Classic beer-battered fish and chips
Preparation: 20 mins (plus about 60 minutes to soak the chips and drain the batter)
Cooking time: 20 mins
Sometimes the simplest dishes are the hardest to get right. This method for the classic fish and chips will give you perfect results every time.
4 large Russet Burbank potatoes, or other floury potato (about 1 1/2 kg)
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour (plus 1/2 cup extra for dusting)
1 bottle beer (375ml), chilled
About 2L vegetable oil, for deep-frying salt, for seasoning
4 large flathead fillets (about 125g each)
salad greens, lemon wedges and tartare sauce, to serve
For the chips
1. Peel the potatoes and cut into thick chips. Soak in cold water for 30 minutes. Drain and transfer to a pot with two litres of fresh cold water and add the white vinegar. Bring to a low simmer, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain the chips and arrange on a baking tray. Dry the chips in a low oven (about 60C, fan-forced) for 30 minutes.
2. For the beer batter, combine 1 1/2 cups of flour with the beer and stir to combine to a thick batter. Don't mix the batter too much. A few lumps is fine. Rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
3. Heat the oil to 200C and fry the chips in batches for three minutes each, allowing the oil to return to temperature between batches. Drain the chips on a wire rack or absorbent paper, uncovered for 20 minutes. You can freeze the chips at this point for frying later.
4. When ready to serve, fry the chips again at 200C for a further three minutes until golden brown. Toss the chips with plenty of salt and keep warm in the oven while you cook the fish.
For the fish
5. Reduce the heat of the oil to 180C. Dust the flathead fillets lightly with the reserved flour and dip into the batter. Shake off any excess batter and fry the fish for about four minutes until the batter is golden. Drain on a wire rack and season with salt.
6. Serve the fish and chips with wedges of lemon, tartare sauce and an undressed crisp green salad.
Pan-roasted ling with sweet potato chips and avocado yoghurt
Preparation: 10 mins
Cooking time: 15 mins
Don't think of this as just a healthy version of fish and chips. It's a delicious dish in its own right. The secret is the avocado yoghurt; it works perfectly with both the fish and the sweet potato chips. Try it once and next time you might find yourself craving this instead of the battered version.
For avocado yoghurt
1/2 cup Greek yoghurt
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 tsp honey
1 tbsp finely chopped chives
2 medium kumara (orange-fleshed sweet potato)
2 tbsp olive oil
4 thick ling fillets (about 150g each), or other firm white fish
salt and pepper
dill sprigs and lemon wedges, to serve
1. For the avocado yoghurt, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and blend with a stick blender to a smooth puree. Season with salt, stir through the chives and set aside.
2. Heat your oven to 180C fan-forced. With a vegetable peeler or mandolin, peel the sweet potatoes lengthways into long, thin strips. Place some baking paper in a large oven tray and brush the paper with a little olive oil. Lay the potatoes in a single layer on the paper and brush with more oil. Bake in the oven for eight to 10 minutes, removing the chips as they turn brown. Season with salt and set aside uncovered for a few minutes to crisp.
3. Heat a frypan with a heat-proof handle over high heat. Brush the fish with the remaining oil and fry for three minutes on one side (cooking time will depend on the thickness of the fillets). Turn the fish over and transfer the pan to the oven for three minutes to cook through. Remove from the oven and rest the fish for a few minutes before serving.
4. Scatter the fish with dill springs, and serve with the sweet potato chips, avocado yoghurt and lemon wedges.
Sichuan fried fish and potato straws
Preparation time: 15 mins, plus 30 minutes waiting time
Cooking time: 8 mins
In Chinese cooking potatoes are often stir-fried and eaten with rice. This easy stir-fry could be considered as a kind of fish and chips, but the similarity doesn't end there. This method is also delicious when the potato straws are deep-fried first into tiny French fries.
2 large waxy potatoes (about 600g total)
400g firm white fish, such as ling, snapper or blue-eye, cut into 2cm cubes
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
2 tbsp potato flour, or cornflour
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
5 dried red chillies, seeds removed and sliced
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp castor sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1. Peel and slice the potatoes into very fine straws or matchsticks. Soak in cold water for 30 minutes* and drain well just before cooking.
2. Combine the fish with one tablespoon of soy sauce and the Shaoxing wine. Set aside for 10 minutes, then toss lightly in the potato flour.
3. Heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil in a wok over high heat and fry the fish for about two minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the wok and set aside. Brush out the wok to remove any burnt flour.
4. Heat the remaining vegetable oil in the wok and add the Sichuan peppercorns and chillies, tossing for just a few seconds until fragrant. Add the drained potato and toss the coat in the oil. Add the remaining soy sauce, castor sugar and salt and toss for about four minutes until the potato softens. Add the fish back into the wok and drizzle over the sesame oil, tossing for a further minute.
5. Scatter with spring onions and serve with steamed rice.
* Soaking removes excess starch and stops the potato straws from sticking together and becoming gluggy when they are cooked.