This is a quickly made fish-finger-substitute comfort food, with homemade tartare sauce, wonderful wedge potatoes, and the added interest of some fresh, nutty romanesco.
Alternatively you can serve the fish with a tomato salad, fried potatoes and mayonnaise.
Recipe for fried fillet of perch or cobbler with all the trimmings
Ingredients for the tartare sauce
(do not even think of buying it ready made, this is SO much better, and it keeps in the fridge for ages):
- 300ml/1¼ cups/half a 600g jar mayonnaise – Hellman’s is fine. Dr Will’s is brilliant.
- 2 tbsp capers (not the ones in brine – but if they are in salt rinse thoroughly and then soak in milk for half an hour)
- small bunch parsley, chopped (do NOT use the stalks – usually it’s fine but not for this)
- 1 banana shallot, peeled and finely chopped
- juice of a lemon (or two tbsp of the squeezy type… but it’s not as good for this)
Ingredients for the wonderful potato wedges
- 2 really large baking potatoes
- 4 tbsp sunflower oil
- 4 fat cloves of garlic, squashed – skins removed
- smoked salt
- juice of a lemon – save the zest for the romanesco (NB – this is essential, DO NOT FORGET OR OMIT)
- 1 tbsp of dried herbes de provence or a few sprigs of thyme or rosemary
Ingredients for the perch or cobbler fillets
- 2 lb/1kg perch fillets (it’ll be about 5 fillets each, they are very small). Otherwise buy cobbler* fillets and cut into strips about two inches wide and five inches long. Cobbler is NOT an expensive fish. You could also use sea bass or even cod, something that won’t disintegrate.
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup/140g flour – seasoned with the turmeric and the salt and pepper listed next
- ½ tsp turmeric (which makes it a lovely gold colour)
- 4 tsp smoked salt
- few grinds of pepper
- 4 tbsp rape seed oil
- juice and zest of a lemon
Ingredients for the romanesco
(if you can’t find romanesco use a mix of broccoli and cauliflower – you need the cauliflower for the nutty taste):
- 1 head of romanesco
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- zest of a lemon
- first make the tartare sauce: simply mix all the ingredients together. You can do this days before.
- then get the potatoes going. preheat the oven to 220°C (use top right aga oven – use middle shelf). Warm the plates and the glasses for the potatoes
- oil a roasting sheet REALLY well, otherwise you will be spending all night washing it up – even better use bake-o-glide… or just foil
- cut the potatoes in half, then slice lengthwise into thin wedges
- put onto the roasting sheet with a good slosh of vegetable oil, the cloves of garlic and the herbs
- mix well – make sure the surfaces of the potatoes are all covered
- sprinkle with the salt
- put in the oven for 30-40 minutes – keep turning
- split the romanesco up into small florets and put a large saucepan of water on to boil
- put the flour into a wide soup plate and season, place to the left of the bowl of beaten egg
- heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat
- dip each fillet in the egg (all over), then the flour (all over), then into the frying pan – don’t let the fish fillets touch each other.
- take out the potatoes and sprinkle over the lemon juice
- cook the potatoes for another five minutes, turn out onto kitchen paper and keep warm.
- boil the small romanesco florets for about two minutes, drain and refresh, put back into the hot saucepan
- fry the perch fillets for about four minutes each side
- crush the garlic from the potatoes and mix it in with two teaspoons of olive oil and the lemon zest… use it as a dressing for the romanesco.
- serve with the wedges in a glass, individual small bowls of tartare sauce, the perch and the romanesco.
*what on earth is cobbler???!!! Cobbler is sometimes known as river cobbler or basa. It is a type of catfish from Thailand and Vietnam.