During Second World War Winston Churchill famously recognised the crucial role of Fish and Chips, referring to them as ‘good companions’. The classic English dish has captured the hearts of people across the globe. But over the years, people have been trying to create different versions of the lip-smacking dish.
We talk to Pune-based chefs to know more about how they have tweaked the dish to make it more appealing.
Talking about new variants, celebrity chef Sabyasachi Gorai from Mineority by Saby, Kalyani Nagar, says, “I do Desi Fish and Chips which is a mild twist to the classic recipe, where I serve potato veggies along with Sea Bass fish which is cooked and wrapped with the Aloo Patta (Patra) and served with cole slaw.”
Suvendu Roy, head chef, Hyatt Pune, Kalyani Nagar, says the one that they have been dishing out at their restaurant Eighty Eight and has really worked well is the Coconut Crumb Fish with paprika and parmesan potato fingers. “It is served with a spicy tomato sauce instead of the usual tartar sauce.”
Roy has also experimented with beer-battered fish which is lighter, flavourful and served with fries, wedges, salad and tartar sauce.
Sometimes instead of the chips, they also serve cucumber and carrot sticks.
Gulshan Kumar, executive chef, The Orchid Hotel, Pune, feels that the variants of any traditional dish depends on the individual creativity of the chef. He has successfully created a lot of variants of Fish and Chips, one of them being Indo-British Connection. He explains, “Take shredded bell peppers, onions, olives, tossed with extra virgin oil and continental spices. A fillet of Sea Bass fish should be flattened like a bed spread on which you can put the veggies and season it with chili flakes, oregano, salt and pepper, roasted mustard, lemon juice and chopped coriander.
A few other alternatives are Crumb Fried Honey Mustard Salmon with banana and chilli chips, Pan-fry Fish with mushroom and ginger dip herb and parmesan, Tempura Fish and baked pumpkin chips with messy peas with salt and pepper.
Don’t go overboard
Roy feels that cooking is an art and there are various ways of experimenting with the same. “However, our experiments must suit the palate of the guest, or else the purpose is lost,” says Roy.
While people may wish to experiment with the dish to serve something unique, but you can’t replace the core ingredients.
Gorai says, “Fish and Chips can be experimented in many ways but has to have its core ingredients — fish and aloo (potatoes). Adding a sour element like vinegar, lime chutney, etc helps enhance its flavour.”
Gorai also feels that it’s okay to use Basa fish but ideally one should use good quality fish. It is also important to balance the nutrient values of Fish and Chips with the right amount of protein and starch between the fish, chips and dip.
Use fresh oil
Talking about the dos and don’ts of experimenting with the dish, Mayuri Singh, who owns Mad House Grill, Koregaon Park, says, “Fish and Chips is a classic British dish. While experimenting with the dish, do not substitute its core ingredients. Also, the oil used should always be fresh. Fish and Chips should be served with a fresh pungent tartar sauce. The fish should have a light crust and not a thick crust. It should always be served with lemon wedges and the fish should not be smelly and oily.”
Roy emphasises that Fish and Chips has been one of the favourite foods since generations. Since this is more of a comfort food, it is important that we should look for products that are easily available in the market to make this lovely dish.
He says, “Also one should be watchful regarding the nutrient value of the products before procuring the same. It is easy to deviate from the path of serving good and healthy food when it comes to comfort food.”
Kumar explains that the temperature of oil should be correct and fresh oil should only be used for frying. Any milk-based dip, ammonia and cheese should be avoided. He adds, “Try to use firm fish like Haddock instead of Sea Bass as it is soft. Japanese Panko is used nowadays instead of batter as it is more healthy. Accompaniments can be of different types — potatoes, yam, onion rings, sweet potatoes, mash peas, pumpkin mash.
In any creative preparation of Fish and Chips, lemon, black pepper and herbs are the most important. Try to use fresh fish rather than frozen fish as it has ammonia.”