I think I’ve cracked it. A (relatively) healthy version of the British classic fish and chips, hoorah!
My university days were some of the best. They transport me to a simpler time when days were filled sat on Brighton beach with friends devouring fish and chips out of vinegar drenched paper. Looking out to sea, sharing our supper and fits of laughter, we didn’t have a care in the world.
This inspired me to create a more guilt-free offering of the classic and this recipe is a pretty good effort.
I absolutely adore all of the elements to this recipe. Who knew oven baked chips could taste so good? These are not dissimilar to the chunky skin on chips on offer at all the decent gastro pubs, that really hit the spot after a couple of shandys. Shallow frying the fish does wonders to the amount of oil reduction and gives the batter an incredible lightness. I’ve opted for a simple, honest batter using just water but experimentalists can use beer or sparkling water instead. The creamy, minty mushy peas of course complement the meal perfectly.
Healthy(ish) fish and chips. Finally, I can sleep at night.
Recipe serves two. Serve two fish fillets per person for the ravenous.
Fish, chips & mushy peas
For the fish
2 white fish fillets divided into two – I’ve used sea bass but plaice, cod or haddock work well. Fillets should be no more than 1cm thickness
75g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt and ground black pepper
100ml chilled water
Groundnut oil for frying – approx. level to 1cm/300ml
For the chips
2 large potatoes, I used Desirée, peeled
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the mushy peas
Knob of butter
2 cups of frozen peas
Handful of fresh mint, leaves picked and chopped
A squeeze lemon juice
Pinch of sea salt ground black pepper
For the mushy peas, put the butter in a pan with the peas and the chopped mint. Put a lid on top and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Either mush the peas up in a food processor, or mash them by hand, as I have, until thick and creamy. Keep warm while you prepare the fish and chips.
For the chips heat the oven to its highest setting, ideally 250C/fan 230C/gas 9. Cut each potato into 1cm-wide slices, then into 1cm-thick sticks. Blanch in a large pan of boiling water for 3 mins, then drain well.
Shake the potatoes out onto a roasting pan, drizzle with the oil, ensuring each chip is evenly coated, then season well. Bake for about 15-20 mins, turning the potatoes at least twice, until golden brown and crisp.
For the fish sift the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper into a bowl, slowly whisking in the water until the batter is smooth and lump-free.
Heat the oil on a high heat.
Meanwhile pat the fish dry with kitchen paper and remove any stray bones. Pop the fillets into the batter mix and turn them over a few times to ensure they are evenly coated.
Check if the oil is hot enough by dropping half a teaspoon of batter into the oil. If the batter immediately rises to the surface and the oil bubbles around it and turns golden within a minute, you’re good to go.
Take one of the fillets and turn it over in the batter again and then holding it at either end, lay it flat in the hot oil, skin side up, then quickly do the same with the second fillet.
Reduce the temperature down a little. After 3 minutes or until the underside is golden, turn it over with a fish slice, and a spoon to help steady it, so that the oil doesn’t splash. Do the same with the second fillet and give them another 3 – 4 minutes.
Remove the fillets and drain on a kitchen paper lined plate.
Assemble your plate and season generously with sea salt and plenty of malt vinegar on the fish and chips, a wedge of lemon and a good dollop of tartare sauce.