Friday, 27 September 2013

The Cod Dog

Well it’s been a while. The trouble with actually having a summer here in the UK is it’s hard getting anything that’s not 100% essential done. Why would you when the sun is shining and there is fun to be had in the great outdoors? Alas as autumn rears its less attractive head I decided it was time. Time to focus and return to the blog….so, in the words of Take That; Babe, I’m back again.

I was thinking perhaps a good way to bridge the blog gap would be to cast my mind back to the food highs and lows of the last few months and create a recipe that epitomised the summer for me. But where to begin…..over the past few months I’d literally consumed hundreds of mouthfuls, meals and snacks. At least now, being one of those annoying people who take a picture of everything they eat, I had something to jog my memory.

I began to reminisce about recent food enjoyed alfresco; The laughter that accompanied more than a few portions of chips and curry sauce….always on Whitstable beach, always washed down with a plastic cup of Prosecco.  The taste and smell of just caught, then chargrilled fish eaten on a deserted beach in Portugal.  A hell of a lot of pizza too, naturally.

I started thinking about an occasion that really bought home this summer for me, surely it had to be the BBQ, and the place I had spent most time at this summer? Now that I had returned to Kent from London, it was definitely the beach. A sharp contrast to last year; where hot days off would be spent lounging in one of the capitals lovely parks or clustered with friends on a scrap of pavement outside a sunny central London pub.  

At pretty much all the BBQ’s I had been to there had usually been a banger of some description on offer. From the simplest of affairs cooked on a disposable grill to an elaborate Dad-manned-gas-BBQ-get-up, you were getting a hotdog. That, I’d put money on. But while my love for the sausage was strong I couldn’t neglect all the wonderful fish and seafood and the many hours I’d been lucky enough to spend beside the sea this summer.

I had to combine to two. Hello beach, please meet BBQ, and so it emerged, the fish dog. I’d had a one before from a street food van aptly named Hix’s FishDog(see what they did there). But I would create my own, with added brilliance, of course. It would essentially be a pimped up version of the fish finger sandwich. I wanted mine to be special though, a thank you to such a great summer 2013 and one that even the legendary Captain Birdseye would be proud of. A meal in itself, that was easy to eat and would remind me of those summer days long after sunset. Thus the emergence of (drumroll please)…. The Cod Dog.

So here’s my reminder of the long, hot, sensational summer of 2013. I am sure the next year will be just as good and besides we have the promise of delicious mulled wine to get us through the upcoming chillier weeks with rosy cheeks and a smile.

Lucy’s Cod Dogs
Takes about 45 mins Makes 4

4 cod loins, or fillets, skinless (about 125g each)
50g each panko breadcrumbs and cornflakes (yes you read correctly, cornflakes, not crunchy nut please just the old school one’s, they give a great colour and texture too.)
1 large beaten egg
2 tbsp flour
2 medium potatoes, sliced about ½ cm thick, no need to peel
2 tsp malt vinegar, plus a splash more
salt and sunflower oil
chopped fresh dill (if you are putting it in the sauce anyway)
2 heaped tbsp. mayo or light mayo if you should prefer
1 heap tbsp. ketchup
1 tsp chopped dill
about 1 tbsp chopped red onion
1 small cornichon, chopped (optional) I can hear the complaints already about this, so just leave it out if you like but it does go well!
About ½ tsp vinegar, from the cornichon jar, if using.
Pack 4 sub rolls, I used M&S ones (I decided not to make the bread as for ease of eating it needed to be really soft, white and larger than your average finger roll and I think homemade bread often is a little too crusty in texture. I settled on this M&S sub roll, which I knew from experience, was a keeper.)
8 slices mild cheese
Handful shredded iceberg lettuce

1.Pat the fish dry. Put the crumbs and cornflakes in a food bag, seal and bash with a rolling pin. Not too fine, a bit of texture is good! Arrange on a plate. Dust each fish in flour, then season and dip in egg then coat in the breakfast crumbs. Repeat then asset aside on greaseproof paper in the fridge while you get on with the other stuff.

2 Heat oven to 220C/200Cfan/gas 7. Line a tray with parchment and drizzle with oil and salt, put in the oven. Put the potatoes in a shallow microwaveable dish with some salt, the malt vinegar and then cover with cling film and pierce a few times. Microwave on full power for 5 mins, shaking half way. Arrange in a single layer on the preheated tray, drizzle with more oil and salt then the extra malt vinegar. Cook for 30 mins, turning half way then sprinkle on the dill and cook for 5 mins more. 

3 Heat a shallow layer of oil until hot in a frying pan, cook the fish for about 3-4 mins each side, until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on kitchen paper and season with salt.

4. Meanwhile mix all the sauce ingredients. Split the rolls; add a dollop of sauce too each and spread. Add the cheee, some lettuce and a few potatoes and finally the cod dog. Eat! While this is really tasty eaten when the fish is piping hot, left to cool to room temperature it’s also good too. So why not make a batch and head down to the nearest beach for a blustery walk!