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“Fish & Chips” Playtime


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You’ll want to zoom in on the pictures in this one, folks.  Yumm-o.

I’ve had a blast trying out new recipes using Castle Valley Mill‘s polenta.  It’s given me so many options to create new starchy sides.

Following the success of the polenta fries, I was all set to pan fry the remaining pieces and serve them with pork chops.  We actually did some poached eggs and “toast” over the weekend.  However, my snarky comment about playing with shrimp and grits in my last post made me think how polenta could be an interesting twist on fish and chips.

Mike from Metropolitan Seafood had some nice meaty hake to serve as my fish – very similar in texture and flavor to cod, and you already know how we’re big fans of anything he sells.  I took the fish and polenta out, deciding to marry the two together, until I was struck by wild inspiration – what about battering the leftover POLENTA instead of the fish?  Then I could complement the naked beauty of the hake instead of piling fried food upon fried food on a plate.

My dad makes a fantastic tempura batter that we have used for veggies, fish, meat, you name it.  It’s the most popular appetizer at Thanksgiving.  It combines cornstarch and flour with beer, making a very light, crispy coating due to the carbonation.  The beer also provides that somewhat authentic, “British pub” flavor I love with fish and chips.  Since I also bought some of Mark’s hard whole wheat, I decided this was a prime opportunity to try something new.  A small gouge in my finger and several oil splatters later and you get…

“Fish & Chips”
Original Recipe (Polenta recipe based off this one)
This recipe is kind of long but fairly simple to make.  It’s a good way to conserve oil because you avoid deep-frying.  I recommend testing one polenta triangle first to make sure the oil is hot enough.  Feel free to make the polenta and tartar sauce a couple of days ahead.

Serves 2.

Make the polenta:
1 cup milk
1 cup water
3/4 cup polenta
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp chopped rosemary (or 1 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 T olive oil

Bring milk and water to a boil over high heat.  Gradually stir in the polenta.  Turn heat down to low and stir in the salt, rosemary, and garlic powder.  Stir frequently, scraping the bottom of the pan to avoid scorching, until polenta is creamy, 5-15 minutes (depending on the coarseness of your polenta).

Turn out onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  When cool enough to handle, spread into a rectangle approximately 1/4 inch thick (1/2 inch will result in a heavy “chip”).  Chill completely.  Cut into 3-inch acute angled triangles (I have to be specific or my technical friends will mock me; or other desired shape) and leave in fridge until ready to use.  Makes about 8 triangles.

Make the tartar sauce:
1/2 dill pickle, small dice
1 T pickle juice
1 tsp lemon juice
2 T mayonnaise

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl.  Set aside or chill until ready to use.

Make the batter:
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 T cornstarch
1/3 cup medium beer, like a Yuengling

Mix all ingredients in a shallow bowl.  Add more beer if too thick or more flour if too wet (see picture). Set aside.

Prepare the fish:
2 pieces hake or cod fillet, 1/4 pound each
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 T olive oil
1 tsp salt and pepper or to taste

Preheat the broiler.  Line a cookie sheet with a piece of aluminum foil.  Place fish fillets in pan and sprinkle with lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper.

Fry the polenta:
Heat a large skillet with enough olive or canola oil to cover the bottom of the pan completely, over medium high heat.  Dredge the polenta triangles in the batter – the coating will be thin but should cover. 

When the oil is shiny, place the polenta triangles in the skillet with enough space between them to flip.  Fry until golden brown, 2-3 minutes per side.  Drain on paper towels.

Broil the fish until flaky.  Serve with tartar sauce and polenta “chips”.

Local Sources (both sell at Stockton Market in Stockton, NJ on the weekends)
Hard whole wheat flour and grits/polenta – Castle Valley Mill (Doylestown, PA)
Hake – Metropolitan Seafood (Clinton, NJ)

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