We always try to come up with different appetizers to start off a night of drinks with friends. There is something about deep frying that adds a bit of a dramatic effect to the night as, especially now, people tend to shy away from the splattering of hot oil while hosting a dinner. From time-to-time it is well worth the effort, and though everyone says they want light and simple, they truly want over-the-top delicious.
Frozen food was never in the house growing up, so there was an added charm to a good night out at a friend’s house, where Gorton’s Fish Sticks would be baked and topped up with a slice of individually wrapped yellow cheese. They were always crowd pleasers, though I’d guess it would not be less of a big hit now.
One night, we were hankering for some throw-back treat and decided to make our own fish sticks, this time using halibut from a fresh seafood market. Instead of topping with cheese, we made a herbed basil mayonnaise as a dip.
- For the Dip
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- 1/4 cup fill sprigs, stems removed, packed full
- 1/2 cup basil, packed full
- 2 tablespoons tarragon leaves
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2-3 drizzles of Sriracha
- For the Fried Fish Fingers
- 2 pounds of haddock, cut into 1 inch strips, patted dry
- 10 cups of canola oil for deep frying the fish
- 2 cups of cornmeal, you can you finely ground or course, depends on the crunch factor you desire
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup buttermilk with two tablespoons of sriracha sauce whisked in
- 2 extra large eggs
- Place all the ingredients for the dip in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, then pulse until fully combined. It is best to do this a few hours in advance and let the ingredients come together in the refrigerator.
- Combine the cornmeal, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
- Beat two eggs, add the buttermilk and sriracha, then whisk together. Put the fish strips in and let set for 5 minutes, then use tongs to remove. Shake off excess and dip in the cornmeal before laying out on a baking sheet.
- Put the oil in a heavy pot with a candy thermometer, getting the temperature to 350 degrees. Add each piece of fish one at a time, but be quick about it as they cook in a minute. Use a slotted spoon to turn each strip once, then remove and drain on a paper grocery bag or paper towels. Season with salt and serve.