And I’m back to complete this little series of my fav seafood dishes.
Fish & Chips
This one ranks high for many reasons – there is of course the whole childhood / mom / granddad connection to it but also it was the most often ordered thing at CCI after a swim during vacations. Fried Pomfret, club fries and tartar sauce or Dipys tomato ketchup… how wrong can it get right? I still, more often than not, use White or Silver Pomfret fillets for this dish. Yes people are using Basa or Tilapia or even snappers and Black Pomfret fillets but if I need a nostalgia fix its gotta be White Pomfret. The weird thing is that its the chips club style that are harder to make… the fish and the tartar are really easy.
Tartar sauce is really simple – mayonnaise, very finely chopped onions, some fairly sharp mustard (I even use Wasabi sometimes), very finely chopped capers, some lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and a touch of sugar or honey if you’re so inclined.
The fish doesn’t need much prep if you’re buying pre-cut fillets. If you’re buying the whole fish ask for it be cleaned and filleted or you can attempt to do it yourself. I have tried that once, a long long time ago. It did not end well. Filleting needs practice but feel free to try it… fried fish will taste awesome even if its not a perfect fillet. Check this video out if you want to practice filleting. Once your fillets are ready they need to be patted dry, dipped in an egg wash and rolled in breadcrumbs. Place them on a plate, cover with cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Heat some oil in a heavy bottom pan on a medium low heat and shallow fry the fillets till golden brown on both sides. Don’t turn them too often or they will start to break. You know your fish is done when it starts to flake.
And we come to iconic fries. Club style are thick and not necessarily crisp. My moms were always crisp. Ensuring thinly and evenly sliced potato fingers, she would then rinse them in cold water, soak then in salted water for about 30 minutes, drain the excess water and leave in the fridge for another 30 minutes. Of course it’s time consuming – these are really awesome fries. Get your oil up on a low medium heat and fry the potato fingers for about 5-6 minutes. If they begin to start turning golden, you’ve gone too far or your oil is too hot. This is to only cook the inside of the potato. Take them out of the oil, drain and shake off excess oil and let cool – if you have the time another 30 minutes in the fridge. Reheat the same oil to a high heat and fry the fingers again on high heat to turn the outside crisp and golden. Shake of oil, sprinkle salt and toss to coat.
You’re good to go.
Butter Garlic Prawns
I’ve made this in a pan and in the oven. The pan wins every time. It’s decadent. It’s probably not good for you. But man is it delicious! And if you’re not going to indulge too often, you’ll be fine.
Real simple too. Thaw the prawns, rinse and dry them. Sprinkle them with a little salt and pepper. In a heavy bottom pan heat butter (as much as you want and maybe a little more) with a teaspoon of olive oil on medium high heat. As the butter starts to melt, throw in lots of finely chopped garlic and a small smattering of chili flakes. As the butter melts, swirl the garlic around. The aroma is divine! We want the garlic to start cooking but not turning brown. Throw in the prawns and toss to coat well. Then let it cook for about a minute on one side and then flip them to cook for about a minute on the other. Toss them them around for another minute or so and they should beautifully done. Set them on a plate and pour all the butter sauce over them. A final sprinkle of freshly ground pepper and maybe a very tiny squeeze of lemon before you serve. Garnish with parsley or coriander if you really must.
If the prawns are tail on (recommended) just dig in with your hands – to quote Col.Sanders – ‘its finger lickin’ good’!
I was introduced to fresh Anchovies pretty late in life but they have quickly achieved “fav” status. Tempura batter mixes are available off the shelf or you can just make your own. The tricks to a good tempura batter are actually very simple. Use cold water or cold club soda (I always use club soda), mix with chopsticks to minimize air in the batter, always sift the flour before adding the liquid, whisk the batter in an ice bath to keep it chilled, always have the Anchovies prepped and ready to fry before making the batter, have the oil at frying temperature (200 C) before making the batter. Ok enough of that, lets get to the good stuff.
Thaw the Anchovies, rinse and pat them dry. Remove the central bone if you like or leave it in (I just leave it in). Sprinkle the Anchovies with a mixture or salt, pepper and red chili flakes and leave to chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
My Tempura batter recipe is simple and you can increase the ingredients in the same ratio:
- Corn flour – 2 tbsp
- Flour (maida) – 2 tsp
- Sugar – 1/3 tsp
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Chili Flakes – 1 tsp (optional)
- Lemon Juice
- Chilled Club Soda – 200 ml
- Ice Bath
- 2 Big Ice Cubes
- Mix the first 6 ingredients in a large metal (better conductor of temperature) bowl.
- Place the bowl in an ice bath and slowly add the chilled club soda while gently stirring to make a thick slurry.
- Add the ice cubes to thin the batter.
- Season with more salt, pepper and lemon according to your taste.
- In the meanwhile your oil should be heated and ready.
- Dip cold yet dry Anchovies in the batter and fry till golden and crisp.
- Serve with Tartar Sauce or a Honey Chili Sauce or even a simple Salsa.
Hardcore food junkie,
loves to cook for his wife.