For many households, fish on Fridays is still a regular thing, but getting some kids to eat seafood can be tricky (although I’ve seen Belle demolish a shrimp cocktail on several occasions). One alternative are the frozen fish sticks you find courtesy of the Gordon Fisherman, but I have never been a frozen fish stick kind of gal. Maybe it’s because they’re kind of gross, maybe because after living briefly in Ireland I won an appreciation for the perfectly fried fish and chips wrapped in newspaper, or maybe because once I discovered this easy recipe for making them from scratch I never had to consider frozen again…
I have gushed about this cookbook on my own blog on MANY occasions, because I would argue it’s the best fish cookbook out there: FISH by Rick Moonen & Roy Finnamore. I use this wonderful book all of the time, and everything I’ve made—from the salmon burgers to the pasta with shrimp and ginger cream sauce—comes out perfect. ANd don’t get me started on the amazing chapter devoted to sauces! Their fish fingers are no exception, and my kids love them to pieces. When I make them (not just on Friday nights) I usually make it a la the fish and chips I had in Dublin, although I substitute sweet potato fries for the chips and skip the newspaper (although maybe my kids would find eating on the funny papers pretty cool…).
Conor prefers his fingers with ketchup, but for the rest of us I make a green tartar sauce inspired by a recipe in the book. To make the sauce I toss the following into a small food processor: chopped sweet relish (you can use cornichon, if you’d like), capers, 1 shallot and process for a few seconds. Then add a little Dijon mustard, small bunch of chopped dill, a little lemon juice, ground white pepper, 1 cup of mayonnaise, 1/2 cup of sour cream and whir. Lastly, while the processor is whirring, drizzle in a 1/4 cup of olive oil (or enough until it looks like a thickened sauce).
And here’s the recipe for the fingers, don’t be daunted by the frying portion. I just use a small cast iron pot and a cooking thermometer to monitor the heat level (it should stay around 365). And these don’t come out greasy at all–more like a light tempura, cloud-like crust. Once you get the hang of it you might want to use the same recipe with veggies. Yum.
Fish Fingers adapted from the book FISH by Rick Moonen and Roy Finnamore
Ingredients for batter:
-1 large egg
-1 1/2 cup of cold selzer or club soda
-2 cups of self-rising cake flour (which means it already has salt and baking powder added)
-1 1/2 pounds of fresh cod sliced into 3 inch long fingers (I used wild caught Atlantic scrod cod)
-coarse salt and white pepper
-peanut or vegetable oil for frying (I used a combination of both)
-Crack the egg in a medium bowl and whisk.
-Pour in seltzer or club soda and continue to whisk well, it will froth up.
-Whisk in flour until completely smooth.
-Season the fish fingers with the salt and pepper.
-Heat oil in wide deep pot (I use a not so wide cast iron pot so I don’t have to use as much oil). Pour enough oil so that it reaches about 3 inches on the side. Place a thermometer in the pot–you want the oil to get to 365 for perfect frying.
-Place a 2-3 fish fingers in the batter and use bamboo skewers (or wooden chopstick) to turn and coat them. Pull out one at at time, draining excess batter, and then use a skewer to gently place a finger in the oil, hold it suspended for about 3 seconds about half way in the oil (this will help set the crust) before shaking the finger loose and releasing it into the oil.
-Put a couple more fingers in the oil using the same technique, making sure to maintain the heat of the oil.
-Once the fingers look golden brown on all sides scoop them out (if you have a spider, this is great for this) and place on wire rack over a baking sheet to drain.
-Serve warm and enjoy!