How to make vegan fish and chips

PUBLISHED: 11:42 09 December 2020

Fish and chips? Not quite... Photo by Mark Fitch

Fish and chips? Not quite... Photo by Mark Fitch

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Try something different for Veganuary - using banana blossom!

Fresh banana blossom with spring onion - the blossom is a popular dish in south-east Asian cuisine. Photo Getty Images/iStockphotoFresh banana blossom with spring onion - the blossom is a popular dish in south-east Asian cuisine. Photo Getty Images/iStockphoto

I had been looking forward to this month’s write-up for some time. With Veganuary poised to have even more notoriety than last year, I was excited to find someone or somewhere to increase my knowledge on the subject. For over a year now, Mrs F in the Kitchen has been vegan. And as the sharing of food plays an important role at home, my eating habits have become predominantly plant-based too.

Generally speaking, the ups have far outweighed the downs. Take, for instance, the king oyster mushroom. Who would have thought that its stalk can morph itself, with a little clever creativity, into pulled pork, chicken satay and scallops? There has also been a specific health benefit to me. The sub four-hour marathon has always seemed far beyond me. But after several months of plant-based eating and specifically, during lockdown#1, I had taken a whole minute off my marathon mile pace (shame my marathon this year was cancelled).

I write this article in the middle of a torrential rain shower and, more relevantly, the middle of lockdown#2. As I have mentioned earlier in the year, I try to be a law-abiding roving reporter and so I am again confined to my own kitchen.

Fresh banana blossom sliced lengthwise to show the fleshy insides. Photo Getty Images/iStockphotoFresh banana blossom sliced lengthwise to show the fleshy insides. Photo Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Perhaps the only vegan metamorphosis more astounding than the aforesaid majestic mushroom is that of banana blossom becoming a beautiful piece of battered haddock. I don’t know who first thought of delving into the head of a fruit-bearing banana tree rather than focussing on the little green/yellow fingers behind it. Someone similar, I imagine, to he or she who (for whatever reason) vigorously shook some chickpea can juice and discovered an alternative to whisked egg white.

I had tried making banana blossom fish once before. It didn’t turn out well... but I was aware of three places close to home where I could, in normal times, seek assistance. As it was, I would just have to try harder myself. Thankfully, this effort was a success.

I bought my raw material from Rainbow, off Guildhall in Norwich. One can holds two fully intact pieces of blossom; each a delicate stem, attached to which are a line of leafy strands (which when deep-fried in batter resemble fishy flakes). I still can’t get over it!

So how did I got it right this time? It’s all in the flour dredging. An initial coating in flour is essential if you want batter to stick to whatever you are frying.

For two pieces, I used 120g of flour, 1 teaspoon each of baking powder, garlic powder and smoked paprika and half a sheet of nori (the seaweed that sushi rolls come in) - all whizzed up in a blender. Gently, I dredged the two pieces in the flour mixture and put to one side. I then added 200ml of Woodforde’s Wherry bitter to the remaining flour and that was my batter. Deep fat fryer set to 190C and five minutes later, I’d made battered fish.

Give it a try this month! Or try vegan restaurants Erpingham House, in Norwich’s Tombland, River Green Cafe in Trowse, or Lucy’s on Norwich market.

Follow Mark on Instagram @norfolkhomechef2018

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