Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Battered Monkfish with Sweet and Spicy Pineapple...

... served with sweet potato chips.

This is my barstardised version of the delicious meal I had at the Porthminster Beach Cafe in Cornwall. Having failed to procure their recipe I thought I'd have a bash at it myself and the result was pretty close to the real McCoy.

It makes for a fantastically fresh but devilishly deep fried meal and an interesting alternative to your standard fish and chips.

I don't often deep fry things so it was a good learning exercise too. The three key things I found were:

1) Small batches work best (otherwise the temperature of the oil drops right down and takes too long to heat up, making the result less crispy)

2) When using batter it is best to drop your frying basket in the oil and then drop in the battered pieces of fish rather than place them in the basket and then lower the whole thing, since that way the batter gets a bit entangled

3) You need a lot of frying oil! Around 3l for enough chips for 4 people

Two other well known tips: olive oils does not work for deep frying as it has a low burning point. A kitchen thermometer is really helpful for judging the temperature of the oil, otherwise there are various tests involving scraps if bread and a timer that you could look up.

Here are my recipes below (serves 4):

The best order of events is to prepare the garnish first then deal with the sweet potato chips before leaving them in a hot oven and getting onto the fish.

Sweet and Spicy Pineapple Garnish


2 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons of water
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of pineapple juice (squeezed from a bit of your pineapple)
1 chilli

2cm stub of ginger
A large handful of coriander
A large handful of mint
Half a pineapple
4 cloves of garlic
A teaspoon of flour

Begin with the caramel sauce. Place the sugar in a small, thick based pan and heat without stirring until it just begins to go dark brown. Then carefully add the water (avoiding and hot spitting sugar) and let it dissolve the caramel - this will probably involve more heat.

Pour the mix into a saucer and add the soy and pineapple juice to taste (it should be very sweet and salty since you only use a little on each plate).

Now cut your pineapple in half and slice off all the skin. Very finely slice the pineapple horizontally into 1-2mm thick slices (they will look like flowers with the pineapple core in their centre). If you don't get perfect circles it really doesn't matter as you will then cut them into semi circles anyway.

Now deseed your chilli and slice finely. Peel your ginger and slice into threads (see below). Pick your coriander and mint leaves and chop very very roughly (see photo).

Finely slice your garlic and toss in flower to be deep fried just before the sweet potato chips.

When it comes to assembling the whole dish, place the pineapple into a nice tallish clump drizzle over a tablespoon of sauce then sprinkle the herbs, chilli, and garlic on top

Sweet potato chips

1-2 sweet potatoes per person depending on appetite
3l frying oil
Cornflour for dusting
Mayonnaise for dipping (I cut up coriander into mine. Wasabi mayonnaise would also work well)

Heat the oil to 200 degrees Celsius and turn the oven up to 200 degrees too. Line a baking tray with kitchen towel.

Slice your sweet potatoes into the shape you like - skinny or fat. Toss with flour and a teaspoon of salt.

Once the oil is hot enough add the chips in 3 batches. Each time fry for 6-8 minutes (maybe longer if you are doing thick wedges) until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. You can check this with a fork.

Scoop them out with a slotted device of some sort, I use a frying basket that I put in the oil before hand.

Carefully shake off the boiling oil and empty onto the kitchen roll lined tray to absorb excess oil. Sprinkle with salt. Place in the oven to keep warm.

Beer Battered Monkfish

4 monkfish fillets
100g self raising flour
150ml beer
A pinch of salt and pepper
3l frying oil (you can use the same oil as the chips)


Heat the oil up to 200 degrees celsius again. (Don't forget to do your garlic for the garnish which you can do at 180 degrees Celsius).

Now make the batter by sifting the flour and seasoning into a bowl, pouring over the beer and mixing.

Coat your fish fillets in the batter and drop into the hot oil. Fry for 8-12 minutes until the batter is a good colour and crispy.

When done drain and pat off excess oil with kitchen roll then serve immediately while hot.