Easy, healthier fish and chips you can make at home

Lilly Higgins: Hake is fantastic and a sustainable meaty white fish that’s easy to cook

Hake goujons with avocado dip

Hake goujons with avocado dip

 

Fish and chips go together so well. Add a splash of malt vinegar and you immediately feel the salty sea air on your cheeks. After a full day at the beach recently, we headed for Ballycotton in search of dinner and ate tasty fresh fish and crispy chips in the back garden of Skinny’s Diner overlooking the sea. All three of the kids ate everything and fell asleep in the car on the way home. Fish and chips can be a real holiday memory-making meal but it’s also great at home.

I love fried fish but not having to stand over the cooker and fry batches one after the other, splattering oil everywhere and infusing the kitchen with the smell of fried fish. Instead I cook it all in the oven, turning it halfway through so it browns evenly.

Hake is fantastic and a sustainable meaty white fish that’s easy to cook. I usually buy a huge side of hake complete with skin at the farmer’s market, it’s very fresh and smells of the sea. Simply slide a sharp flat knife between the skin and the fish and slide the fish off, holding the skin tightly against the chopping board as you do so. I always clean off the board to remove any scales before cutting the fish into portions. For this dish I cut the fillet into bite-sized little fish nuggets for young children, but larger portions work just as well. Each one gets dipped in egg then tumbled in seasoned breadcrumbs and baked on a tray in the oven.

Lately I’ve noticed how much bread we waste. With three kids under the age of six, I often find myself eating leftover crusts or absent-mindedly snacking on their discarded toast. This all amounts to a lot of bread, and I really don’t like to see a good sourdough crust go to waste. So I’ve started squirrelling away bread that’s gone hard after a few days or crusts that I’ve trimmed from a sandwich. I fill the freezer with breadcrumbs for various dishes or slices for bread and butter pudding or apple charlottes.

Instead of making the usual garlic aioli or adding lemon juice to mayonnaise, I’ve opted for some good fats with a nice dill, lemon and garlic packed avocado sauce for dipping. It’s really delicious with the hake and great in tuna sandwiches too.

HAKE GOUJONS WITH AVOCADO DIP

Serves six

800g hake fillet, skin removed
125g seasoned flour
2 eggs, beaten
180g breadcrumbs
75g Parmesan, grated
Zest of ½ lemon
1 avocado
2tbs finely chopped dill
2 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

To serve
Chips or potato wedges
Green salad

Drizzle a large baking tray with olive oil. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Cut the fish into chunky bite-size pieces. Beat the eggs with a little water in a shallow bowl.

Combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan and lemon zest in another shallow bowl. Season well with salt and pepper. Place the seasoned flour in a third bowl.

Coat the fish pieces in the flour, then egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Repeat with all of the fish, laying it on the tray once coated. Drizzle the fish with a little live oil and bake for 10 minutes. Turn each piece over so that it’s golden and crisp on both sides. Return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes until the fish is cooked through and the breadcrumbs are golden.

To make the avocado dip, simply blend the avocado, dill, garlic and lemon juice till smooth. Season to taste with salt, and serve alongside the fish.

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