Last night was not what I had had in mind. I had worked all day and thought I would have a nice quiet evening. My husband was not going to be around; just me and the kids. Well, my friend Lisa called and put an end to that! There was a noisy event taking place in her town last night, and, rather than sit there boiling mad because she couldn’t hear herself think or for that matter get to sleep, she sensibly planned to get out of town and come to my house!
We decided that drinking should take priority over cooking for a change so she volunteered to pick up some pizzas on her way here, with her husband and son. After our phone call I started to think about some little thing I could cook before the pizza? I don’t know what compels me to cook every evening, but, I invariably spend a part of it over the stove. It must be my medicine and, I take it diligently.
I thought about a salad, a vegetable side dish, even a soup, but, nothing was grabbing me. Fish came to mind and I racked my brain for something that we could just pick up and eat with our fingers? I decided on small pieces of battered fish with some sort of sauce. I wanted something like tartar sauce, but not tartar sauce!
A few weeks ago my husband bought an enormous tub of mayonnaise to make a sandwich! I never use the stuff and asked “why so big?” “On sale” was his reply. I was then stuck with an ingredient that was going to take up tons of room in my already crammed fridge! Thinking on the lines of a tartar sauce I was sure I could come up with something a bit more interesting , while also putting a dent in my mayonnaise supply?
I didn’t want complicated so I used it as a base to make a “smokey tartar sauce”. Chipotle peppers was my smokey element and it was terrific with the crispy on the outside and break-apart-lovliness on the inside of the battered cod fish. It was so good that the pizza was an afterthought. Even Lisa’s son Lucas who claimed to hate fish dove in and gave me his nod of approval – no small feat, coming from a cool 16-year-old teenager!
What a lovely night we had. We drank lots of delicious cocktails, chatted and ate until out eyelids started to feel leaden. This pizza night might just have to become a Friday night staple…
You will need: 2 lbs firm white fish, ( I used cod), 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, (I use Rumford brand),1 tsp coarse sea salt, 1 1/2 cups water, 1 cup mayonnaise, 1 tbs chopped chipotle peppers, 1 tbs chipotle sauce (from the same can you got the peppers from), 1 tbs fresh lime juice, 2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro, salt to taste, vegetable oil for frying fish.
1 – Make batter: Put the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl and mix with a manual whisk to incorporate. Add the water and whisk in until you have a lumpy sort of batter. It should be thick. If it seems too thin add a little more flour or more water if too thick. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes.
2 – In the meantime, wash and dry the fish. Cut into big bite-size pieces (2 bites really). Put on a plate in the fridge.
3 – Make tartar sauce: In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, lime juice, cilantro, chipotle pepper and chipotle sauce. Taste and add salt if you think it needs it. Store in fridge until time to serve.
4 – Fry the fish: Take a baking sheet and add the fish in a single layer. Pour the batter over everything , covering the fish. This will make the frying stage much more fluid.
5 – Put big saute pan on high heat and add 6 tbs oil. When the pan is very hot add fish to pan in a single layer with space between each piece; no crowding the pan! Don’t touch the fish for 2 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side. Drain on paper towels and continue until you are done. Add more oil as you need to.