Thursday, 2 August 2012
10.5 million - I am quite interested in statistics, in so far as the magnitude of some figures really does make you stop and think. This is the number of Birds Eye Fish Fingers sold each week. Part of my brain cannot even begin to compute what 10.5 million fish fingers looks like but one thing I do know is that whenever I eat them I am always struck by the overwhelming and highly distinctive taste of the coating. Savoury, salty, sweet, a certain umami quality and highly addictive. I wolf them down at a particularly alarming rate and usually pay the consequences an hour or so later. Cheap and quick or a guilty pleasure - highly processed food has its limitations, so as not to deny my loved ones, the desire to find a homemade alternative has resulted in these beauties.
Cod is not cheap, so a price comparison goes out the window with Birds Eye coming in at £6.49 a kilo and fresh sustainably sourced cod loin at £16.99 but as an occasional treat it's worth spending the money and at least you know what really constitutes a Fish Finger when you've made it yourself.
Homemade Fish Fingers
The secret is in the breadcrumbs. The first difficulty in relating this recipe is that it does not have any weights or measures - breadcrumbs come about from turning the odds and ends of the bread bin into a bag of crumbs and any left overs are put in the freezer for a later date. The second difficulty is a herb mixture which my father makes...he describes the making of it in very simple terms but as I've never actually seen him make it I cannot testify that it is as simple as he claims. But in essence, he picks sage, rosemary and mint and then with the addition of salt and pepper grinds it all to a very fine dust - so you are left with a dry herby salty condiment!
Take your breadcrumbs and fry them in a pan where you have already melted a good knob of butter and added smoked paprika and some herby salty condiment - the levels of spice are up to you and can be adjusted according to taste but I'd say go for it as the cod can take it and the ratio of fish far exceeds the crumb. Fry until crispy and drain on some kitchen paper to absorb the excess butter. When they have cooled return to the food processor and give another blitz to make a finer crumb.
Slice your fish into equal size fingers, coat first in seasoned flour, then egg, then the breadcrumbs.
Cover a grill pan with foil, lightly oil and bake remembering to turn over half way through.
Serve with Swedish mustard dill sauce and a large fresh salad.