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Good day folks.
Welcome back to another edition of Sunday Gravy.
We’ve got a quick, easy and pretty damn delicious menu for you today and the best part is…we get to cook with beer!
Hopefully I didn’t scare away too many folks with my dalliance with veal. I know some people are sensitive to that type of thing. Today I will make amends by preparing a meal that even vegetarians can eat. For today we are making fish and chips. At home. And we have a special bonus recipe: hush puppies! You regular readers may remember that we’ve made hush puppies before when I made a batch of lentil soup. The recipe’s the same but I’ll give a quick ingredient breakdown of it anyway.
First though how did it get decided that fish wasn’t meat? I know the Catholics practice meatless Fridays but they can still consume fish. I have a niece who claims to be vegetarian but eats fish and shellfish. Isn’t the flesh of any animal considered meat?
I’m not here to belittle anyone’s spiritual belief systems or ethical decision making skills but personally I consider fish as meat. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t eat as much of it.
I only bring this up because I know of no person who doesn’t enjoy fish and chips. If you visit a restaurant or pub for the first time and see fish and chips on the menu isn’t that your food choice? If you notice a couple of items and can’t decide on which don’t you always just say “Fuck it, give me the fish and chips?” Or is that just me?
Fish and chips date back to as early as 1860 when a Jewish immigrant, Joseph Malin opened a fish and chips shop in East London. Fried fish dates back even earlier as Jewish immigrants from Portugal and Spain introduced fried fish to London. It is believed that Joseph Malin’s shop is the first to marry the chips with the fried fish*
Regardless of origin everyone loves a hot, crispy, greasy pile of fish and chips. Serve alongside a delicious frosty beer and life is pretty goddamn good. The hush puppies are an American Southern creation and I find they pair really fucking well with the fish and chips.
Fuck it, let’s do this damn thing!
A quick note of caution before we get going: Frying fish in a hot batch of oil inside of a closed kitchen WILL most definitely leave a lingering odor that will need to be exorcised from your house less the entire neighborhood feral cat community decides you are ground zero for their new clubhouse.
Fish and chips!
Potatoes – I used your basic russet potato – 1 per person.
1 and 1/2 pounds of fresh fish fillets cut into about 6-7 ounce portions. You want a firm white fish for these. I found some fresh Pacific cod at my local grocery store. You can also use haddock, pollack or Tilapia for these.
1 gallon of cooking oil. I used canola.
For the fish:
1 cup of all purpose flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/2 cup of corn starch
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
dash of Old Bay seasoning *optional
1 bottle of dark beer – use Guinness extra stout if possible
Go ahead and peel them spuds. We want these to soak for awhile. You can do this about an hour in advance if you want. Cover with enough water to cover the potatoes by about an inch.
If you have 2 pots big enough to fry in, use them both. Pour equal amounts of oil in each. If you only have one frying vessel do the first cook of the potatoes, then the fish, then the second cook of the potatoes. You can cook the hush puppies first and keep them warm in a 200 degree oven but I’m getting ahead of myself. If you have the two pots you can cook the fish in one and finish the chips in the other thus ensuring each dish is hot at the same time.
After soaking we want to pre-cook the potatoes for a few minutes to ensure the middle of the chips are cooked. Heat the oil to about 325 degrees. Drain the potatoes and cook in the hot oil for about 3 minutes. We’re not browning here just cooking until the potatoes are a little “floppy.”
Insert your favorite dick joke here.
Remove the pre-cooked fries to a plate covered with a paper towel to drain.
Now let’s get busy with the fish.
In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, half of the salt, the cayenne, and Old Bay and whisk together. Next remove two bottle of beer from the refrigerator.
Open the first and drink.
Pour the second beer into the dry ingredients and whisk again to form a fairly thin batter. Be sure to mix well. You want to refrigerate this batter for at least 20 minutes before battering the fish. You can refrigerate for up to an hour beforehand.
When mixed the batter should look like this.
Remove a third beer from the fridge and consume that. Don’t get too fucking crazy here because we’re cooking with some hot-ass oil. Don’t deep fry a hand or anything. You can use another type of beer besides Guinness, including your on-hand American macro-beer but Guinness instills a rich malty finish to the batter that just works.
Heat the oil to 350.
Now take the corn starch and place into a bowl. Season the fish fillets with a little salt then dredge each fish fillet in the corn starch to coat. This is a pretty important step since it will keep the wet batter from falling off the fish while it’s frying.
Take one of the coated fish fillets and dip in the wet batter just prior to going into the oil. Important step, dredge in the batter JUST before putting the fish in the oil. Use a pair of tongs and kind of swirl the fish gently as you lower it into the oil to set the batter before dropping the fish completely in the oil.
Additional important note! Use a non-stick pot for the frying or be sure your cast iron Dutch oven is well seasoned, otherwise the fish will stick to the bottom of the pot and you will lose the lovely batter when attempting to remove the fish.
Yep, this fucker is going to be a pretty fierce boil so exercise caution.
The fish will cook for about 4-5 minutes depending on the size of each fillet. Cook until you achieve a nice golden brown.
The above photo is to demonstrate what happens if you cook the fish in a cooking vessel that is NOT non-stick.
Now look at the banner photo again.
That’s after switching to a non-stick pan for frying. Much, much better.
When the fish has been cooked, remove the fish fillets to a cooling rack to help drain the oil. You can use the paper towel on the plate thing but your batter may stick to the paper towel. Now drop those pre-cooked
fries CHIPS you dumbass back into the oil and cook until crispy, browned and delicious.
You can whip up a quick tartar sauce with some mayo, sweet pickle relish and a dash of onion powder as a base
or you can be more traditional and use malt vinegar. Being your typical heathen American I’m not that crazy about malt vinegar and could think of no additional applications for it. Besides there is, as mentioned before, a nice malty kick from the Guinness in the batter.
Plate some chips, put a slab or two of the fish on top, grab as many beers as your arms can carry and get fucking busy.
If you are in need of some additional fried food items you can also make hush puppies.
1/2 cup of self rising flour – yes, self rising.
1/2 cup of cornmeal.
1 tablespoon of sugar.
1/2 onion minced fine.
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
Salt to flavor after the puppies have been cooked.
1 egg beaten.
1/4 cup of whole milk – actually start by adding milk until reaching the desired consistency. I’m just saying it was about 1/4 cup.
Mix together the dry ingredients.
Then add in the eggs and milk and whisk to make a smooth batter.
Now stealing directly from the above linked post where we already made hush puppies, using a couple of spoons form the batter into a ball-ish(?) shape.
Then drop into the hot oil.
We made these first and kept them warm in the oven as mentioned above.
Notice the puppies are draining on a paper towel.
Despite the fact that we are cooking fish, which is high in Omega 3 fatty acids, this is obviously not going to be the healthiest preparation method for fish. It will however be delicious as a motherfucker. If I wanted a healthy fish presentation I would have made sushi dammit.
There’s something entirely satisfying about a good plate of fish and chips. You take that first bite and you get a nice crunch from the crispy batter, you may even get a little residual bit of oil trickling down your chin. Then you grab a chip and maybe dip that bastard in some tartar sauce. This is followed by a long slow drink of a cold delicious beer. Let’s grab one of those salty, crunchy, savory hush puppies next. Oh God, that little fucker is good too.
Delicious, easy, comforting and a perfect excuse to pound down as many beers as you are able.
Try this one folks.
But do open the windows.
The cats can find another clubhouse.
Thanks for reading.