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Oceana Magazine Winter 2009: Chef's Corner: Tom Aikens

Tom Aikens has made a name for himself, literally, with his eponymous fine dining restaurant located in London's chic Chelsea district. But Aikens, who was once the youngest chef to earn two Michelin stars, wasn't satisfied with becoming another celebrity chef.

Inspired by his late father-in-law Sir Nicholas Nuttall, who founded the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation, this accomplished chef has determined to make sustainably-sourced food the centerpiece of his cuisine.

In his new book Fish, Aikens promotes sustainable seafood in 200 recipes based on seasonality and ecologically responsible harvesting. While researching the book, Aikens traveled to markets worldwide to seek out the best and most environmentally-friendly dishes.

"Always know the chain of custody of your fish," Aikens said. "I try to buy directly from the source, the fisherman, so you are guaranteed the fish's provenance." Fish is available from Ebury Press. For more information, visit www.tomaikens.co.uk.

Fish & Chips

THICK CUT CHIPS

Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1 cm square batons the length of the potato. Wash the starch off the potato with cold running water, place into a pan of slightly salted cold water and bring to a rapid boil. Chill them straight away in cold water to stop them cooking any further.

Dry them off well and plunge into the hot oil at 140˚C to blanch for 2-3 minutes, then drain. Heat the oil back up to 180˚C. Then plunge the chips back into the oil until they are golden brown (4-5 minutes), then season with sea salt.
 
You will only have problems with the frying if the oil is not hot enough as they will not colour properly or go crispy, then they may become soggy.

When we cook the chips three times they will take on some of the water when they are blanched which not only helps the fluffiness of the potato, but also helps the potato being crisp as opposed to soggy. As after the chip has been blanched for the first time they have started to cook from the inside. So when the chip hits the oil for the first time they are cooking instead of being blanched. So for the last fry they will be crispy.

FISH AND CHIP BATTER 

400g high gluten bread flour 1.5 tsp salt
0.25 tsp white pepper
250ml Heineken 250ml Sparkling water

METHOD

Place flour and salt into a bowl. Mix the rest of ingredients together and leave to stand for a good 10 minutes. Then make a well in the flour, pour in the liquid and whisk to a batter.  Whisk very well in order to avoid lumps. The beer batter is best used after 15-20 minutes.  (If the batter is too thick, you can add more liquid - sparkling water and Heineken).


FOR THE DISH

4x100g fillets of pollock
50g flour

Place the pollock into the flour, then into the batter and then fry at 180˚C.

TARTAR SAUCE

4 egg yolks
0.75g milled black pepper
10g English mustard
8g lemon juice
15g white wine vinegar
750ml vegetable oil
2 tbsp water
5g salt
75g chopped gherkins
75g chopped capers
10g chopped parsley
75g chopped shallots

Whisk the mustard, salt, pepper, and egg yolk in a bowl then slowly pour the oil on to the egg yolks whisking well, keep adding all the oil, you will need to add a little water to the mayonnaise as it may get to thick and split. Then once all the oil has been added place the rest of the ingredients into the mayonnaise. Tartar sauce is great with battered fish, as it cuts through the oily batter.