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Beer battered fish

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What can I say, I’m a sucker for fish and chips, especially at those whitewashed harbourside places along the West Coast with the nautical rope draped across the doorways and awnings. But when I’m cooking for myself or someone special, I like to take the classic, beer battered fish up a notch with simple but great ingredients, and a garnish fit for royalty.

 

Recently, when I spent a glorious summer in South Africa, I rediscovered Abalobi, an app that connects restaurants and consumers directly with fishermen from their local communities. The result is some of the freshest fish I’ve had, ever. And yes, it means you have to fillet it yourself, but how amazing is it to learn a new skill!

INGREDIENTS

for the beer batter

140 g (250 ml) cake flour

salt and freshly ground black pepper

375 ml lager beer

5 ml honey

1 egg white

 

for the fish

canola oil

4 Jacopever fillets

30 g (50 ml) cake flour

salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the tartar sauce

125 ml creamy mayonnaise

4 caper berries, roughly chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

4 cocktail gherkins (cornichons)

15 ml white wine vinegar

5 g fresh tarragon, finely chopped (optional)

5 g fresh dill, finely chopped

juice of ½ lemon

salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

for assembly

canola oil

12 caper berries

10 g fresh dill

7 g fresh flat leaf parsley

½ shallot, cut into 3 mm rings

1 lemon, segment

METHOD

HOW TO FILLET A FISH

Step 1: Hold the fish upright, belly facing down, onto the work surface and the top fin and spin upwards towards you. Using a sharp knife, make a deep incision behind the head of the fish (where the spine and head meet).

Step 3: Repeat Step 2 on the opposite side of the fish

Step 5: Lay the fish flat on the surface, gently insert your knife into the incision behind the head and cut down the spine of the fish. Allow the fin and spinal bones to guide your knife.

Step 7: Repetition of step 5 on opposite side of fish.

Step 9: Lift the tail part of the fillet and insert your knife underneath it. Facing away from you, gently tug your knife to cut through the rib bones to completely remove the fillet from the carcass.

Step 11:  You should now have two fillets from opposite sides of the fish.

Step 2: Place the fish to lie flat on the surface. Lift the fin up towards the fish’s head and gently cut downwards towards the belly from the incision behind the head.

Step 4: The head should now be semi-detached.

Step 6: (From where you stopped your slice at step 5.) Cut back down towards the head from the tail. Again allow the spinal bones to guide your knife. Step 5 and 6 have now loosened the fillet from the body of the fish and the fillet should now only be attached at the “ribcage”.

Step 8: Repetition of step 6 on opposite side of fish.

Step 10: Repeat step 9 on the opposite side of the fish.

 

Step 12: Lay the fillet flat on the surface and gently insert the tip of your knife underneath the sinew of the belly. Then, using the length of your knife facing away from the fillet, cut off the belly.

for the beer batter
Place the flour in a mixing bowl. Season the flour with salt and pepper. Slowly add the beer while the machine is running, add the honey and mix well.

Whisk the egg white to medium soft peaks, then fold it into the batter and keep to one side.

for the fish
Fill a 20 cm saucepan with canola oil about 3 cm deep, heating the oil to 180 °C. Lightly coat the fish fillets with the flour, then shake off the excess. Cover the fish fillets in the batter and gently lower them into the hot oil. Fry for around 2 minutes until golden brown before turning the fillet and frying the other side.

Once the fish has cooked, remove it from the oil and drain on a kitchen towel before seasoning with salt and pepper.

for the tartar sauce
Place the mayonnaise in a mixing bowl and add the caper berries, shallot, gherkins, vinegar, tarragon, dill and lemon juice. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.

for the assembly
Pour the canola oil about 2 cm deep into a small saucepan. Heat the oil to 160 °C.

Cut a cross on the base of the caper berries, then gently place them in the oil and fry until crispy. Drain on a kitchen towel.

Place a beer battered fillet of fish on a plate. Spoon about 20 ml tartar sauce onto each fillet. Garnish with the crispy caper berries, lemon segments, dill, parsley and shallot rings.

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