Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Homemade takeaways

Back in the September earthquake, four of the five fish and chip shops within walking distance of my house collapsed, or were damaged badly enough to warrant demolition. I didn't particularly notice the sudden dearth of fish and chip shops though, as my preferred chippie was still going strong. But a few days after the February quake, I found my usual place closed and realised there were no longer any in the neighbourhood.

I have hopes that my local chippie will re-open. It's been green-stickered, which is a good sign, though a glance through the window reveals a large amount of partially-cleaned up liquefaction. In the meantime, I have to go further afield for a feed of greasies, or alternatively, make my own.

This evening I chose to combat the fish and chip craving with pan-fried fish (p116) and potato skins with lemon dressing (p162). Close enough.

I started by getting the potato skins (pretty much what I'd usually call wedges) into the oven. The recipe calls for four large potatoes, but since I didn't have any really large ones, I used three comparatively small ones instead. While I was scrubbing and cutting the potatoes, I put the oven on and began heating a little oil in the bottom of the dish I planned to use.

When the oil was hot, I added the potato wedges, tossed them in the hot oil and returned the pan to the oven to cook for half an hour. This done, I turned to the lemon dressing. It was a fairly simple mixture of mayonnaise, lemon zest, garlic and parsley. I contemplated making my own mayo for this, but decided against it and used some bought stuff.

Next, I started preparing the fish. I'd bought a fillet of tarakihi, and since they tend to be sort of split up the middle anyway, I cut it into two pieces to make it easier to handle. The first step is to coat the fillet in flour seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon zest. Then, you dip it in beaten egg and roll it in fresh breadcrumbs. Easy. Before long I had two crumbed pieces ready to fry.

In a frying pan I melted a small knob of butter along with some oil over a medium heat. I added the crumbed tarakihi fillets, but they didn't seem to be cooking very well, so I turned the heat up a bit. They seemed to cook better on a higher setting.

When the fish were done, I drained them on a paper towel while I threw together a salad, then got the potato skins out of the oven. I'd actually made more than I realised, and wound up with quite a large plate of food. I did manage to eat it all though, because it was pretty yummy.

The fish was soft and delicious, with a crunchy crumb coating, and the potato skins were crisp around the edges, but nice and fluffy inside. As for the dressing, I could take it or leave it really - I'd just as soon have plain mayonnaise.

So next time you feel like having fish and chips, think about making your own. It's still not exactly health food - cooked with oil and butter - but it's gotta be better than deep fried! And it tastes good too. Of course, not having to cook is half the point of fish and chips, so you'll have to pretend you live in Christchurch and can't buy any!

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