Dana Slatkin

Smoky Fish and Chips

Deep-Fried Fish

Among chefs, restaurateurs, and food retailers trying to entice fickle foodies in this shaky economy, the latest buzzword is pop-up. There are moveable feasts turning up everywhere, resurrecting shuttered restaurants, re-purposing basements, and invigorating department stores. For the hungry and adventurous, it is the equivalent of speed dating, a noncommittal way to form a flavorful yet fleeting connection.


So I got to thinking about what I would prepare if I were the pop-up chef. And for some reason, this crowd-pleasing fish ’n chips came to mind. Quick to prepare and primally satisfying, it is what I make when company pops over unexpectedly. The quality of the fish and the hint of smoky Spanish paprika take this comfort staple from diner to deluxe…without the investment.

With a stash of homemade bread crumbs in the freezer, you’ll just need a quick drive-by to your best fish supplier to find the freshest fish available (for tips on selecting and storing fish, click here. I dry the fish immediately and cut it into the same cottage shape as the fries (long and thick). Rub the fish with a quick, semi-homemade aioli, the perfect garlicky glue for the breading. Then shallow-fry them and serve them piping hot, stacked up on a platter like Lincoln Logs, with the oven fries in the middle.

This versatile dish can go global in an instant, paired with the Indian Tomato Chutney I posted last week, or a Middle Eastern creamy Yogurt Sauce, a sweet and spicy Thai cucumber salad, a dash of malt vinegar, or simple lemon wedges. Master it and you’ll always be ready for whatever company — or craving — pops up.

Here are a few accompaniments you’ll love with my Smoky Fish and Chips: Spicy Tomato Chutney, Tomato Cheddar Salad with Creamy Yogurt Dressing, and Lemon Caper Dipping Sauce.

Enter the September cooking contest for a chance to win some fabulous additions to your kitchen collection!

Photo credit: tastespotting.com

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