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VEGAN “FISH” & CHIPS
What’s a trip to the seaside without a round of fish and chips? This is definitely one of our top ten missed dishes when we switched to a plant-based lifestyle, but allow us to gift you a totally fish-less version of this gorgeous Great British classic. A crunchy outer, a soft middle and a satisfying bite. You’re so welcome.
FOR THE MARINADE
- 1 lemon
- 200ml white wine
- 1 tbsp caper brine (water from a jar of capers)
- 1 tsp salt
FOR THE BATTER
- 180g plain flour
- 40g cornflour
- 1⁄2 tsp black pepper
- 240ml ale
- 1⁄2 tsp salt
- 2 x 280g packets extra-firm tofu
- 4 large Maris Piper or other fluffy potatoes (about 1kg)
- 3 sheets nori
- vegetable oil, for deep frying
- 2 lemons, to serve
- ketchup, to serve
- Tofu press (or use two clean tea towels and a weight like a heavy book)
- Large saucepan
- Clean tea towel
- Cocktail sticks
- Small saucepan
- Large deep saucepan
- Thermometer (optional)
- 2 large plates covered with kitchen paper
- 2 baking trays
Press the tofu using a tofu press or place it between 2 clean tea towels, lay it on a plate and put a weight on top. Leave it for at least half an hour to drain any liquid and firm up before you start cooking.
Once the tofu is pressed, drain away any liquid that has collected on the plate. Cut the block lengthways down the middle so that you have 2 long rectangles, then cut across each rectangle to make 8 even-sized blocks. You should end up with 16 tofu pieces that are all the same size.
Make the marinade by cutting the lemon in half and squeezing the juice into a bowl, catching any pips with your other hand. Add the white wine, caper brine and salt and stir to combine. Add the tofu, turning to cover it in the marinade. Set aside to marinate, turning the tofu occasionally.
Fill the large saucepan with water and bring it to the boil on a high heat. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1cm thick chips. Tip them into the hot water, bring it back to the boil and cook for 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes, spread them out over a clean tea towel and leave them to dry.
To make the batter, put the flour, cornflour, salt and pepper into a mixing bowl and stir to mix. Slowly pour in the ale, whisking continuously so that no lumps form. Set aside once you have a smooth batter.
Use scissors to cut 16 rectangles of nori the same size as the sides of the tofu blocks. Take a piece of tofu out of the marinade and stick one of the nori pieces to it (the wetness of the tofu will help it stick). Hold the nori in place with 2 cocktail sticks. Repeat so that all the tofu pieces have a piece of nori on one side.
Heat the oven to 180°C. Cut the lemons into wedges.
Pour the vegetable oil into the deep saucepan so that it comes no more than two-thirds up the side of the pan. Put the pan on medium-high and heat to about 140°C (this is a fairly low temperature for deep frying so if you don’t have a thermometer, put a chip in the pan to test the temperature: when it’s ready the chip should float but take a little while to brown).
Put half the chips in the hot oil and deep fry for 3–4 minutes, then take them out with a slotted spoon and spread them out on the kitchen paper for a few minutes to cool down slightly. Put the rest of the chips into the oil and repeat, spreading them over the other plate of kitchen paper to cool. Turn up the heat and get the oil really hot, around 180°C (this should make a wooden spoon dipped in the oil sizzle around the edges).
Carefully put the first batch of chips back in the hot oil and fry them for 4–5 minutes, until they’re really golden and crispy. Take the chips out of the oil with a slotted spoon and spread them over one of the baking trays. Sprinkle the chips with sea salt and put the tray in the oven to keep the chips warm. Bring the oil back up to 180°C and tip in the second batch of chips. After 4–5 minutes, remove and spread over the second baking tray.
Get the oil back up to 180°C and line the plates with fresh kitchen paper.
Take the nori-lined tofu blocks and dip them into the batter in batches, turning them carefully so that they’re completely covered. Carefully drop the battered Tofu ‘fish’ into the hot oil and fry for 3–4 minutes, until they’re dark golden brown all over (you may need to cook them in batches if there isn’t much room and so that the temperature of the oil doesn’t drop too low). Remove the tofu ‘fish’ with a slotted spoon and drain the pieces on kitchen paper for 30 seconds, then carefully remove the cocktail sticks. Repeat so that all the tofu blocks are double-dipped in two coats of batter.
Take the chips out of the oven and immediately. Serve them up on to warm plates. Divide the crispy tofu ‘fish’ pieces between the plates. Serve with some tomato ketchup and the lemon wedges on the side to squeeze over the tofu.