There’s nothing better than proper Fish and Chips. Cooking this dish was the first time I felt completely in my comfort zone in the MasterChef kitchen, it brings back so many fond memories of home and my childhood (and I don’t doubt it does for lots of others too!) I even brought my own chip shop paper and chip forks for the show; I think it makes it taste better.
Pale ale gives a great flavour to fish batter. I use my cousin-in-laws’ home brew iota, which gives a sweet malty taste.
My curry sauce is a take on the Chinese style curry sauce that everybody loved at the my local chippie.
For the fish:
- 2 cod fillets
- groundnut oil, for deep frying
- 100g plain flour, kept cold in the fridge until use
- 150ml pale ale, or your favourite lager
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- a pinch of salt
For the skin-on chips:
- 3-4 large Maris pipers
- groundnut oil for deep frying
- malt vinegar and sea salt
For the chip shop curry sauce:
- 1 small onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 inch piece of ginger
- 1 tin coconut milk
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 2 tsp curry powder
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp chinese 5 spice
- ¼ tsp hot chilli powder
- 100ml water
To start we need to cut the potatoes into chips (I like mine not as thin as french fries, but not too thick as they can be soggy). Add the potatoes to a saucepan of cold salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer until the chips are just soft when poked with a knife then drain. When completely dry, lay in one later on a baking tray and keep in the fridge until completely cold.
Start to heat your oil, either in a deep fat fryer to 120°c, or in a large saucepan until a small piece of potato peel sizzles and rises to the top after 5 seconds in the oil; not too hot so that the chips don’t brown. Take out your chips once completely cold and then blanch in the hot oil for around 5 mins until they are cooked through but haven’t browned. Now drain on kitchen paper, layer on baking tray and pop back in the microwave.
Now to crack on with the curry sauce. Finely dice the onion and crush the garlic and ginger. Fry gently in a glug of groundnut oil in a deep non-stick pan for 2 or 3 minutes until the mix is light brown. Add in the curry, Chinese 5 apiece, chilli and turmeric powders to the pan and fry on a low heat for a few seconds until aromatic and everything is coated. Now pour in the garlic powder and flour and slowly fry until the flour cooks through. Add the sugar and 2 tbsp water and mix on the heat to create a wet paste. Continue adding 2 tbsp water slowly until all the water has been used up. Finish with the tin of coconut milk and the sauce sauce. Use a hand blender to blend the curry, just like in the chip shop!
Now we’re ready to cook the fish and finish the dish. Clean your oil of any pieces of potato from the chips and heat up to 185°c, or until a piece of potato sizzles in 2-3 seconds. With a whisk, combine the cold flour, cold beer, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl just before frying (don’t worry about small lumps as they pop and create a lovely exploding, crisp batter). Sprinkle a little flour on both sides of each fish fillet, dip both sides into the batter and slowly place into the fryer, flicking away from you as you do. Agitate the frying basket a little or make sure that the fish doesn’t hit the bottom of the pan as it will stick. The fish will need 4 minutes for thin fillets or 6 minutes for thick. Drain on kitchen paper and keep in a low oven until chips are cooked.
Turn down the heat of your pan slightly to 160°c and cook the cold blanched chips are golden brown and crunchy. Drain and serve with your battered cod and curry sauce to dip.
Tip: Spoon a tbsp of any leftover batter into hot oil in a long stream for some lovely ‘scraps’ to enjoy on the side.