I remember the first time I had fish and chips as a new arrival in Australia, back in 2003. I had wandered inside a fish and chips shop in Circular Quay in search of some lunch, and left with a huge parcel of greaseproof paper, wondering if I’d ordered an extra-large serving by mistake. At the time, I was not yet accustomed to Western-sized servings.
So after finding a grassy spot to sit down, I began unwrapping my lunch. As soon as the package was opened, I was hit with the heady aroma of deep-fried goodness. Inside were lots of straight-cut potato chips and two fillets of battered barramundi.
It was delicious.
And so began my introduction to one of the most ubiquitous culinary offerings in Australia. It was also the beginning of an addiction to a substance called ‘chicken salt’, which took me years to kick. (For the uninitiated, chicken salt is a type of flavoured salt that’s used liberally to season chips).
These days, I try to maintain a healthy diet so I do my best to limit the amount of deep-fried food in my diet. Of course, I still get cravings for fish and chips, so it’s just as well that a healthier version can be made easily at home.
Here, I’ve adapted and expanded on a recipe I originally found in Fitness Food, published by Murdoch Books. There is no deep-frying to be found in this version of fish and chips, but it still tastes fantastic.
The potato wedges are seasoned with Cajun seasoning instead of chicken salt, and baked to golden perfection in the oven. I also boil the wedges before baking, which cuts down on cooking time and keeps them moist inside.
Meanwhile, I’ve added a simple Greek-style marinade to the fish, which lends it some extra flavour since it’s not plunged into a sinful pot of hot oil. The fish is also crusted instead of battered.
I’ve substituted the traditional tartare sauce with sour cream, which I find to be a better accompaniment to the wedges. Whoever came up with the idea of eating potato wedges with sweet chilli sauce and sour cream was a genius.
Now, the full-fat sour cream I use isn’t the healthiest, but I treat the sour cream as a small indulgence in an otherwise healthy dish. Of course, the decision to include the sour cream is entirely your own.
Oven Baked Fish & Chips
2 servings, as a main
Inspired by Fitness Food by Murdoch Books
2 firm white fish fillets, such as cod, hoki or barramundi
2 medium potatoes, cut into wedges
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
Lemon wedges, to serve
Sour cream, to serve (optional)
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp sea salt or rock salt
or use 3 tsp store-bought Cajun seasoning
1 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (preferably Greek)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Pinch of salt
Dash of black pepper
Mix marinade ingredients together in a small bowl. Coat fish fillets with marinade and refrigerate covered, for at least one hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Lightly grease a large 30 x 20cm (12 x 8 inch) baking dish with olive oil.
To make the Cajun seasoning, toast the coriander and cumin seeds on a dry, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat until aromatic and seeds begin to pop. Remove from heat and grind in a mortar and pestle into a fine powder. Add the chilli flakes, paprika, salt and mix well. Set aside.
In a saucepan, boil potato wedges until barely cooked. The potatoes should remain firm. Drain and return wedges to empty saucepan or a large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil to the wedges and toss through, ensuring wedges are coated evenly. Add Cajun seasoning and mix well. Arrange wedges in a single layer on one side of the baking dish.
Place the marinated fish fillets on the other side of the baking dish. In a small bowl, mix the beaten egg and breadcrumbs together. Spoon the mixture on top of the fish fillets.
Bake the fish and chips in the oven for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and cooked though. Halfway during cooking, turn the wedges to ensure even cooking.
Serve with lemon wedges and a side salad or steamed vegetables. Top with sour cream, if desired.