Fish, Chips, and Squash Fritters

from Food

Prep and cook time: 30 minutes

Cost: $4.70

tilapia: $4, flour: .10, oil: .60

4 tilapia fillets, cut in half along the dark line in the middle (this makes them skinnier, not flatter--so you'll have 8 long skinny-ish fillets, not 8 flat, wide fillets)

2/3 C flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 Tbsp vinegar

2/3 C water

Heat a pan with oil. I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet. I used vegetable oil. You only need about 2 inches of oil. Heat it until it's about 270 degrees (or the point at which you can drop some batter in and have it sizzle and float to the top).

While it heats, combine flour and salt in medium sized bowl.

Combine baking soda and vinegar. It's going to bubble up. Add 1/3 C water to this and stir.

Add that to the flour and then add the other 1/3 C water. Whisk your batter (with a whisk) until it's smooth.

Test your oil. Drop a dollop of batter in. It should sizzle and float to the top. If it doesn't this, give your oil a few more minutes to warm up (or cool down) because if you put these into your oil too soon, you could ruin them.

Dip your fish into your batter. The batter will coat the fish. Place the fish into the oil. Unless you want to look like you've been making fries at McDonald's for years, please be careful. Your battered fish is going to sizzle and spit. On my first round, I played it dangerous and used my hands to do this. I held the very end of the fish and gently placed it in the water--you DO NOT want splashing oil. (To flip the fish, I wised up and got some long BBQ tongs. That was less stressful as I was much further from the oil, although I'm not sure if the tongs would have cause the raw fish to break apart...)

After the batter on the bottom of your fish is a dark golden color (and the top will be cooked, but not dark golden), flip the fish. Use tongs if you're clever. It should be mostly cooked, so flipping should be pretty easy with tongs. Cook the other side until it is dark golden.

Place fish on a paper towel-lined plate and, for goodness sake, let them cool a few minutes before you bite it or you will burn your tongue hopelessly.

Squash Fritters

Make these with some extra batter. You can actually put whatever the heck kind of veggie you wish inside of them: corn, broccoli, whatever, or--you know--chunks of cheese for the particularly fat-conscious. We used yellow squash and it was great. If you'd like an actual recipe, here you go.

2/3 C flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 Tbsp vinegar

2/3 C water

2 C little squash cubes

Chop squash into very small cubes (1/2 centimeter or so). (Take out any seedy sections in the middle.)

Prepare other ingredients as stated above (mix flour and salt; mix baking soda and vinegar; add water to vinegar solution; add vinegar solution to flour; add remaining water). Whisk the batter, then add squash cubes.

Be sure oil is at right temp (about 270 degrees).

Your batter will seem really loose and you're going to think that this will never work. Have faith my friend.

Put your batter into a large table spoon (as in a large spoon that you use for eating). Hold the spoon just above the hot oil and CAREFULLY scoot the batter into the oil with your finger or another spoon (do this as though you're putting cookie batter onto a cookie sheet). If your oil is the right temp, the batter will almost instantly cohere to its blobby little self. (If your oil is too cool, it will spread out and be a gross mess. If your oil is too hot it will sizzle and spit so much that you will fear for your skin, so be careful to test it before putting your fritter in.) Repeat your little blobs until the pan is full. Don't let the blobs touch each other.

Cook until dark golden on the bottom. Flip and cook until dark golden on the top.

Eat hot, with dipping sauce if you care not for the low-fat guidelines of the '80s and '90s.

NOTE: To reheat the fritters or the fish, put them on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 until they're hot, crisp and golden again. (Seriously, my leftover fritters were these nasty soggy things, but a few good minutes in the oven and I could barely tell they weren't freshly prepared. In fact, I think I might have liked them a little better the second time around.)

Posted by The Tasty Cheapskate: