There are a lot of things that come to mind when I think of England. Tea houses. Knitting needles. Mind the gap. Dubstep. News agents. Chavs. Fish and chips. Black cabs. Quirky pub names (which I love, by the way – Bungalows and Bears?) James Bond. Chicken tikka (the irony :) )..I could go on. I’m sure not all of you out there have the same mental images that pop up in your head, but I think I can quite safely say that Fish and Chips was definitely one that figured in your list. On a side note, if Bungalows and bears ain’t quirky enough for you, check out this compilation.
I’m sorry for beating around the bush here, but my point is simple – if you’re looking for an easy fish recipe that is delicious to eat as it is simple to cook, look no further. I wouldn’t say that this recipe is purely authentic however, since I incorporated a few pinches of cayenne and paprika into the batter. The outcome – subtly spiced and gloriously crispy. An ode to one of my favourite places in the world. England, I hope to see you again some day.
Any firm white fish (I used Basa fillets) – 600 grams
Oil, for deep-frying
All-purpose flour – 1 ½ cups, plus extra for dusting
Baking powder – 1 tsp
Cayenne pepper – ½ tsp
Paprika – 1 tsp
Freshly ground black pepper – 1 tsp
A bottle of cold beer
Mayonnaise – 1 cup
Pickled gherkins – 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Capers – 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Dill – a small handful, finely chopped
Lime juice, to taste
For the tartare sauce:
Mix all the ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the fish:
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, a pinch of salt, cayenne pepper and paprika; add in the beer a little at a time and whisk together until you get a good batter consistency. Make sure it’s thick enough to coat the fish fillets. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan to about 190°C.
Pat dry the fillets with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside for a few minutes for the salt to extract the extra moisture out of the fish.
Dust each fillet with a bit of the extra flour and then dip into the batter. Allow the excess batter to drip off. Lower the fish into the oil one at a time, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the fish. Flip over and make sure both sides are cooked and golden brown.