Fish & Chips Done 3 Ways – Part 2

And we’re back with the other 2 Chippy shop fare fried fish and chip dishes – we already did Jamie Oliver’s Fish and Chips with an Olive Tartar Sauce and we’re concluding this mini series with Kolkata Bhetki and Chips with Homemade Kasundi and an Asian-inspired Halibut and Chips with Peanut Sambal.

Kolkata Bhetki and Chips with Homemade Kasundi
This one was adapted from Kolkata Kuisine, and is as Kolkata and maach as they come. The bouquet of smells that come together when the crumbed fish hits shimmering oil brings back memories of Pujo, and finely-dressed, good-smelling people walking around giant woks of frying fish and chingri chop and basins of simmering shorshe ilish and bhaat. 

Pungent, sweet, spiced mustard and sliced onions make a great
accompaniment for spicy crumbed bhetki.
We used bhetki steaks instead of the fillets the original recipe calls for, and skipped the onion, oregano and pepper altogether, adding ground red chilli, turmeric and coriander seed instead. Also, we kept the marinating time to about 45 minutes, because that’s all we had, and coated the steaks only once in freshly-made breadcrumbs. The outcome? Perfectly marinated fish with a perfectly brown crumb, one that you’ll want to make again soon. We baked the chips this time, after parboiling them as instructed in the recipe above, cooling and tossing with a splash of oil. These were popped into the oven heated at 250ºC for about 20 minutes, until evenly golden, and tossed with a bit of salt before serving.

Marinating the fish steaks in the aromatics, chilli and spices is an important step.
An hour or so is usually good enough.
The homemade kasundi was an invention born out of necessity; I can’t think of a Bengali fish fry or chop or bhaja not being served with pungent, sweet, spiced mustard and sliced onions, since that’s the way I’ve always been served at Pujo. I do skip the ketchup though; the sweet tanginess of the mustard is more than enough. Also, having run out of my favourite Elmac brand of kasundi made me fashion a crude one from the jar of German mustard (yes, German mustard), mango jam and mustard oil (please don’t hate me too much) I had around. All I’m going to say is, Pooja, who was born and raised in Kolkata, loved it and asked for some to take home. Thank you Pooja for giving me my I’m-such-a-genius moment in the middle of all the fish frying.
For the Fish and Chips:

  1. 500 grams of bhetki steaks
  2. 2 eggs
  3. 2 tablespoons ground ginger and garlic
  4. 4 green chilli, chopped
  5. 1 teaspoon turmeric
  6. 1 teaspoon ground red chilli
  7. 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  8. 1 lime, juiced
  9. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
  10. Salt to taste
  11. 1 cup breadcrumbs
  12. Vegetable oil for frying
  • Wash and blot dry the thawed bhetki fillets. 
  • Whip together the remaining ingredients except breadcrumbs and oil and leave fish to marinate for an hour or more. 
  • Heat the oil to 180ºC, fry the fish for about 4 minutes until well-browned on both sides.
For the chips:
Use the ingredients and method for the chips from the Jamie Oliver recipe above.
For the Kasundi:
  1. 3 tablespoons prepared mustard (I used German-style)
  2. 2 teaspoons mango jam; or use a teaspoon of sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  4. 2 teaspoons mustard oil
  • Mix all ingredients until you get a well-blended sauce. 
  • Check for seasoning and serve with the crumbed bhetki
Asian-inspired Halibut and Chips with Peanut Sambal
Using the peanut sambal base to crust the fish before frying saves you
time and effort without compromising on flavour.
I didn’t really have a recipe for this one. All I could think of, at first, was to do a hot peanut sambal with a sambal terasi a dear friend had brought back from Bali (I have amazing friends who bring me food gifts from all over the world). I had to think of a marinade or crust for the firm halibut steaks we were using, that would make for a flavourful, crunchy envelope for the fish. Since we whipped up the sambal first, and it was so good, we decided to dab the fish steaks with it too, since you can’t have too much of a good thing. And since we already had some of the beer batter from the Jamie Oliver recipe detailed above, and because we had already tasted the wonderful number it does on fish, we had to use it to coat our fish.
Dusting the steaks with flour after crusting is important to seal in the crust,
before dipping it into batter for frying.
It’s important to dredge the crusted fish in plain flour before you beer batter it; we skipped this in the excitement and adrenaline rush that a fish frying afternoon can bring, especially when it’s dull and rainy outside. We baked our chips again, saving the frying for our lovely crisp halibut. I recommend making a big batch of sambal, and dividing it into two parts—one for crusting, the other to serve as an accompaniment. Both use the same peanut hot sambal base, but are seasoned differently to adapt to their respective functions in the dish. Read on for more on how to do this.
For the Fish and Chips:

  1. 500 grams of halibut steaks
  2. 3/4th cup of toasted, unsalted peanuts
  3. 4-5 cloves of garlic
  4. 1 small onion or 3-4 shallots
  5. 3 tablespoons hot sambal (I used sambal terasi)
  6. 4-5 red chilli peppers
  • Grind together the toasted peanuts, chopped onion, 3 cloves garlic of garlic, fried sambal to a coarse paste. 
  • Divide into two portions. 
  • To the first, add the remaining garlic and chilli, and grind again. 
  • Season to taste and pat onto thawed and prepared fish steaks; coat both sides. 
  • Keep aside for about 15 minutes.
  • When ready to fry, heat oil to 190ºC. 
  • Dust crusted steaks with flour and lower gently into hot oil, one at a time. 
  • Fry until brown, about 3-4 minutes.
For the chips:
Use the ingredients and method for the chips from the Jamie Oliver recipe above.
For the Peanut Sambal:
  1. Reserved peanut paste from the fish and chips recipe
  2. A splash of toasted sesame oil
  3. Chopped fresh coriander
  4. A squeeze of lime
  • To the reserved peanut paste, add the remaining ingredients for the sambal and whizz in a food processor or blender. 
  • Taste for seasoning, adding salt and lime as needed. 
  • Serve with the fish and chips.
The rains are going to be around for another month at least, which gives you enough time to fish-and-chip on a lush, wet afternoon. Do you have any favourite recipes that you’d like me to cook? Please share in the comments below.

About the Author
An incorrigible gastronome, Rupika V is on a perpetual quest to find the best food around, and will happily travel far to find it.

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