Every now and then a girl wakes up and wants fish and chips. She may say she wants fish and chips but what she actually wants is for you to drive her down to the coast to Kalk Bay Harbour. (Are you hearing me Dear Husband?)
This is because what the girl really wants is an over-sized freshly caught hake which has been drowned in thick batter and then deeply deep fried in slightly used oil and served up with enough good old fashioned South African slap chips to put you into a coma. This whole meal must, absolutely must be served with catering sachets of tomato sauce, salt and vinegar, and it is vital, vital that the plates be thrown down onto your table by a waitress, with a gapped smile, who yells out your table number from the restaurant door and who scares you just a little. Because if you can tell a hake from a yellow-tail then you would know that Kalkies in Kalk Bay is one of the best places in the world to take a girl who wakes up and wants fish and chips.
Or, you could make them for her yourself.
Yours might look a little classier on the plate and be well drained well of excess oil. Yours might be pretentious enough to call itself an ode to that last dinner in Dublin, or it may add to itself some fabulous mushy peas, a homemade mayonnaise or even a deseeded lemon. But yours will never, sadly never ever come close. Not even if you try really really hard.
1 knob butter
300 g fresh peas
1 small handful fresh mint leaves picked and chopped
¼ cup cream
1 squeeze lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
900 g potatoes, peeled and sliced into even chips
Oil for frying
4 portions fresh filleted fish
200 g flour, plus a little extra
2 tsp. baking powder
2 egg yolks
Oil for frying
What to do
- To make your mushy peas, put the butter in a pan with the peas and the chopped mint.
- Add the cream.
- Put a lid on top and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Add a squeeze of lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
- Mash the peas by hand until they are stodgy and thick.
- Keep them warm while you cook your fish and chips.
- To cook the chips, parboil them in salted boiling water until just softeneing.
- Drain and allow to dry.
- Pour the sunflower oil into your deep fat fryer or a large frying pan and heat it to 190˚C. (I use an electric fryer that keeps the heat constant.)
- Fry in batches until crisp and golden.
- Place on paper towel to remove the oil and then place on a baking tray in a warm oven to stay crisp while you cook the fish.
- I cut the fish into thick fingers, but you can keep them whole if you prefer.
- Season the fish with salt and pepper.
- Whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, egg yolks and beer together until nice and shiny.
- Adjust the consistency if necessary by adding milk to thin or flour to thicken. The consistency must be thick enough to stick to the fish.
- Dust each fish fillet in a little of the extra flour, then dip into the batter and allow any excess to drip off. Holding one end, lower the fish fingers into the oil one by one.
- Cook for about 5-7 minutes or so, until the batter is golden and crisp.
- Serve immediately with the chips, mushy peas and homemade mayonnaise.