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oven baked fish and chips

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Baked fish and chips

What? Baked fish and chips? That’s an imitation, a poor tribute band to the proper chippie. Like courgetti (don’t set me off there). Like tofu sausages. Like lumpfish caviar and stevia. Like chia seeds instead of butter (sic, apparently).

If you consider a product too fatty/calorific/contains meat/dairy/whatever - just don’t eat it, or eat less of it. All that substitution malarkey makes me so weary. A cake with stevia for sugar, mashed bananas for butter and chia for eggs (sic, again) will be an entirely different product than the original cake with butter, eggs and sugar. And even though it might be all right, I do doubt it will be as enjoyable.

The same goes for baked fish and chips. The real McCoy, when fried in clean fat and at the correct temperature, should not absorb grease at all but only the fried flavour. Should we send it straight to the calorific and unhealthy hell? Calorific possibly, but I’d debate some aspects of unhealthy, especially considering the recent fat vs health debates. Personally I’ve always thought that as sugar consumption will not turn anyone into a sweetie-pie if they’re sour by nature, likewise fat does not jump straight onto your hip bones via the gut. Still, batter, potato chips and all do not the lightest of meals make so my view is: have the real thing - occasionally.

And where’s the ‘but’? Surely a ‘but’ must follow now, saying ‘but wait till you try my baked fish and chips’?

No actually, it doesn’t. The baked fish and chips (which I spotted on NY Times Cooking) is all right, plus you’re not stinking out the kitchen or splattering everything in grease and plugging the sink with oil. But don’t expect it to for ever replace your deep fried haddock or cod in crispy batter.

oven baked fish and chips

Servings: 2Time: about an hour and a half

INGREDIENTS

  • 300- 400g fresh haddock, hake, pollock or cod, skinned
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs (or ordinary dried white breadcrumbs)
  • a few sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped
  • plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • 2-3 large white potatoes, King Edward or similar


METHOD

1. Sprinkle the fish with salt and chill for about half an hour, to firm up. Rinse and pat dry. Cut the fish into 3-4cm wide strips, they should be roughly the size of fish fingers.

2. Heat up 2 tbsp. of oil in a frying pan and add the panko breadcrumbs with the thyme leaves. Toss and stir for about 5 minutes until they are golden and toasted. Tip them out into a large shallow bowl or a plate.

3. In another bowl beat the egg with the mustard. Prepare the third bowl or plate with the flour, for dredging.

Preparing fish in breadcrumbs

4. Using your hands and/or two forks, dredge each piece of fish through the flour to cover it completely, then roll it about in the egg mix to cover, and finally toss around in the breadcrumbs. Place the crumbed fish on a plate lined with paper towels and chill until ready to cook.

Fish in panko breadcrumbs

5. Preheat the oven to 240C/500F/gas 9. Prepare two baking trays and an oven-proof wire rack to place over one of the trays, to cook the fish on. Put the other baking tray, for the chips, in the lower part of the oven to heat up.

6. Prepare the chips: wash the potatoes, leave the skin on and cut them into 1cm thick sticks. Toss with about 2 tbsp. of oil in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. When the tray is really hot, tip the chips onto it, ideally in a single layer, and bake for 15-20 minutes, tossing them halfway through, until slightly golden and starting to crisp up.

7. Oil the wire rack for the fish, place the fish on the rack and bake in the upper part of the oven for 15 minutes. It will colour only slightly in places. By that time the potatoes should also be ready and crisp, so serve immediately, with cooked green peas, mayo, ketchup or tartare sauce on the side.

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