Sometimes, there is nothing more satisfying than eating something that brings you right back to your childhood. One food-stuff that I remember fondly from the late 80’s and early 90’s is fish fingers. We didn’t have these very often at my family home, but they always went down well when we did.
These days fish finger sandwiches seem to occupy most pub menus, but I’m generally reluctant to try for fear of being faces with processed, tasteless and less than satisfying fish inside – thus killing a childhood memory right there. However every so often I get an craving for a fish finger – whether in a sandwich or on a seriously childish plate also occupied with chips and beans, and this week I had that urge.
The only option is to make my own, that way I know exactly how fresh the fish inside is, and I also know that it is only fish inside and no nasties. They are so simple to make, taste great and what’s more they are fun, and food should definitely be fun.
For this I used a large cod fillet, but you could use any white fish really. Haddock is a good option too, but you could equally use pollack, coley or even river cobbler that seems to be more and more readily available, and extremely economical. I also used the ‘flour, egg, breadcrumb’ method to coat, but if you preferred you could of course coat in a light batter and deep fry.
I served my sandwiches with some potato wedges that were par boiled, tossed in olive oil and then some Cajun spices, before baked in the oven for twenty minutes, and some garden peas – but the sandwich alone is enough for a Saturday, hung over lunch. The recipe below makes enough for three sandwiches.
1 large cod fillet
100g plain white flour
3 slices of bread, white or brown is fine
2 eggs, whisked
1 large ciabatta loaf
3 tablespoons of tartare sauce
Salt and pepper
½ lemon cut into 3 wedges to serve alongside
Firstly get the oven on to about 150 and place the ciabatta in there to warm up for about ten minutes.
Place the flour in a bowl and add a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper and mix well to ensure the seasoning is present throughout.
In a separate bowl crack the two eggs and whisk.
In a third bowl place the breadcrumbs. I tend to use whatever bread is in the house and just blitz in my food processor but it’s fine to use shop bought breadcrumbs or even panko if you prefer the taste or texture, or if you’re looking to save time.
Get about a level tablespoon of olive oil and place into a non-stick pan on a low heat so the pan heats up gently while you prepare the fingers.
Take out the ciabatta, portion up and cut in half to cool a little.
Cut the fish fillet into rectangle shaped pieces, trying to keep them as equally sized as possible. Then take each finger and coat first in the flour, then place into the egg, making sure the whole finger is covered and wet with egg wash. Finally place into the breadcrumbs and press down gently, then turn over and do the same to the over side.
Once all fingers are coated, cook them in two batches in your now-hot pan for about 2-3 minutes on each side. You want a crispy, golden brown exterior, and if the pan is nice and hot then this should be enough time to achieve that. When the first batch has turned golden brown place into an ovenproof dish and cook the others. Add them to the ovenproof dish. When the second batch is also golden brown, add to the ovenproof dish and place in the oven. I popped mine in for about three minutes as I had quite a fairly thin fillet, but if you are using a thicker piece of fish, then adjust the oven time accordingly, as this is just to ensure the fish is cooked through.
Whilst the fingers are in the oven, butter the ciabatta, and to each sandwich add a spoonful of the tartare sauce. Remove fingers from the oven and complete your sandwich. Serve with a wedge of lemon and whatever else you fancy, sit back and enjoy a seriously retro sarnie. Be warned, these are a little bit addictive, are great if you have kids and even better if you're a big kid yourself.