This is not the first time I have written about gluten free fish and chips. Since my original experiment I have managed to get both thebatter and the chips just the way we like them.
To be perfectly honest, I had never given much thought about how to make chips; I just assumed that you needed decent potatoes (you do) and you fried them, end of story. Not so – there is an art to making chips, but it’s not a hard one to learn. I picked up an invaluable tip watching the BBC food show, The Hairy Bikers Ride Again.
Firstly, find out what type of good chipping potato your greengrocer or supermarket (or garden!) has available. I don’t grow my own potatoes due to the fact that our soil goes between a slurry when (and if) it rains and concrete in the summer – not conducive to harvesting things that need digging up. Of late, I have been using a variety called ‘Red Rascal’.
If the potatoes are not washed, wash them thorougly. If the skin is manky, peel them, otherwise don’t waste the best bit of the potato! Slice the potato into chip-thick slices. Are the surfaces of the slices really wet? If so, get as much water out as you can with paper kitchen towel, unless you want the fat to boil over. Then cut the slices into chips.
Pop the chips into the deep fat fryer for about 10 minutes at 160 degrees Celsius. Remove, allow to drain, then set aside and allow to go cold. That’s the Hairy Biker tip.
Turn the fryer up to 180 degrees Celsius, then fry the cold, nearly-cooked chips “until ready” – about five minutes, but may vary.
As I mentioned in my previous article, Tommy Ruffs (Arripis georgianus) make for great fish and chips.
My rice batter now consists of a cup of rice flour, about half a teaspoon of guar gum and a cup of water. If too thin, add more flour. If too thick (you want it to cling to the fish, but not the whole bowl-full), add more water. The temperature of the water does not seem to matter too much, we’re not making tempura here. You can add salt to the batter or not – it doesn’t appear to affect the way the batter sticks or cooks. One variant is to replace part of the water with white wine.
Make up the batter, dip the fish in, fry at 180 degrees Celsius in threes or fours (based on something the size of a Tommy Ruff fillet) for a couple of minutes, remove and reserve. Once all fish have been battered and have had their initial fry, get them all in the basket together – provided that your fryer is big enough – to finish them off. The reason for batching is to ensure that all pieces get roughly the same cooking time.
If you are lucky enough to have the time and energy, serve your fish and chips the civilised way with some freshly made mayonnaise. (If you can get Hellmann’s, it’s probably the best you’ll get out of a jar, although I can only speak for the British variety.) Otherwise, salt and a little balsamic vinegar.