"There are few other dishes that come with so much expectation and nostalgia. It's so important at Saint Peter that the fish and chips gets put on a pedestal as a dish of importance and luxury," says Josh Niland. "Gone are the days of having wishy-washy defrosted white fish in limp pale batter and frozen chips. The key to fantastic fish and chips is obviously a great fish that's suited to coating in a batter and deep-frying. Fresh pink ling is a perfect fish for battering - it's robust, has a dense compact flesh with little sinew, good amount of fat, sweet-tasting flesh, few pin bones and can be readily found. The batter is also hugely important. Having worked with Heston Blumenthal as a stagiaire, I got to see his fish and chips and was blown away by the logic of using vodka in a batter. It makes sense - more alcohol content means it burns away faster, resulting in a very crisp and delicious batter. Fish and chips would be incomplete without a good tartare sauce; our tartare, made with yoghurt instead of mayonnaise, is a much cleaner, lighter sauce." Start this recipe a day ahead to soak the chips.
- 600gm pink ling fillet, cut into 7cm x 3cm pieces, drained on paper towels
- Rice flour, for dusting
- Dill pickles and lemon cheeks, to serve
- 1.5kg sebago potatoes, scrubbed, skin on, cut into 1cm-thick chips, soaked overnight in cold water, drained
- Cottonseed oil, for deep-frying
Yoghurt tartare sauce
- 300gm natural yoghurt
- 2 large golden shallots, finely chopped
- 80 gm cornichons, finely chopped
- 80 gm drained tiny capers in brine, finely chopped
- 200gm rice flour
- 105gm self-raising flour
- 5gm baking powder (1 tsp)
- 170ml vodka (preferably with 37% alcohol)
- 20gm honey
- 275 ml beer (Josh Niland uses VB)
- 1For potato chips, heat oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 140C. Pat the chips dry in a tea towel and deep-fry in batches without colouring until they blister and small bubbles appear on the surface (9-10 minutes). Drain, place on a wire rack over a tray and refrigerate to dry (1-2 hours).
- 2For yoghurt tartare sauce, combine ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate covered until serving.
- 3For batter, combine flours and baking powder in a large bowl. In a jug, whisk vodka and honey together, then add to flours along with beer and whisk until the batter has the consistency of heavy cream. If it becomes too thick add a little more beer.
- 4Preheat oven to 120C and heat oil to 180C. Deep-fry chips in batches until very crisp and golden (5-6 minutes; be careful, hot oil may spit). Drain on paper towels and season with fine table salt. Place in oven on an oven tray lined with baking paper while you fry the fish.
- 5Dust fish lightly in rice flour, shake off excess and coat in batter. Fry fish in the oil in batches until golden brown (2-3 minutes; you may need to turn fish over midway so it colours evenly). Drain on paper towels and season. Serve fish and chips with yoghurt tartare, pickles and lemons.
Drink Suggestion: Steam Ale from Victoria. Drink suggestion by Wimmy Winkler
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