One of the best little things that have happened lately is that an old friend of mine became a modern fishmonger. Once a week, Baaf and his partner Roel drive to the Dutch North Sea coast to a tiny fisher village near the harbor of Ijmuiden to buy smoked makerels, sole and cod. At Lauwersoog, the local fishermen collective, which is tellingly called “goede vissers” (the “good fishermen”) supplies the boys with wild oysters and unpeeled prawns. These guys don`t even use fishing nets! And if Roel and Baaf can’t sell all the oysters, they throw them back into the sea. The cavity within the shells of the oysters is always filled with water so they can survive almost two weeks outside the ocean.
When I first met Baaf, he was still studying military history in Amsterday, working in the kitchen of a student restaurant. A month ago, we reunited at their market stall in Markthalle 9 in Berlin-Kreuzberg. Markthalle 9 is one of only three remaining market halls of once 14 that were built in the 19th century. 130 years ago, the market hall was constructed to get a grip on the informal trade on the streets. Now it’s a hub for delicious street food, artisanal products and hip people. If you want to find out more about this special place, you should check out this article on SlowTravel Berlin.
It can be quite difficult to find fresh fish in Berlin. Is it too far away from the sea? Is there no demand? Too many vegetarians? Don’t the people know how to prepare it? I’m not sure. What I know for sure is that “Küstlichkeiten”– Roels and Baafs business- has hit a nerve. At least with me. That’s why I made fish and chips the other day. And I used only 5 ingredients. And it was to-die-for! Which proves, once again, how easy it is to create a delicious dish with just a couple of quality ingredients.
Fish & Chips
Ingredients (serves 5 hungry eaters):
- 8-10 potatoes
- filets of 1 whole cod
- 200g all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 300 ml beer (I used white beer)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 300 ml sunflower oil for frying
- Preheat the oven on 180 °C.
- Filet the fish unless that’s been done for you at the fishmongers.
- Slice the potatoes into wedges, put them on a baking tray covered with parchment, drizzle with oil and gently sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place tray in the oven.
- Pour the oil into a deep pot and heat it on maximum temperature. The pot should be no more than half full to avoid spillovers and burns!
- For the batter, season the flour with some salt and pepper and slowly whisk in the beer.
- Cut the filets into 5-10 smaller pieces and coat them with flour. Season with salt and pepper.
- Then dip the pieces into the batter one by one and carefully lower them into the hot oil. I fried about four at the same time so that they don’t stick to each other and I used a ladle to get them in and out of the hot oil.
- If you don’t use massive amouts of oil, you’ll have to turn the fish after a minute or so.
- Remove the filets once they look golden brown and drain them on old newspaper pages.
- Serve with the potatoe wedges, dill, mayonnaise, salt and vinegar or mushy peas
Tip: I highly recommend fennel with the dish: braise it, boil it or put it in the oven with the potatoes!