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Fish & chips – a tradition worth sustaining

 
Sustainably sourced fish and chips © Tom Aikens / WWFSustainably sourced fish and chips © Tom Aikens / WWF

There’s something about that instant bang of vinegar that hits after you open the first bit of the bag and the ‘hot, hot, hot’ face you make as you desperately suck in air, trying to cool your mouth from that first chip; that makes fish & chips much more than a meal to many of us…

Like a lot of people in the UK, I have a special connection with fish and chips. As a kid we lived fairly close to the sea in Norfolk and every Friday our family tradition was to set out for the coast, to either great Yarmouth or Wells and tuck into a fresh bag of fish & chips from our favourite local restaurants.

Some weeks we’d hold off on Fridays and make fish & chips our special treat for finishing the long walk along the beach in Cromer. After all that fresh air you would work up quite the hunger and there’s nothing more satisfying than greedily ripping open the bag and sitting back to enjoy your fish & chips on the windy beachfront.

It amazing how smells stick with you, sometimes even more so than taste. I think it’s that classic smell, which is so pungent and aromatic that I mostly remember. And the way it would accompany us home in the car. A wonderfully simple reminder of our weekly family day out…

Nowadays I understand much more about the work that goes on behind each serving of fresh fish & chips and the good news is that with some smart changes to how we fish, there’s no reason why we can’t keep enjoying this wonderfully British tradition from time to time in a way that’s good for people and planet.

Try out this recipe for sustainable fish and chips and remember if your yet to sign our More Fish petition add your name today and show you want viable, healthy seas.

MSC CERTIFIED BATTERED POLLOCK OR COD WITH THICK CUT CHIPS

Serves 4

  • 2 Kilo large Maris Piper or Desiree red potatoes
  • 150g cut chips per serving
  • 4 litre vegetable oil or ground nut oil

Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1cm square batons the length of the potato, so they are all the same size. Wash the starch off the potato with cold running water, place into a pan of slightly salted cold water and bring to a rapid boil, cook for 1 minute at a simmer then drain and chill in iced cold water in a bowl which will cool then straight away, and will stop them cooking any further.

Dry them off very well on a tea towel and plunge into the hot oil at 140c to blanch for 2-3 min then drain.
Heat the oil back up to 180c. Then plunge the chips back into the oil until they are golden brown (approx 4-5 minutes). Then season with sea salt.

You will only have problems with the frying if the oil is not hot enough as they will not colour properly or go crispy, then they may become soggy.

When we cook the chips 3 times they will take on some of the water when they are blanched which not only helps the fluffiness of the potato, but also helps the potato being crisp as opposed to soggy. As after the chip has been blanched for the first time they have started to cook from the inside. So when the chip hits the oil for the first time they are cooking instead of being blanched. So for the last fry they will be crispy.

FOR THE FISH

  • 4 x140g fillets of MSC certified cod or Pollock fillets

FISH & CHIP BATTER

  • 300g high gluten bread flour T55
  • 0.25 tsp white pepper
  • 60g corn flour
  • 250ml Heineken
  • 15g sugar
  • 250ml Sparkling water
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 30g yeast

Place flour, sugar and salt into a bowl. Make a well then place the yeast into the well then add the sparkling water and beer into the well and leave for a good 10 minutes then whisk to a smooth consistency. Then leave for 15-20 minutes, NOTE: it needs to be whisked very well in order to avoid any lumps.

The batter is a beer batter and is best used after 15-20 minutes. Place the fish into the batter and hold it by the tail end, and let the excess drip off then fry for approx 8 minutes till golden and crispy, eat with salt and malt vinegar.

TARTAR SAUCE

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 0.75g milled black pepper
  • 10g English mustard
  • 8g-lemon juice
  • 15g white wine vinegar
  • 750ml vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 5g Salt
  • 75g Chopped gherkins
  • 75g Chopped capers
  • 10g Chopped Parsley
  • 75g Finely chopped shallots

METHOD

Whisk the mustard, salt, pepper, and egg yolk in a bowl then slowly pour the oil on to the egg yolks whisking well, keep adding all the oil, you will need to add a little water to the mayonnaise as it may get to thick. Then once all the oil has been added place the rest of the ingredients into the mayonnaise.

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