Saturday, 29 September 2012

The Perfect Fish and Chips

Fish and chips was the first ever meal I cooked for Anna. It’s hard to imagine a candle-lit dinner of battered haddock – it’s greasy, messy, not in the slightest aphrodisiacal. Instead, if my memory serves me right, we sat on the backdoor step and ate it on a cool summer’s evening.  Romantic enough, I suppose.

I’ve been promising to make Anna the ultimate fish and chips for a while now. I even bought a nitrous-oxide powered whipping siphon to make Heston’s ultimate batter. They’re relatively cheap to acquire and have many uses beyond dispensing batter, and if you want to make decent foam they’re the best low-cost bet.

It’s a simple enough dish to pull off. Most foodies are familiar with Heston’s triple-cooked chip method and the batter is easy to prepare, put in the siphon and charge with nitrous oxide. It’s mostly about having that one piece of kit which will provide you with an incredibly airy, crispy batter. The addition of vodka to the batter helps achieve a less greasy coating since the alcohol rapidly evaporates in the hot oil, creating a protective layer between oil and batter. The malt syrup helps with colour and taste. Triple-cooking the chips is a tad laborious so you can opt out for a quicker meal - it won't be as good though.

The batter recipe is taken from 'Modernist Cuisine' and adapted from Heston Blumenthal.
For the fish and batter:

2 Cod/Haddock/Pollock/Coley fillets (choose any meaty white fish you like)
200g Plain Flour
200g Rice Flour
4g Salt
5g Baking powder

350g Vodka
200g Water
12g Malt syrup (can be found at Holland & Barrett)

NB: the batter is enough for four fillets so simply half for two people

-Sift together the dry ingredients for the batter
-Blend wet ingredients and incorporate into dry mixture
-Pour into siphon and charge with one cartridge of nitrous oxide
-Shake siphon and refrigerate

-Dust fish fillets in plain flour
-Siphon batter into a bowl and coat fillets with foam batter
-Fry in a neutral oil at 190-200 degrees c
-When batter is nicely browned (approx. 6-7 mins) remove and drain on kitchen paper

 For the chips

4 Large Maris Piper potatoes

-Cut the potatoes and rinse the slices under running water to remove excess starch
-Place in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil
-Simmer until almost falling apart
-Remove carefully with a slotted spoon and let steam dry
-Refrigerate for at least an hour
-Fry in 130 degrees c oil until lightly golden
-Cool and refrigerate again for at least an hour
-Fry in 190 degrees c oil until a golden crust forms
-Drain on kitchen paper

For the peas

1 Tin of marrowfat peas (or buy dried and soak overnight then cook until soft)
2 tsp malt vinegar
1 tbsp mint jelly
Pinch Salt and Pepper

-Place peas in a pan and bring to the boil
-Season with vinegar, mint jelly, salt and pepper
-Cook until the peas disintegrate and you have the 'mush'

Hope you enjoy the recipe and give it a go yourselves. It's worth it purely for the sound of a knife cutting through the ridiculously crispy shards of fried batter.