Fish, chips and vinegar go back a long way in England. Here in this recipe the concept is similar, with batter and chips both included, and a warm lemon sauce served to accompany the fish. The chips are thin wedges of fennel, shows that here is the summer, dipped in a cider batter and deep-fried until crisp and golden.
Ingredients for four: 25 gr butter, pike fillets, salt and pepper, shallot, sliced into rings, 2 tbs of white vine vinegar, juice of orange or lemon, pinch of caster sugar, rosemary or tarragon
for the fennel chips: 2-3 medium bulbs of fennel, oil for deep frying
for the batter: 300 ml cider sweet less acidic, 175 gr self-raising flour, plus more for coating, sifted
Preheat oven for 180 grades/350 F and a deep fryer to 180 grades. Using a small knob of butter grease a roasting tray. Season with a twist of salt and pepper. Separate the shallot rings and scatter them accross. Mix together the white wine vinegar, orange or lemon luice, caster sugar and black peppercorns along with 100 ml of water. Place the fillets on top of the shallots and pour the liqour over. Bring to a very gentle simmer, until just giving off a little stream. Cover with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes until fillets are just firm to the touch.
While the fish is steam-poaching prepare fennel. Trim them of their stalk tops and remove and bruised outside layers. Halve each bulb lengtwise and cut these halves into 5 mms wedges. Season with salt and pepper.
To make the batter, whisk the cider into sifted flour. Lighltly flour a handful of the fennel wedges, dip each into the batter and place in the preheated deep-fat fryer. Cook until golden brown. Then drain, season with salt and keep warm in the oven while continuing the rest. Once cooked remove the fish from the oven and tray, keep warm to one side. Reduce the oven temperature to 140/ 275 F using purely as a hot “cupboard” for the fish and fennel chips while making the sauce.
Transfer the pike court-bouillon to a saucepan, bring it to boil and reduce volume by half. Whisk in the butter and torn rosemary twig or tarragon, then season with salt and pepper.
To serve: place the fish fillets on warmed plates, pouring any excess fish juices into the sauce. Sprinkle few sea salt flakes over each fillet. Arrange stacks of fennel chips beside and spoon the sauce over the fillets.
The fennel chips are also nice to serve as a snack or starter with mayonnaise!