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haresfur

Fish & Chips

92 posts in this topic

I'm just starting to learn about southern hemisphere fish but am enjoying the availability of fish & chips made from something that isn't a generic frozen lump.

I have enjoyed Trevalla and just tried flounder, which isn't something I usually think of for deep frying. Quite nice.

What are your favourites and why?


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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Shark/Lemon Fish is quiet good, but I usually avoid buying fish and chips and even then only buy fish from places I know and trust, which are few and far between.

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It seems you didn't start out in Aus - where did you arrive from ?

I can get the UK-traditional cod here in Japan, but not Scottish-and-other-parts-of-the-UK-traditional haddock. I've come to prefer tai / red sea bream over anything else for fish & chips. It's really delicious, firm and satisfying, but dry if overdone - I mean suffers relatively more in this way than softer cod & derivatives).


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What are your favourites and why?

Haddock has the perfect texture and taste for a crisp beer batter. Cod and halibut are also good. I've battered and fried mackerel, salmon, trout and char but always go back to haddock. A non-oily white-fleshed fish works best for me.


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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We don't get much haddock or cod here in Oz.

Try flake (shark) or snapper. Personally most of the time I find barramundi akin to eating a dish cloth so I wouldn't recommend it.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog

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We don't get much haddock or cod here in Oz.

Hi, Nick. I don't find that surprising, but reading it I realise I've no idea what kinds of fish are taken / can be taken from antarctic waters that'd be analogous to the cod (and its relative haddock) from cold waters in the north ?


Edited by Blether (log)

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It is very different yet again in NZ. We tend to have tarakihi, lemon fish (shark), hoki, blue cod, snapper, Dory, or gurnard as the fish. Blue cod or Dory are pricier and also harder to find. Strike it lucky you get fish that is lightly crumbed on the day it is prepared, but strike it unlucky you get an overcrumbed mess that has also been crumbed for who knows how long ago.

But no matter how poorly the crumb is made, the fish and chips are almost always made to order. This is one thing that NZ tourists to Britain on their OE always hold their noses over the British varieties of fish and chips.

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We're very lucky to have two good fish & chip shops near us.

I only like white-fleshed fish for battered fish (and never crumbed either because the crumbs are usually over done, taste awful and make the fish tough). My favourite is flathead - it's got a lovely firm texture and big flakes and from my local place it's always caught local-ish as well. I've had monkfish and that's been great too. Flake is good when it's fresh. I've only ever had snapper grilled, must try it battered. Barramundi is exactly like eating a dish cloth!! Unless it's wild and you never see that these days.

Personally, I've found that if you get a lace that does good fish (light, crisp batter and just-cooked) the chips are awful....

When I was growing up (in a landlocked part of Canada) we used to love cod in our F&C. Not that there's much of that anyore I guess!

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In Rhode Island, where fried fish is raised to high art, we use local yellow tail flounder or "scrod"--small cod--and sometimes haddock. All are flaky and fresh tasting; some restaurants offer both flounder (for the purists) and scrod, and charge more for the flounder.

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We don't get much haddock or cod here in Oz.

Hi, Nick. I don't find that surprising, but reading it I realise I've no idea what kinds of fish are taken / can be taken from antarctic waters that'd be analogous to the cod (and its relative haddock) from cold waters in the north ?

Probably the closest we would get to this is Blue-eyed Travalla, also known as Antarctic butterfish or Blue-eyed Cod.

It was the fish of choice when I was growing up many years ago in South Australia (as butterfish and chips).

Like snadra, I'd also recommend flathead. Hoki (Blue Grenadier) is also used for deep frying.

The top of the tree for eating fish in beer batter, if you can get it, is King George Whiting from South Australia; although as a son of a keen amateur fisherman, I can't go past this freshly caught, filleted, cooked gently and quickly in butter, seasoned with salt and lemon.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog

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I didn't know flake was shark. Thanks, Nick.

It seems you didn't start out in Aus - where did you arrive from ?

I'm F.O.B. from the Eastern Washington State US, but I grew up in central Canada, where saltwater fish was often better avoided. Maybe there was good cod, but I can't remember it. There was some good halibut & chips in Washington, but often it was frozen prepared product. I do like haddock.

It is very different yet again in NZ. We tend to have tarakihi, lemon fish (shark), hoki, blue cod, snapper, Dory, or gurnard as the fish. Blue cod or Dory are pricier and also harder to find. Strike it lucky you get fish that is lightly crumbed on the day it is prepared, but strike it unlucky you get an overcrumbed mess that has also been crumbed for who knows how long ago.

But no matter how poorly the crumb is made, the fish and chips are almost always made to order. This is one thing that NZ tourists to Britain on their OE always hold their noses over the British varieties of fish and chips.

Yes, waiting for your fish is fine by me. I remember being unimpressed in England. I'll have to do a research trip to New Zealand, soon.

I only like white-fleshed fish for battered fish (and never crumbed either because the crumbs are usually over done, taste awful and make the fish tough). My favourite is flathead - it's got a lovely firm texture and big flakes and from my local place it's always caught local-ish as well. I've had monkfish and that's been great too. Flake is good when it's fresh. I've only ever had snapper grilled, must try it battered. Barramundi is exactly like eating a dish cloth!! Unless it's wild and you never see that these days.

Personally, I've found that if you get a lace that does good fish (light, crisp batter and just-cooked) the chips are awful....

When I was growing up (in a landlocked part of Canada) we used to love cod in our F&C. Not that there's much of that anyore I guess!

I haven't seen flathead unless it goes by another name in Victoria. Monkfish sounds great. When it comes to chips, I'm a boor, though. I prefer the overly crisp ones that don't taste like potato. My main problem is to remember to ask them not to put on too much salt.


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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I didn't know flake was shark. Thanks, Nick.

It's also a threatened species due to its long reproductive cycle.

If you're into sustainability, try one of the other alternatives.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog

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Probably the closest we would get to this is Blue-eyed Travalla, also known as Antarctic butterfish or Blue-eyed Cod.It was the fish of choice when I was growing up many years ago in South Australia (as butterfish and chips).Like snadra, I'd also recommend flathead. Hoki (Blue Grenadier) is also used for deep frying.The top of the tree for eating fish in beer batter, if you can get it, is King George Whiting from South Australia; although as a son of a keen amateur fisherman, I can't go past this freshly caught, filleted, cooked gently and quickly in butter, seasoned with salt and lemon.

I've never had whiting (King George or otherwise). I'll have to try it now.

But isn't it frustrating how many names are flying around out there for the same fish? I hadn't realised that Blue-eye Cod was trevalla, never mind butterfish!

When it comes to chips, I'm a boor, though. I prefer the overly crisp ones that don't taste like potato. My main problem is to remember to ask them not to put on too much salt.

I'm probably from the same school of crispier chips - at the least they should be fluffy inside and not droop in your hand like a sleeping, chicken-salted kitten!

I didn't know flake was shark. Thanks, Nick.
It's also a threatened species due to its long reproductive cycle.If you're into sustainability, try one of the other alternatives.

Funny you should bring that up. Sustainability is one of the reasons I tend to go for flathead these days. A good reason to try whiting as well, I guess. Of course, in NSW something like 75% of our seafood is imported from elsewhere.

Check out this sustainable fish guide for a quick overview of better fish choices.

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For deep-fried Fish & Chip Shop style fish then ditto for the flathead & King George Whiting votes, flathead especially really suits deep frying and a beer batter. The fillets of King George Whiting at my local shop were always fairly thin in comparison, probably because the fish was more expensive, but worth the extra cost. If you can find thick fillets of King George Whiting then don't think twice.

I'm not a huge fan of fish & chips and I find that deep-frying tends to make different types of fish taste fairly similar. I suppose if fish & chip shops are frying everything in the same oil then it all comes down to how often they change it.

At home I prefer to shallow-fry fish, usually in breadcrumbs, and I think this brings out the individual characters of different types of fish more than a batter. Grilling even more so...

-As a kid the family favourite was Blue Grenadier. Not only the cheapest fish at the fishmonger, but also quite mild in flavour and very juicy.

-Poor choice from an environmental perspective, but Orange Roughy/Sea Perch is unlike any other fish- absolutely delicious. My alltime favourite. But you can't eat it with a clean conscience.

-I've bought and cooked some wonderful John Dory, but I'm never 100% confident that what a fishmonger sells me as John Dory really is John Dory. Maybe I'm just paranoid.

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Thanks for that, Nick. Strangely fishbase was inaccessible when I posted - I found another source that suggested none of those species is on the market here, but I see now it's back up and I'll have to take another look.

... But isn't it frustrating how many names are flying around out there for the same fish?

Snadra, do you know Fishbase ? Your comment makes me wonder - it's fairly well-known around eGullet, I think.

ChrisZ, have you tried frying after a dip in some (seasoned) flour (no milk, no egg, just the fresh fish fillet ? I lifted that from Marcella Hazan IIRC, using olive oil (doesn't have to be virgin, just as long as you haven't used it too many times) to fry, and like it a lot for, as you say, letting the fish shine. I like breading, too, but I'll often go the flour route for variety, and because it's so much less hassle than the egg-and-crumb-and- shuffle.


Edited by Blether (log)

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It seems King George Whiting is exclusively found in Australian waters, and Antacrtic Butterfish exclusively, or near so, in New Zealand (territorial ?) waters. It's also interesting the number of different species known as 'Butterfish' in Aus.

Hoki / Blue Grenadier is known in Japan.

For flathead in Aus I see four different fish:

Cymbacephalus nematophthalmus

Platycephalus endrachtensis

Platycephalus longispinis

Platycephalus marmoratus

- which look like three similar, and one quite different fish (the first one), in terms of looks of the whole animal at any rate. The last two are very much Aus/NZ locals; the first two are found more broadly around Indonesia / the western Pacific - they at least aren't cold water species. All are known in China: none, apparently, in Japan.


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ChrisZ, have you tried frying after a dip in some (seasoned) flour (no milk, no egg, just the fresh fish fillet ? I lifted that from Marcella Hazan IIRC, using olive oil (doesn't have to be virgin, just as long as you haven't used it too many times) to fry, and like it a lot for, as you say, letting the fish shine. I like breading, too, but I'll often go the flour route for variety, and because it's so much less hassle than the egg-and-crumb-and- shuffle.

Yes I do that a lot too, as crumbs are definitely messy- and they have their own flavour as well. I wouldn't crumb thin fillets- I had some butterflied garfish fillets in Adelaide that were fried in nothing but a dusting of flour and they were lovely. I haven't seen garfish fillets anywhere else but I remember how sweet they were. One of my guilty kitchen secrets is that I like the "Season All" seasoning mix you buy from supermarkets. A sprinkle of that with some flour and you don't need much else.

At the opposite end of the complexity spectrum, Heston Blumenthal invested a lot of time and effort to make the "perfect" fish and chips for his TV series. He discovered that making a batter with alcohol (vodka) produced better results because it evaporates faster than water, and he would dispense the batter from a soda siphon to introduce bubbles of CO2 into the mix, which insulated the fish from the heat of the oil and allowed the batter to cook to a golden crisp without overcooking the fish. I may even try that one day, because although it sounds complex it's one of Blumenthal's more accessible techniques.

And on a different note, "Butterfish" sometimes refers to Escolar, which tastes OK but has laxative effects in larger quantities.

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... Heston Blumenthal invested a lot of time and effort to make the "perfect" fish and chips for his TV series. He discovered that making a batter with alcohol (vodka) produced better results because it evaporates faster than water, and he would dispense the batter from a soda siphon to introduce bubbles of CO2 into the mix, which insulated the fish from the heat of the oil and allowed the batter to cook to a golden crisp without overcooking the fish. I may even try that one day, because although it sounds complex it's one of Blumenthal's more accessible techniques.

Yes, I remember reading about that here on eG, and I'm intrigued to get my hands on one of those home-refillable multi-use aerosol cans (I forget the US brand name), a version of which Ferran Adria (?) used to take A Bourdain's breath away through foamed-batter-cake. In the meantime, I haven't even gotten round to folding whipped egg whites into fish batter more than about once.

The Blumenthal approach is, just as you say, relatively accessible and his technique really worth mentioning under this topic.


Edited by Blether (log)

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When we moved back to Wellington a few years ago, our local fish 'n' chip shop introduced us to the pleasures of warehou (Seriolella brama, according to Fishbase). It's a very 'meaty' fish and tastes great. It's now our first choice for home cooked F&C (and home-cooked is the only sort we've had for the past year or more).

My preferred technique is a light flour coating, then a quick swoosh through tempura batter before deep frying pretty hot - 200°C or more if you can manage it (be careful ...). I've tried vodka in the batter but didn't notice a difference - I have much better uses for vodka! I haven't yet tried squirting the batter out of my iSi syphon, but that's on the list.

For chips, I'm firmly alongside those above who have expressed a preference for crisp over soggy. Unless there are very pressing reasons, all my chips now are triple-cooked in the Blumenthal manner. Marvellous stuff. And the recent acquisition at auction of another deep fryer means I don't have to juggle the fish and chips - just do them separately (previously I laid the fish on top of the chips during their final cooking - it works, but it gets a bit crowded in there).

Mmm - time to cook fish and chips again, I think.


Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
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After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

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I like using a fish they have here called "Cream Dory." It has nothing to do nor any relation to the "John Dory."

It's a Vietnamese fresh water catfish called the Pangasius Catfish.

For me, they make for the best Fish and Chips I've ever had :)

Regards.

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we had deep fried cobia the other day for staff dinner and it was the best crumbed fish ive ever had ... i believe someone has already mentioned it using the name lemon fish ... top fish and chips i highly recommend it


"None, but people of strong passion are capable of rising to greatness."

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Thanks for that, Nick. Strangely fishbase was inaccessible when I posted - I found another source that suggested none of those species is on the market here, but I see now it's back up and I'll have to take another look.

... But isn't it frustrating how many names are flying around out there for the same fish?

Snadra, do you know Fishbase ? Your comment makes me wonder - it's fairly well-known around eGullet, I think.

I don't think I've come across it before! Thanks for pointing me to it - it's a brilliant thing. Now, I'd buy an iphone app for that!

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Thanks for the information on the sustainability status of the different species - although I have yet to be able to connect to fishbase. It is a bit disheartening - species seem to move from extraneous to dinner to endangered with frightening speed.

The ever-morphing names are confusing but I guess I can understand from the marketing perspective and because of the difference between scientific taxonomy and common observations. I'm sure I'll have to refer back to this topic and to wikipedia before I sort it all out. Now to find some platycephalus...


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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Thanks for the information on the sustainability status of the different species - although I have yet to be able to connect to fishbase.

The Seafood Watch Program from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Greenpeace's Red List are worth a look.


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Victoria just launched a web page on sustainable seafood. The brochures even include recipes.

Sustainable seafood choices for consumers include snapper, rock lobster, eels, abalone, bream, flathead, garfish, King George whiting and calamari.

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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