Chef, restaurateur and cookbook author Erin French is stopping by the TODAY kitchen to cook up a Friday night fish fry with recipes from her new cookbook, "Big Heart Little Stove: Bringing Home Meals & Moments from The Lost Kitchen." She shows us how to make crispy fried fish fillets — and how to serve them in traditional newspaper cones — rosemary-scented French fries, a garlicky mayo dipping sauce and a sweet spring fruit sipper.
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When I first started working at my family's diner as a young girl, I spent most of the time cleaning up after my dad as he bounced from griddle to stovetop, pumping out meal after meal at the busy roadside restaurant. Then, when the time came for me to try my hand at cooking, the first task he awarded me with was frying fish for the diner's signature Fish Fry Night. You could say my culinary career was born in that fryolator that day. And yes, I now know a thing or two about making perfectly fried fish. Or as I like to think of it, the fried fish that all fish dream they'll grow up to be.
For a full-on dinner, be sure to make a batch of frites to go alongside and some coleslaw and tartar sauce or garlicky mayo! For extra-credit, serve the fish in a newspaper cone (scroll down for instructions).
Homemade french fries will always merit the time and energy because not only can you achieve the crispy outside-soft inside golden ratio, but you can also eat them as intended — within seconds of coming out of the fryer. Plus, show me a drive-thru that sprinkles their fries with fresh rosemary or serves them with homemade Garlic Mayo Sauce on the side. Add a basket of these to a meal, and there's not a person at the table who won't get the heartfelt message: You're worth it.
Since my fridge is usually overflowing with eggs from my chicken coop, I'm always looking for ways to make sure that they get put to good use. Making mayonnaise is one my favorite solutions — it's not only simple, but it's also consistently satisfying. And I love how this spread becomes downright elegant when made from scratch. Not to mention more flavorful than anything you could buy from the store.
A regular go-to as one of the late spring, early summer "first sips" that I offer as guests arrive at the restaurant, this refreshing fermented fruit-based drink gives a surprising kick of vinegar. You can also easily change up this sweet-tart combo with all kinds of different fruits — like peaches, blueberries or plums. Think of it as a way to take a snapshot of whatever is perfectly ripe and in season at that moment, and don't hold back from mixing, matching and making it your own.
The greatest thing about a shrub, though, is that the concentrate lasts for up to a month in your fridge, so you can pull it out anytime you want to make someone — or yourself — feel special. It's minimum effort for maximum impact.
How to make newspaper cones for a fish fry
Just like at a proper British chippy, I think the best way to serve fried fish or any other fried bits — is wrapped in a newspaper cone. It's fun and (relatively) free and lends a sense of humor to whatever it is you're serving. I like to line mine with parchment paper, so they hold up well with even the oiliest contents.
- 11- by 11-inch squares of newspaper
- 12- by 12-inch square of parchment paper
- Fold the square of newspaper in half to create a triangle. Cut along the fold to create two triangular pieces of paper. Do the same with the parchment paper.
- With the long straight edge of the newspaper towards you and the point facing away, take the right-hand corner and fold it towards the top point. Pull the left-hand corner up to meet the other two so all three tips meet. Fold them down to the center of the cone to secure them. Set aside and repeat with the second piece of newspaper and two pieces of parchment.
- Insert the parchment cones inside the newspaper cones and fill with something tasty.