Monday, March 24, 2008

Fish and Chips

Lifting one’s clear voice to the air is common in our house. We could probably record an entire album of silly songs. One such favorite is the oldie Fish and Chips and Vinegar. Join me in a rousing chorus!

Fish and chips and vinegar. Vinegar. Vinegar.
Fish and chips and vinegar. Pepper, pepper, pepper, salt!

Don't throw your trash in my backyard, my backyard, my backyard.
Don't throw your trash in my backyard, my backyard's full!

I cannot do the pepper, pepper part without a little head banging.

We’re having fish and chips this week. Fish and chips and vinegar. Fish and chips and vinegar and a big salad. And maybe that blackberry cobbler for dessert.

Heinz Malt Vinegar is the only way to go this side of the pond. The stuff in the right jolly jar that calls itself London Pub Olde English Malt Vinegar is just some junk from Piscataway and is not goode.

Here’s how we do Fish and Chips at Pinch:

Start the chips first because prep and cooking times are longer.

Preheat 1 or 2 baking sheets in the oven, set at 400°. If your sheet pans are not heavy duty (and warp in the oven) I wouldn’t preheat them. Just preheat the oven.

Plan on about one-two russet per person, depending on size (of person and potato).

Thoroughly scrub potatoes under running water. I don’t peel them, but I do trim the ends off and trim the long side to make a flat surface. It’s just easier to cut the chips that way.

If you have a mandolin use it. I set it to about 4-5 mm thick and push my spuds through. Or cut by hand. First cut the entire potato into 4-5 mm slices, then cut the slices length-wise into chips, or french fry shapes.

As you work, place slices in a bowl of cold water, or in a colander in the sink. Periodically spray down the potatoes as you add new ones.

When they’re all trimmed, rinse them a few times until the water runs clear. Then drain and dry on a clean kitchen towel.

Add potatoes to a large mixing bowl and toss with 2 T canola oil.

Remove one hot sheet pan from the oven, spray with canola spray and spread an even layer of potatoes on top. Toss in the oven and repeat as necessary with the second sheet pan, if using.

Roast for about 20 minutes, then flip (use a thin metal spatula if you’ve got it and be gentle). You may want to rotate the pans for even heating.

Total cooking time will be about 30 minutes. You want the chips to get a little browned and blistered. When they seem good to you, remove the pans and transfer the fries to a plate or bowl lined with a paper towel. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt and serve.

Get a basic white fish that you like. I usually choose cod, plaice or tilapia. Halibut is a fine option, assuming you don’t have issues with halibut.

Anyhoo, rinse your fishie in cold water and pat dry.

Make a seasoned flour: 2 T flour, 1 T cornmeal, salt, pepper, paprika (or shake a good blended seasoning in). Dredge the fish in the flour - both sides - and reserve.

Preheat a large cast iron pan on medium-high heat for a few minutes.

Add 1-2 T canola oil and heat for a few minutes.

Gently transfer fish to the pan. Don’t overcrowd the pan – work in batches if necessary. Add more oil if you must.

Cooking time will depend on the variety and thickness of the fillets you choose, but plan on about 4 minutes on one side and 2-3 on the other. Unless it’s tilapia. For a skinny fish tilapia takes forever to cook.

When cooked through transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Let the towels pick up as much of the surface oil as it can in a minute or two, then serve.

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