I’ve been making a variation of this dish for years. My children love it and it is just the ticket when you crave something with big flavours, crunch and comfort. Think of it as healthy, fish and chips with an Italian twist.
The various elements stand-alone and will work with all sorts of other dishes. My version has nothing to do with a fryer and uses some clever tricks to replicate the crunch of a fried batter without the heaviness.
I think this is a dish to convert fish-phobes. It can be made with most types of fish, I often make it with pan fried squid too – for a deconstructed calamari. You can serve the crumbs, chips and pea puree with chicken too if someone really is anti fish.
Herby, crunchy pangrattato aka poor man’s Parmesan is a fabulous way to elevate your cooking and has so many uses, not least as a pasta topper, see my one pan pasta recipe here. It is my favourite thing to made with my stash of frozen breadcrumbs.
- Pangrattato can be made a day ahead and reheated in a dry frying pan.
- Potatoes can be sliced an hour ahead and left cut side down on the tray.
- Pea and broccoli mash can be made ahead and reheated in the microwave – but it will only be 90% as good as when it is freshly made.
170-220g (around a quarter pound) per person of your choice of skinless, boneless cod fillet
a half tablespoon olive or rapeseed oil
a half teaspoon sea salt or a teaspoon of sea salt flakes
4 fist-size floury potatoes, scrubbed and skin left on
1 tablespoon olive oil or rapeseed oil
a half teaspoon sea salt or a teaspoon of sea salt flakes
a bulb of garlic, cloves separated but skin left on
a stem or two of rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled but squashed with a knife
2 handfuls stale breadcrumbs (not the dry yellow kind!)
1 stem of rosemary
sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, red chilli flakes to taste
zest of an un-waxed lemon, and the remaining lemon sliced as thinly as you can
Broccoli pea mash
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets, stalks and all (or you could use kale)
1 clove garlic, peeled but left whole
450g (3 cups) of frozen peas
1 tablespoon olive oil or an avocado, cubed
a handful of basil or mint leaves
half a lemon, juice and zest
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 210°C (190°C fan) 410°F (375°F convection) and boil a kettle or pan of water.
- Chop potatoes in half, length-ways, then slice each half into 6-8 finger size strips. Toss with a tablespoon of olive oil then spread onto a parchment-lined baking sheet along with the whole unpeeled cloves of garlic and stems of rosemary. Sprinkle with salt and bake for around 30 minutes, turning once half way through.
- Start to make your pangrattato by heating the olive oil in a frying pan on a medium heat along with the garlic, lemon zest, lemon slices, a pinch of chilli flakes and the stem of rosemary. Cook for a minute or two to flavour the oil, and start to caramelise the lemon. After a minute, add the breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Continue to cook on a medium-high heat for around 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so until it smells toasty and garlicy and rustles dryly when you shake it. Take off the heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Scrape into a bowl and set aside.
- Check your potatoes, give them a shake.
- While your potatoes cook, boil broccoli stem and florets and a whole clove of peeled garlic in a lidded saucepan until it is soft, around 6-8 minutes.
- Your potatoes should almost be ready by now – crunchy and golden on the outside, fluffy within. Don’t start cooking your fish until the potatoes are almost ready.
- Put your fish in an oven-proof dish. Rub the fish with a little olive oil, sea salt and black pepper.
- When the potatoes are ready, leave them in the oven and put the fish into the oven on a lower shelf and leave to cook for around 8 minutes (this will vary depending on the thickness of your fish and the heat of your oven). You will see the side of the fish turns opaque as the heat travels up and cooks the fish.
- Add the frozen peas to the pan of broccoli and take off the heat. Set aside for a minute to let the hot water defrost the peas and the coldness of the peas stop the broccoli cooking. Drain and put into a food processor with the oil or avocado, herbs, salt and pepper and lemon juice and zest. Pulse, scraping down the sides a couple of times until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning then set aside.
- The fish will continue to cook after it comes out of the heat so you want to ever so slightly under-do it at this stage. You are after soft flakes of fish with a slight glimmer of moisture rather than totally opaque, dry fish. You can gently pull a piece in half to see the centre to check.
- Once your fish is ready, transfer it to the serving plate and do a final check for bones. The bones become more prominent when it is cooked as the flesh shrinks back, making them pop out and become looser. If making this for small children, you may want to gently flake their fish and check for bones before serving.
- Serve the fish with a blob of the mash underneath and with pangrattato and caramelized lemon slices scattered over the top. Serve the chips alongside with a splash of white wine or malt vinegar if you like. Eat immediately.
You can now buy the equipment I use in this recipe through my shop. I’ve spent years testing my favourite bits of equipment so rest-assured that whatever I recommend is the best tool for the job and will give you great results without cluttering your kitchen with unused tools. You can also buy my other bits of essential kitchen equipment through this post.
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