to submerge them in cold water.

Let's put the batter together. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and Old Bay in a medium size mixing bowl. Then, slowly whisk in the beer and continue to whisk until the batter is smooth. When the batter has come together, refrigerate.

Now is the perfect time to set up your fry station. Instead of having an electric deep fryer (a clunky, space consuming unitasker), I use a cast iron Dutch oven and I love it! Pour the oil in the Dutch oven and attach a fry thermometer. I also keep a cookie sheet draped with paper towel handy, so your chips have somewhere to go when you remove them from the oil. This is what my set up looks like:

Reading your fry thermometer will be crucial, because you will need to make frequent adjustments to the heat.

When your fry station is ready (and by ready, I mean the oil has reached 320 degrees), drain the water from the potatoes and pat dry with paper towels to remove as much water as possible.

Congratulations! You are now ready to fry.

Working in batches, cook the chips for about two minutes. They'll be a little floppy, but that's just great. To remove them onto the cookie sheet, tongs are okay in a pinch, but I love spiders- a wire mesh spoon with a wood or bamboo handle:

While your chips rest, heat the oil to 350 degrees and pull the batter out of the fridge.

Put enough cornstarch in a pie pan to dredge your fish. Dredge your fish in the cornstarch, dust off any excess, and dip in the batter. Ease the fish into the oil to avoid splatter (which smarts a tad bit. Just saying). Be sure not to overcrowd the pan and when the batter becomes golden brown, remove (with the spider) onto a pie pan and keep warm in the oven.

When all your fish is in the oven, crank up the oil to 375 degrees. Working again in batches, return the chips to the oil until they, too, are golden brown. Remove and return to the cookie sheet.

Sprinkle the chips with a dash of salt and your finished product should look a little something like this:

Tasty Tips for this recipe:

Where an apron. It will keep you and your clothes safe from messes.

When dredging and battering your fish, make sure you keep some water and a hand towel close by to rinse your hands.

Happy cooking and happier eating!

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