Believe me when I say:
CORNMEAL IS YOUR FRIEND
If you haven’t already, you should head down the world foods aisle (I bought this pack from Tesco) and pick up a nice big bag of finely ground cornmeal (maize) for a couple of quid. It’ll be so worth it, I promise.
Now I ain’t talkin bout big ole fat polenta. That’s just too coarse for what we’re going to use it for. And much more expensive. A quick internet search tells me that I bought my 1.5kg bag for £0.96. According to my calculations that is a total bargain!
Homemade, gluten-free fish & chips
I see on a lot of message boards people hankering for a proper chippy – and there are many traditional fish and chip shops that have added gluten-free options to their menus (some even do gluten-free nights!). I do understand – batter and grease is DAMN TASTY! However, I am trying to save money and my figure, so doing it myself is a much better option.
You will need:
- A nice piece of fish. Both haddock and plaice are excellent and cheap white fish. I tend to pay around £1.50 a piece at the Tesco fish counter. Don’t buy cod. It’s practically extinct.
- 1 egg
- Gluten-free breadcrumbs (optional)
- Some sort of gluten-free flour, e.g. chickpea flour (optional)
- Potatoes (sweet potatoes work well if you prefer)
- Spices/flavouring for the chips
- Preheat oven to 200C (fan assisted). Chop up the potatoes into wedges and use a piece of kitchen towel to get rid of the starchy stuff – this will make them more crispy. Liberally coat in a bit of oil and toss with a spoon until all the chips are coated. Add whatever flavouring you like – freshly ground black pepper works very nicely on it’s own, but I have a soft spot for smoked paprika. Sprinkle evenly and mix well to ensure even distribution of tasty flavour! Throw them onto a baking tray – the more nonstick the better – and chuck them in the oven. Now, timing varies. If you have gone for big fat wedges you will need to keep them longer in the oven, obviously. I tend to put them in for 20 minutes and check up on them. But I am a bit paranoid. Usually they start to look good after 30 minutes, and for those who like them extra crispy, 40 minutes will be perfect. But please use your own intuition!
- About 10 minutes before the wedges are done, prepare 3 large plates side by side. On the first, you’ll need the fish. On the second, a beaten egg (you may want to use a pasta bowl for this). On the third, wonderful bounteous cornmeal! If you are feeling crazy you can experiment by adding extra gluten-free breadcrumbs or flour (gram flour works well) to get a different effect. Just eye up the measurements and mix in the extra flours until you feel it’s right.
- I think you can guess what’s next. Dip the fish in the beaten egg first, making sure you coat it fully, then dip it in the cornmeal, covering as much of the fish as the egg will hold onto. You will be left with marvellous looking fish, and very gooey fingers.
- Wash your hands. No one likes a messy cook.
- Heat up some butter (use plenty) in a pan and add a bit of oil to prevent the butter from burning (you could just use oil for this but dammit, if I can’t have gluten I WILL enjoy the taste of butter!). Now heat it up as hot as you can. The hotter it is, the crispier the fish will be.
- Is it hot yet? I don’t recommend putting your finger in to test it. Chuck a tiny pinch of cornmeal into the butter and if it fizzes and bubbles, it’s hot enough.
- Once it’s hot, carefully lower the fish onto the pan. Again, the time it takes will vary according to the type and size of your fish piece, but it tends to take about 5 minutes. Don’t be afraid to leave it in for what feels like a long time – the more you trust yourself and leave it alone the more intact the batter will remain.
Fry one side until it’s crispy then flip and continue frying until you have reached heavenly perfection.
- Serve with your chips and enjoy. Don’t forget the vegetables! I like to serve the fish with a squeeze of lemon juice and some hot, grainy mustard (make sure to check it’s gluten-free first though!)
- If you’re lazy (and there’s no judging here), McCain do some very good potato wedges from frozen that are simply potatoes + vegetable oil.
- My friend has informed me that some cornmeal is ground in the same factory as gluten containing products. If you are particularly sensitive to gluten, you would be advised to check the small print carefully.