Champagne. Battery not included


Experimentation time again. With food, that is. Fish & chips were hankered after by all this evening, and the only thing you can really experiment with on that score is the batter (unless you start doing something downright silly, like parsnip chips).

So here goes… 200 grams of plain flour, 200 grams of cornflour, 5 heaped teaspoons of baking powder, a pinch of white pepper, a smattering of salt, and all sloshed around with a Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs (Champagne to you & me) and a slug of white wine vinegar. Then in the fridge for an hour (and in the freezer for 15 minutes directly before use).

The fish today is pollock, because it’s so fabulously sustainable, and remarkably cheap & cheerful. The selection today was all a tad on the skinny side, but what ho, just means a higher ratio of batter-per-mouthful.

My venerable deep-fat fryer is looking a little shell-shocked at the moment, so I kicked it up to 190 degrees (370 F) just to be sure. Remember that the oil is going to lose a lot of its heat as you place that chilled batter into it, so cook them one or two at a time, and then put them to rest on a baking tray lined with kitchen roll in a low (90C/190F degrees) oven, just to keep them warm and help to dry off any excess oil, before re-heating the oil back up to temperature and going for the next batch.

The mixture made for a deliciously light, yet crispy, batter, with some real flavour to it, especially compared to my more usual beer-batter, which I tend to find loses too much of its yeastiness (it’s better with British bitter, to be fair, but you don’t find that often in rural Normandy). The mushy peas were an optional extra for one diner tonight, as I can’t face the things myself.

There was some champers left over, of course, so what better to serve it with on a positively balmy spring evening?