Fun fact: Kansas City is less than 500 miles from the North American Pole of Inaccessibility. What does that mean? Well… for this post, it means that it’s really hard to get good, fresh fish.
Fortunately, as I’ve mentioned in several previous posts, there’s a great fish market here that gets fresh fish flown in twice a day. It’s not exactly cheap, but it’s awesome for those occasional meals where your standard grocery store fish just won’t do. Recently, they’ve really been pushing Barramundi as an alternative to other firm, white fish. Fish and Chips are traditionally made with Cod, but I couldn’t resist finally getting an excuse to try Barramundi (plus, I think calling beer-battered Barramundi ‘Beerramundi’ is too fun to pass up).
When I got home with my $25 fish fillet (yes… I was a little shocked, too), I cut it in half — no way were we going to eat through two pounds of fish just the two of us — and then into strips about the size I remember the fish being the last time I got Fish & Chips at a restaurant. For half of the fillet, this was 4 strips, and they actually turned out to be a little too big.
For the batter, I asked my always trusty “Good Eats” books, and this is what I adapted from Alton’s recipe:
1/2 cup of flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
a pinch (or two or three, depending on taste) of ground cayenne pepper
1/2 cup of beer, cold*
Whisk together all of the dry ingredients, then slowly pour in the beer and whisk to combine. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes (but no longer than an hour, or you start to lose the CO2) to let the flour hydrate.
* The beer I used was home-brewed by a good friend, and was a lemon-basil beer. I don’t really know my beer types, but I think it was an ale? All I know is that the lemon and the basil were perfect for this batter. Thanks, Joe!
For the Chips, I decided that I’d try what’s called a cold-fry. I’ve been historically bad with frying potatoes (into fries/chips/crisps/whatever you want to call them). In fact, I cannot remember a single time that I’ve done it successfully when using the standard method of cutting up the potatoes, drying, soaking, drying, frying once, frying again…
I am happy to report, however, that simply cutting up the potatoes, putting them in a pot of cold oil and slowly bringing it up to frying temperature worked wonderfully. Best fried potatoes I’ve ever made. The biggest guys were a little under-done, but the smaller ones were just about perfect — Crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. I will never fight with soaking/drying/double cooking potatoes again. This is just too easy
Back to the fish. Now the batter has sat (in the cold refrigerator to keep the bubbles intact) for about 20 minutes, and we’re ready to fry!
Well… almost. We need something to make sure the batter sticks to the fish. Alton suggests using corn starch, and he’s never really lied to me. So I went with corn starch. Aside from the fact that raw fish coated in corn starch feels a little weird, it was perfect! I had zero issues with losing the batter off the fish.
I just kept my oil hot from cooking the chips (it was around 350°), and fried one strip of fish at a time. While this was going on, I had the chips on a draining rack in the oven at around 200°, just to keep them from getting cold.
The last part of this process goes really quickly… It takes longer for the batter to brown than it does for the fish to cook, so as soon as your batter gets a good color on it, pull the fish out and set it on the draining rack in the oven with the chips. Repeat until you’re out of fish.
Once you’ve got everything fried up, it’s time to dig in. Get your ketchup, malt vinegar, tartar sauce, lemon, or whatever else you like to eat with fried fish & potatoes ready and eat up. Enjoy. Then go for a run.
Your heart will thank you.
And speaking of the pole of inaccessibility, unfortunately, number 32 is also going to be a little hard to come by around here. It’s a type of sushi called Ankimo. Basically, it’s the liver of a Monkfish (which is probably the ugliest fish I’ve ever heard of), and difficult to find in areas where sushi isn’t that prevalent. Unless something miraculous happens, I’ll be skipping over that one.
I’ve also had number 31 — Parma ham (or proscuitto), and I don’t think that it should be on the list. At least… in my book, it’s nowhere near anything else I’ve cooked that’s on the list. I’m going to boycott and skip it, too. So, next up is going to be number 30. Make sure you come back later this week for Goi Cuon!