Thursday, 28 August 2014

Tennent's Lager Battered Cod and Chips

Fresh cod fillet in Tennent's Lager batter with homemade chips

A fish supper (deep fried fish in batter with chips) bought from a fish and chip shop in Scotland will normally consist of haddock deep fried in a plain flour, water and salt batter. While I do love haddock, I've got to be honest in that personally I prefer cod (I actually genuinely do prefer the sustainable options represented by pollack or whiting to either - but that's another story for another day). Like many lovers of fish and chips prepared this way, I also like the fish fried in a good beer batter and what better to use for a Scottish fish and chips platter in the batter than Scotland's favourite lager, Tennent's.
Freshly caught cod

There is nothing better for fish and chips of course than freshly caught fish. This beautiful codling was caught from a charter boat out of Eyemouth on the East Coast of Scotland before being filleted at home for a late dinner.

Tools for filleting cod

When I'm filleting a fish like cod, I like to use scissors as well as a filleting knife, in order to remove the fins. This is of course optional. I also like to have a recyclable food bag at the ready for the bones and offcuts. Even where you are making fish stock from the head and bones, you still need to dispose of the fins and excess skin.

Note: Don't underestimate the importance of using a proper filleting knife. It really is essential if you're to do anything approaching a proper job.

Head is removed from cod prior to filleting

I start by cutting the head from the codling with my filleting knife, making a deep, semi-circular cut behind each pectoral fin, angled towards the head.

Fins are snipped from cod prior to filleting

The dorsal and anal fins are next to be removed. It's amazing how much easier it is to do this with scissors than with a knife.

Starting to remove first fillet from cod

Starting at the head end, make a slit immediately to one side of the backbone, letting the bones guide your knife and cutting always in the same direction, towards the tail. Remove the first fillet completely before following exactly the same procedure to remove the second.

Preparing to skin cod fillet

To skin the fillets, lay them one at a time - skin side down - on a chopping board, the narrow tail end nearest your weaker hand. Pinch tightly as close to the tail as you can and make a nick with the filleting knife through to the skin, angled away from your fingers. Turn the knife that it will slide over the skin and making steady sawing motions with the knife, pull the skin away from it.

Skinned fresh cod fillet

Skinning a fillet in this way is a lot less difficult than it sounds and with a little bit of practice, you'll soon be able to do it with ease. You can find these filleting and skinning instructions in much more detail (with lots more photos) on my cod recipes site.

Chips are deep fried for a second and final time

I like to make homemade chips by the three stage method of firstly parboiling, chilling, deep frying for the first time, chilling again and deep frying for a second time. You can of course use any method you choose - and even use frozen chips if you wish!
Tennent's Lager batter ingredients

The batter for the cod should be prepared only at the last minute and while the chips are being given their final fry. For the batter for one fillet, I used three tablespoons of self-raising (self-rising) flour, a good pinch of salt and simply as much ice cold Tennent's Lager as was required. You won't need any more than around quarter of a can.

Preparing Tennent's Lager fish batter

Spoon the flour in to a suitable dish or bowl and add the salt.  Very slowly, start pouring in the lager as you whisk gently with a fork. You want a smooth batter the consistency of double (heavy) cream.

Tennent's Lager fish batter

Take the chips from your deep fryer or deep frying pan and sit on a plate covered with kitchen paper to drain.

Chips are drained on kitchen paper prior to being plated

Hold the batter dish in your weaker hand close to your deep fryer. Carefully draw the cod fillet through the batter to coat evenly. Very briefly, allow the excess to drip off before laying the fillet away from you in to the hot oil.

Deep frying cod fillet in Tennent's Lager batter

The time your fish takes to cook will depend on the size/thickness of the fillet. I gave this fish three minutes before turning it to fry for a couple of minutes on the second side. The key is to watch for the batter becoming beautifully golden.

Perfect plate for serving fish and chips

This is a dish I was given as a present earlier this year. You can easily see it is fish shaped but it's not so easy to see the fish scale pattern and even a fish eye in the appropriate place. Naturally, it's perfect for serving fish and chips!

Tennent's Lager battered cod fillet is drained on kitchen paper

Drain the deep fried fish fillet on kitchen paper, as you did with the chips.

Chips are plated and ready for fish

Lay the chips in/on your serving dish and the fish fillet on top. Garnish with a lemon wedge, a sprig of basil and serve with tartare sauce.

Tennent's Lager battered cod fillet is laid on bed of chips

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