Fish ‘n’ chips ‘n’ burgers ‘n’ rolls …

Bart Beek | VOLUME 29, ISSUE 1

Piping-hot fish and chips are pretty hard to resist … as are this classic dish’s counterparts from around the world.

Deep-fried fish in ‘fish and chips’ was introduced into Britain in the 17th century, courtesy of Jewish refugees from Spain and Portugal. And in 1860, Joseph Malin opened London’s first fish and chip shop using very basic equipment consisting of a large cauldron filled with cooking fat heated above a coal fire. Not a lot has changed since, except for the use of better oils, modern equipment and vastly improved hygiene practices.

The popularity of fish and chips spread rapidly as people were seduced by the crispy batter coating, succulent moist flesh and crunchy seasoned chips. The first London restaurant serving fish and chips opened in 1896, where the dish was presented with bread and butter and a cup of tea for nine pence. From there on, its popularity was guaranteed and still to this day we see it as a treat.

Around the world, all countries have a version of what we call fish and chips – snack-type foods that are quick and easy, delicious and satisfying. I have listed five recipes representing popular items from different countries, starting with the birthplace of fish and chips: Britain. For an amazing batter select a good beer, quality clean oil, and the freshest fish you can get.

When making chips at home select a starchy or floury type of potato and not a waxy variety. Floury types have a drier texture and will produce a fluffy chip with a crisp surface. Select from red delight, Dutch creams, King Edward or my favourite: the beautiful russet Burbank.

I just had to include a favourite snack item that’s popular throughout South-east Asia: the rice-paper roll. It’s easy to see why they’re so loved, with various delicious fillings and the ‘must have’ nuoc cham table sauce. The sauce is so easy to make and involves no cooking – you simply stir until the sugar dissolves. It will keep for a month in the fridge and can be used as a condiment with many other dishes.

The humble hamburger has become a culinary icon in the US and one could dispute whether they invented it. However, they do them well and produce a never-ending range covering all the proteins. My fish burger with chips is made from cooked fish that’s flaked and turned into delicious patties rolled in crispy panko breadcrumbs for the best coating.

If you’re in Italy and crave something a little ‘fish and chippy’ go for some fritto misto di mare. This addictive dish is a platter of bite-size crispy fried morsels of seafood that varies from region to region. It’s something quite special to share one of these platters while sitting somewhere on the picturesque coast of Italy.

I love the combination of flavours that represents Moroccan food, with the sweetness of fruits and the savoury flavours of spiced meats and vegetables. It’s a cuisine that is very popular throughout the world. I have included a quick tagine-style dish using fish that’s flavoured with some famous harissa paste and served with torn flatbread. Dishes like this are very popular and can be found in souks and markets throughout Morocco.

Those craving something sweet could try my delicious summer pudding. It combines assorted summer berries and brioche and sets overnight into a very attractive shape that will impress your guests. The Brits make this with sliced white bread, but using brioche brings the pudding to another level. Serve with a little whipped cream and the whole family will love you!

The batter is very important in this recipe as it must completely seal the fish while it cooks. The oil’s heat turns the moisture in the fish into steam, which cooks the fish and keeps it succulent. The batter should be crispy and taste great – I use pale ale in the batter, as the Brits do, and serve the fish with a side of peas, tartare sauce and lemon.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 3 to 5 minutes

Serves: 4

4 portions flathead fillets

Oil for deep frying

2 cups frozen peas

30g unsalted butter

Salt and pepper, to taste

6 floury potatoes

4 tblsps tartare sauce, store bought

4 lemon wedges

Batter

1 cup plain flour

Several pinches salt

1 cup Coopers pale ale

¼ cup ice-cold water

To make the batter, place the sifted flour and salt into a bowl and make a small well in the centre. Combine together the beer and water and slowly pour into the flour, mixing well as you go. Whisk the batter till smooth, then refrigerate for one hour.

Place oil into deep fryer according to the appliance instructions and heat to 180°C. Dip the fish fillets into the batter, dragging off any excess batter as you go. Carefully place the fillets into the hot oil and allow to cook for three to five minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Remove and drain well on kitchen paper.

To make the crushed peas, boil the peas in salted water for three minutes, then drain, retaining ½ cup of the pea water. Place peas and water into a food processor along with the butter. Pulse until the peas are half crushed. Remove, season well and keep warm.

To make the chips, peel the potatoes and cut into thick chips. Rinse in clean cold water several times, drain and dry well. Fry in a deep fryer at 160°C for several minutes until tender but still pale, then drain well. Turn the fryer temperature up to 190°C and fry the chips again until crisp and golden.

Present the fish with crispy hot chips, peas, lemon wedges and tartare sauce.

These are one of the most popular snack foods in South-east Asia – the fillings are delicious and the nuoc cham dipping sauce makes you salivate with each bite. We often make different versions at home and everyone gets to roll their own at the table.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Makes: 10 rolls

300g salmon

1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil

10 rice paper circles

1 cup vermicelli rice noodles, soaked in hot water for

20 minutes, drained

5 prawns, cooked, peeled and halved

½ cup pickled carrots

¼ cup Vietnamese mint leaves

¼ cup coriander leaves

Pickled carrots

1½ cups water

¼ cup Japanese rice wine vinegar

2 tblsps sugar

2 carrots, peeled and cut into strips

Boil together the water, vinegar and sugar, allow to cool to room temperature, then add in the sliced carrots. Steep for 30 minutes.

Nuoc cham sauce

60ml fish sauce

60ml lime juice

60ml water

10ml Japanese rice wine vinegar

1 tblsp sugar

1 clove garlic

1 small bird’s eye chilli

Place nuoc cham ingredients into a bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Refrigerate until required.

Slice the salmon into 10 thin slices. Heat a saucepan and add in the olive oil. Grill the salmon for 30 seconds on both sides. Remove and set aside.

Immerse a circle of rice paper into a bowl of hot water for 30 seconds, remove and lay it on a wet cloth. Place a small amount of noodles into the centre and top with a piece of the salmon and half a prawn. Top with a little pickled carrot, mint and coriander.

Fold over the ends to seal the filling and roll up. Wet the final edge with water and lay on its seam. Cover with a damp cloth and cling film as you roll the remainder. Present with a bowl of nuoc cham sauce.

It’s well known that Americans love their burgers and the variety there is endless. This recipe uses cooked fish flesh and gets its crispiness from panko breadcrumbs. You could make smaller patties and serve them on mini brioche slider buns for a modern twist.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 6 to 8 minutes

Serves: 4

Patties 500g cooked white fish, flaked small

1⁄3 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 large egg

½ cup mayonnaise

1 tblsp Dijon mustard

1 tblsp parsley, chopped

1 small brown onion, finely chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup panko breadcrumbs, to coat the patties

30ml extra virgin olive oil

4 soft burger buns

2 tblsps mayonnaise

4 lettuce leaves

1 tomato, sliced

1 medium jalapeño chilli, sliced

4 portions shoestring potato chips

3lt vegetable oil, for deep frying

To make the patties, combine together the egg, mayonnaise, mustard, parsley, onions and seasoning. Fold through the flaked cooked fish and 1⁄3 cup panko breadcrumbs. Divide into four evenly sized patties and roll in the extra panko breadcrumbs to coat. Refrigerate until required.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet pan and add in the patties. Allow to turn golden and become crisp, turn and do the same on the other side.

Toast the buns, spread with mayonnaise and fill with the fish patties, lettuce, tomato and sliced jalapeño.

Place vegetable oil into deep fryer according to the appliance instructions and heat to 185°C. Fry the shoestring chips until crisp and golden. Allow to drain for one minute.

Present the burgers with a side of hot shoestring chips.

Fritto misto di mare

This is a combination of deep-fried, bite-sized pieces of mixed seafood served with a fabulous sauce and lemon wedges. It’s a popular appetiser enjoyed all around coastal Italy. The garlic and anchovy sauce should be served warm or at room temperature and adds a nice kick to this lovely dish.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 3 minutes

Serves: 4

1 small squid, cleaned and cut into bite-size pieces

8 green prawns, cleaned

2 small octopus, cleaned and cut small

8 scallops

200g snapper flesh, cut into small pieces

½ cup plain flour, for dusting

Vegetable oil, for deep frying

1 lemon, cut into wedges

Garlic and anchovy sauce

100ml extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

4 anchovy fillets, crushed into a paste

1 pinch dried chilli flakes

¼ cup Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, chopped

To make the garlic and anchovy sauce, place the olive oil into a small saucepan and gently warm up. Add all the ingredients and cook for several minutes. Once the garlic becomes soft, remove the saucepan from the heat. Serve warm.

Batter

200g plain flour

1 pinch salt

80ml extra virgin olive oil

300ml water

1 egg white

Sift the plain flour into a mixing bowl and add in the salt. Combine together the olive oil and water, then pour onto the flour, whisking steadily until well combined. Whisk the egg white until stiff and then fold through the batter.

Place vegetable oil into deep fryer according to the appliance instructions and heat to 190°C. Dry the seafood with some kitchen paper and lightly dust with a little plain flour. Shake off the excess flour and dip each seafood item into the batter. Scrape off the excess batter and carefully place into the hot oil.

Allow the pieces to move around the hot oil so they cook evenly and remove once they are cooked and crisp. Drain well. Present with the sauce and some lemon wedges.

Moroccan fish with harissa, tomatoes and olives

This is a great Moroccan version of fish and chips. They love their seafood and have both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea lapping their coastline. Whole fish or portions will work but be careful with the amount of Harissa paste you use as it packs a mean punch!

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 12 to 15 minutes

Serves: 4

4 x 150g portions white fish fillets

2 tblsps extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 brown onion, sliced thin

1 x 400g tin diced tomatoes

½ tblsp harissa paste

1 cinnamon stick

1 cup un-pitted black olives

¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, torn

½ lemon, juice only

2 round flatbreads

Heat a heavy pan and add half the olive oil. Add in the fish portions and grill for several minutes to colour. Remove fish from the pan and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and add in the crushed garlic, cook for 30 seconds. Add in the sliced brown onions, toss well and cook until soft, then combine in the tinned tomatoes, harissa and cinnamon stick.

Allow the mixture to cook for several minutes. Add in the fish portions and black olives, spoon the tomato mixture over the fish and cover with a lid. Cook slowly for six minutes or until the fish is cooked.

Gently fold through the torn parsley and lemon juice, check the seasoning and present with torn pieces of flatbread to soak up the tasty juices.

These puddings come in many variations and are a great way to use up extra berries. You could make a large one and cut it up or individual portions as I’ve made here, and even add a flavoursome liqueur to make an adult version. Leave the puddings to set overnight so the flavours can develop.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Serves: 6

200g blackberries

200g strawberries, quartered

200g blueberries

200g raspberries

150g redcurrants, remove half from the stems

1 cup caster sugar

1 large brioche loaf

250ml thickened cream

2 tblsps caster sugar, for whipped cream

½ tsp vanilla extract

Combine in a saucepan the cup of caster sugar along with the berries, retaining the redcurrants on the stems and a few other berries for garnish. Place on a low heat stirring gently for five minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and the berries have released their juices. Remove from the heat and allow cool. Strain into a bowl to separate the berries from the juice, retain the juice.

Use six dariole moulds or cups. Using a sharp knife, cut the brioche into 1cm-thick slices. Using a set of pastry cutters, cut circles that will fit the bottom and top of the moulds or cups. Cut 2cm-wide strips to fit the sides.

Brush the bottom discs on one side with juice and place brushed side down into the moulds. Brush the strips in the same way and line the sides of the moulds.

Gently spoon the berry mixture into the centres of the moulds, top with the final brioche discs to enclose the filling, brush top with juice. Cover each mould with cling film, place a small weight on top of each and refrigerate overnight. Refrigerate remaining juice to serve with the puddings.

When ready to serve, combine the cream with the sugar and vanilla and beat until thick. To serve, unmould the puddings onto serving plates, top with extra berries, juice and a spoon of whipped cream.


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