In winter comfort food is necessary for the good of the soul, which means a good fry up has to be on the menu. My search for new ways to present fried fish leads me to investigate goujons.
Lunching with an old friend the other day, we decided on a traditional English meal, served with style at Olde Yorke Fish and Chips in an eastern suburb of Toronto. It’s a family run business I’ve been patronising for nearly 20 years and has its roots in “chippies” back in England in the 50s. The now retired owners hailed from North Yorkshire, and their children have taken over, with continued excellence. Although I often find the thought of fish and chips better in the anticipation than the eating, on this day I am thoroughly satisfied. With a choice of cod, haddock or halibut, I settle for haddock. Which later gets me thinking of other ways to eat this delicious white fish, a relative of cod.
We have to talk about sustainability. Haddock stocks in Canadian waters, like cod, have been severely damaged by overfishing and Greenpeace state firmly that they are still on the endangered list. But in European waters, the stock has been better managed and in the Barents Sea north of Norway, they remain plentiful. The fish I usually buy at Seafront Fish at Toronto’s historic St. Lawrence Market comes from Iceland.
It’s hard for the home cook to get the batter right for fish and chips, and while deep fried fish need not be greasy, potato chips are a trap for tons of fat. Breadcrumbs are an easy alternative coating. Coating fish with breadcrumbs is simple, but a bit of a fiddle. Dipping a bit of fish into flour, egg yolk and breadcrumbs builds up a gummy mess on your fingers, or tongs if you are using them. Apart from that, it’s easy.
Another stumbling block might be a deep fryer. No matter, you can easily use a deep frying pan, or a medium size saucepan, with a fryer basket. In my own kitchen we have an extensive Miele range with four gas burners, an electric lava grill, a high temperature gas wok burner and an electric deep fryer. As the photograph will attest, it has never been used, mainly because of the difficulty in emptying and cleaning it of oil after use. Only if we were frying every day, could this accessory possibly be of any value! So instead I use a fryer basket which conveniently fits into a medium size saucepan. I keep the oil in a jar in the fridge, straining it after each use to keep it clear, and discarding it when it gets too dark coloured.
Rather than attempt large portions of fish, which in any event won’t fit into my little fryer basket. I cut my fish into smaller pieces, called goujons by the French.
A goujon is a small, deep-fried strip of white fish, coated in breadcrumbs. The name comes from the gudgeon, a small fresh water fish, which is found in fast moving streams throughout Europe, and is easily caught. (My sailor friends should note that it is not to be confused with the gudgeon on the stern of their boats, which forms a part of the rudder assembly into which the pintle fits.)
Goujons can also be used to describe poultry treated in the same manner, although most of us would call this chicken fingers. If you want to make chicken goujons, the methodology is exactly the same.
I served crispy haddock goujons for supper recently, with home-made tartar sauce, a wedge of fresh lemon, and steamed new potatoes, carrots and broccoli, the latter garnished with a generous grating of Parmesan, the carrots and potatoes in oodles of butter and the whole with a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley. Served with a bottle of crisp white Petit Chablis, it made for a grand celebration of a young friend’s graduation from uni and entry into the full time workforce in his chosen career. Comfort food on a cold winter’s night indeed.
CRISPY HADDOCK GOUJONS
- 1 lb / 425 g fresh haddock, filleted, skinned and cut into strips (OR halibut, cod, plaice or sole)
- 75 g / 2½ oz plain flour
- 1 TBSP paprika
- 2 free-range eggs
- 150 g / 5½ oz breadcrumbs (50 per cent plain, 50 per cent Panko)
- Canola (rapeseed) oil, to fill your deep fryer
- Fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- Tartar sauce
Preparation and cooking
- Wash fish filets and pat dry, removing any bones or skin. Cut into bite-sized pieces and reserve on a plate.
- Fill one bowl with flour, a second with beaten eggs and a third with breadcrumbs. Season the flour with paprika. Coat the fish pieces in flour, dusting off any excess, then dip them in the egg, then roll in the breadcrumbs until coated. Reserve onto the plate. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
- Fill a deep fryer or a large, deep, heavy-bottomed frying pan two-thirds full with vegetable oil. Heat the oil to 190°C / 375°F or until a breadcrumb sizzles and turns golden-brown when dropped into it (NOTE: Hot oil is dangerous. Please don’t leave it unattended).
- Fry for 2-3 minutes until golden-brown.
- Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve. Serve the fishtartare sauce and lemon wedges and vegetables of your choice.
- 3 free-range egg yolks
- 2 TBSP white vinegar
- 300 ml / 10 fl oz EVOO
- 110 g / 4 oz capers
- 150 g / 5½ oz gherkins, chopped
- ½ shallot, finely chopped
- 1 small bunch fresh dill, chopped
- 2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley
- Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 1 wedge of fresh lemon
- To make the sauce, whisk the egg yolks and vinegar together in a bowl.
- Continue to whisk the mixture and slowly pour in oil until it is all incorporated and the emulsion is thick and light. Now you have basic mayonnaise.
- Chop the capers, gherkins, shallot and herbs finely and stir into the mayonnaise. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.
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Categories: Simply food