Fish 'n' Chips
A meal guaranteed to go down well with fussy girls.
Or at least, the chips are.
Cod fritters with chilli ginger tomato sauce
main fish
Serve any leftover sauce with barbecued meat or fish
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Do ahead: You can part cook the fish an hour before using. The sauce will keep for several days in a jar, chilled.

Serves: 6
plain flour seasoned with salt and pepper, for dusting
1.5-2 litres vegetable oil I used groundnut, for frying
6 x 75-110g skinned fillets of line-caught cod and some chicken strips
potatoes for chips
For the batter
125g plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
50g cornflour
a little ground coriander (optional)
a pinch of ground cumin
225ml cold lager I tried Weißbier, which worked fine
For the chilli ginger tomato sauce
8 decent-sized vine tomatoes
2 large red chillies, sliced lengthways and deseeded
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 small onion or shallot, peeled and sliced
5cm piece root ginger, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon dark soft brown sugar
1-2 sprigs lemon thyme, leaves only or so
65ml olive oil
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
To make the dry batter mix all the ingredients except for the lager in a bowl with some seasoning.
Preheat the grill to high.
To make the sauce, cut a small cross in the top of each tomato and place on the grill pan with the chillies. Scatter over the garlic, onion ginger brown sugar and thyme leaves.
Actually the brown sugar tends to go up in flames if you do this - it would probably be better to add the sugar at the end.
Or bake them as I did here.

Place under the grill until the tomatoes have softened and the skins are a little charred, 10-15 minutes.
Blitz in a blender and push through a fine sieve into a bowl. Add the oil, a little lemonjuice and salt and freshly ground black pepper.
When you are ready to cook the fish pour the lager into the dry batter and mix everything together using a fork; it's fine if there are a few lumps as this will produce a lighter batter.
Spread the seasoned flour on to a plate.
Pour about 5cm of vegetable oil into a large deep-sided saucepan. Over a moderate heat, bring up to a temperature of 140-160°C, using a thermometer; or drop in a little batter to test the temperature. If it rises straight to the top and fries, then the temperature is correct.
Dust and coat each fillet with the seasoned flour then dip them into the batter mix to coat well. Drop the fish into the hot oil (in batches or the temperature will drop). Turn each piece over and, when they are just coloured, just coloured, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Either bring the oil back to temperature and re-fry the fish until golden to serve immediately or leave to re-fry later (up to 1 hour is fine).
Drain the fish thoroughly on kitchen paper before serving with the warmed sauce and maybe a green salad. or you could try pea purée, which isn't bad, but doesn't quite work. Some mint in the peas might have been better.

Makes quite a nice batter, be sure to coat the fish plentifully, it helps if the batter is not too thin, though it can be difficult to mix in the lager. I did the same thing with some strips of chicken for Georgina, which seemed to go down well, though I thought it made them a bit chewy. Better chewy than undercooked I suppose!
I made chips too (thickly sliced Maris Pipers) which everyone approved of - fry the chips three times until golden, re-heating the oil in-between. The first round leaves the chips cooked through but pale and soggy, The second round golden, and the third perfectly crisped.
The sauce had potential, but was a bit watery, and the girls didn't really like it. The flavour was pleasant, not as deep and rich as you might hope for the ingredients.

Cod Fritters

Purée Peas
side veg
1 onion, chopped
lemon thyme leaves
Fresh peas, podded
white wine I used a dessert wine - Tesco's "Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux" a blend of Semillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle.
Gently fry the onion and thyme in butter until softened without colouring. Add the peas, then moisten repeatedly with the wine and braise until the peas are tender.
Purée in a liquidizer, then pass through a sieve. You may need more wine/water/stock to do this.
I thought these were really nice - the sweet dessert wine gives them a very unusual flavour possibly overwhelmingly sweet if you don't choose the meal carefully. I suppose you could add more herbs also - basil or mint.
A dry white wine with some Sour Cream would probably work well too.