Thursday, May 13, 2021

Skinny Fish & Chips! Part I - The Fish

Light & crispy

Fish and chips were a Friday cafeteria lunch staple during my elementary and high school years.  Growing up on the South Shore of Boston in an obscure town called Scituate, and spending summers on Cape Cod, I remember roadside joints that served it with vinegar sprinkled on top and served on a few sheets of newspaper wrapped into a cone.  The fried fish sat atop a mound of French fries. Those were a step up from the cafeteria version.  I went to Catholic school and every Friday we had to have fish.   But both versions were always greasy and heavy.  There was a reason the take-out joint F&C were served on newspaper!  You'd want a nap after you finished.  Though they were Heavenly going down. 

All of these centuries later, I thought I'd give the dish my spin in the Air Fryer.  Warmer weather is coming and this dish epitomizes summer on Cape Cod. 

Not your Catholic school cafeteria Fish & Chips

For starters, I use cod as the fish.  Truth be told, I buy the frozen and thawed cod from Fairway which is usually $7.99 per pound.  I request the thickest slice they have.  My rule of thumb is a half pound of cod per person.  So, in these days of limited funds during Covid-19, this is an economical dinner - for me it's usually $4 for my single serving.  I cut the fillets into small pieces.  They fry better and there's more cod covered with the crispy mixture.

Cut your fish - I use cod - into slider-sized fillets (about 3"long x 2" wide each but it's up to you).  They fry up better when they're in smaller pieces and there's more areas of crunchiness. 

My rule of thumb is a half pound piece per person


Cut into small pieces


Let's start with the very basics of air frying - the Holy Trinity of air fryer prep consists of flour, egg white and panko.  This is dredging station is good for when you're looking to mimic that crispy, crunchy outer coating that you get when you deep fry.  You want to pat dry whatever you're frying.  It's important to get the fish as dry as possible.  I douse the filets with sea salt and wrap them in paper towels for as long as possible - a half hour is good.  Be sure to press the paper towels containing the filets and change the paper towels from time time.  I put my hand on them and gently push.  I use egg whites rather than regular eggs with the yokes to avoid the edges looking like scrambled eggs.  But if you're a fan of yolks, but all means use them.

The Holy Trinity of Air Frying

Next, dredge the fillets through the flour, egg white and panko until well covered.  I press the mixture onto the fillets and spray with canola oil (the choice of oil is up to you.  I wouldn't use EVOO as it burns quicker.  If times were flush I'd use avocado oil).  I'll spray, press and spray again to be sure the mixture sticks - you want as much as possible for ultra crunchiness.  I usually don't season the panko with anything but salt.  The extra flavor will come from the tarter sauce and a squeeze of lemon on the finished product. 

Dredge the fillets making sure they're all well covered
Press the mixture into the cod with your hands, use oil as needed


Place in air fryer - leaving room between each fillet

Spread the fillets out so they're not too crowded - they'll only steam.  Spray both sides liberally with oil.  Cook for 3 to 5 minutes on each side at 350 degrees. Just keep an eye on them and cook until they get that golden exterior.  Use a pair of tongs to check the side on the bottom.  Spray the fillet with oil again when you flip it. 

Cook for 3 - 5  minutes per side at 350 degrees - serve with tarter sauce

Ingredients 

For the dredge station:
1/2 - 1 cup flour or corn starch and tspn sea salt in one container
1/2 cup of egg white in a shallow bowl
1 cup panko and 1 tspn sea salt in third container

For the air fried fish
1/2 lb cod per person

For the tarter sauce
2 tbspns reduced fat mayonnaise (you can use full fat mayo if you prefer)
1 tspn sweet pickled relish 
1/2 tspn capers
1 tspn anchovy juice (optional - use 1/2 tspn sea salt as substitute)
1 tbspn Ken's Italian Dressing (plain)
1/2 tspn Dijon mustard
2 - 3 tbspns Ken's Dressing to taste and desired thickness
1 tspn capers
2 tbspns fresh squeezed lemon juice

      Ken's Steak House Italian Dressing

Method

Air Fryer fried cod
Cut the cod into small, slider-sized fillets.  Approximately 3" long x 2" wide
Sprinkle sea salt over both sides of fillets
Dry thoroughly by wrapping each fillet in a paper towel
Press down on both sides of fillets, changing paper towels as needed
Let sit in paper towels for at least 10 minutes on the counter
Dredge each piece through the Trinity (flour, egg white, panko)
Arrange in the air fryer - leaving room between each fillet
Cook at 350 degrees for 3 - 5 minutes each side (keep an eye on them)
Serve Immediately

     Anchovy Juice replaces sea salt - 
            I found this at Eataly


For the Tarter Sauce
combine ingredients in a small bowl
whisk together
cover and transfer to the refrigerator to chill and set - at least 10 minutes

Serve and enjoy!  Up next: French fries (aka chips) in the air fryer


Up Next: Fish and Chips Part II - Chips aka French fries 
in the air fryer




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