Hello Readers! I’m going to talk, again, today about some healthy alternatives for meals. Today’s focus is a family favorite: Fish ‘n Chips. My first experience with Fish ‘n Chips was in London when I toured Europe as a teen, and I fell in love with the British classic from the beginning! But, since then, I have learned that true Fish ‘n Chips is packed with calories and fat! Besides being fried in oil, the breading can contain a lot of added calories and wheat. If made with a beer batter, the fish can contain yeast from wheat or barley, as if the breading wasn’t enough. And malt vinegar contains yeast since it’s made from ale. Now, while whole wheat can be good for you, the yeast in wheat-like that found in some beers, along with barley yeast-can make you feel bloated and can add to the inches around your waist. They don’t call it a beer gut for nothing!
So, it’s time to draw our attention on how to make this dish healthy and still flavorful.
To start this meal, let’s look at the fish. Normally, the fish used is either cod or halibut. Both options are great for this dish as they have a mild flavor, but that’s also a drawback as it means you need to use a lot of flavor-typically in the form of beer, or sugar, or salt-to enhance the batter and make it taste better. This is where the calories can come in for this part of the dish. A lot of restaurants will use a batter loaded with beer and salt to make the dish more appealing. But there are better options than this for your own home!
One option for the fish is something that I have done, although it isn’t true “Fish ‘n Chips” but it is a close contender that my family enjoys. We like catfish, which has a more fishy taste but is still a white fish like cod or halibut. So, when I think about making this dish, I sometimes will look for catfish instead of cod or halibut. But I would only recommend buying catfish if it’s on sale as it can be more pricey.
Anyway, instead of a batter I use more of a crust for my fish. I use a cornmeal based crust of either lemon pepper, Mediterranean, southwest, or cajun seasonings. For four filets, I only need 1/2 cup of cornmeal and a teaspoon of my seasoning. This is where my post on seasonings can really help out as you can season your fish for very cheap and with far less MSG or other unknown chemicals than your average mixes of seasoning.
Mix up the two ingredients and dredge your fish in them. You just need the fish to be crusted, or hold onto some of the crust. It helps if your fish isn’t soggy or too wet. After coating them, you can cook them one of two ways. First there’s the oven. With this method, turn your oven on to 425 degrees F. Then, coat a baking sheet with oil (you can use almost any oil here, but I recommend either EVOO or Vegetable oil, but coconut oil would work as well). Next, place the fish on the sheet and place in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the fish is opaque and flaky.
The other option is to pan fry your fish. For this, use a large frying pan over medium high heat. Next, add one tablespoon of oil to your preheated pan. Then, carefully place your filets of fish in the pan and let it cook for about seven minutes per side until it is opaque and flaky. Either one of these options is going to produce a filet that has far less calories than your usual battered fish filet. For us, we like to pan fry our fish as the cornmeal likes to blacken and it creates a wonderful crunchy crust that we enjoy.
Now that we have the fish sorted out, it’s time to look at our chips. Earlier this month, I did a post on healthy alternatives to fries, and I want to stick to that. I still don’t recommend doing sweet potato fries unless you use real sweet potatoes as opposed to yams or the premade fries. You will basically be adding all of the original calories and fat back into your dish. Instead, try doing different veggies for this dish. We have done baked zucchini sticks for this, and I actually prefer this over fries. I sometimes feel with Fish ‘n Chips that the dish contains nothing grown or no greens to provide real sustenance. It’s a heavy dish. So, doing the baked zucchini sticks helps lighten it up without cutting back on the flavor.
Finally, let’s turn to the extras. I know we all want to reach for that malt vinegar to have with our Fish ‘n Chips. But with this version, why not try some lemon wedges? They will provide that vinegar-like contrast we all love with our fish, and it won’t affect the waistline. And as for the “fries”, I recommend using your own ranch dressing made from scratch like the ones I shared with you on Tuesday of this week.
And that, Readers, is a healthy version of Fish ‘n Chips. Okay, so it isn’t exactly “Fish ‘n Chips”, but it’s close enough to make it a great and healthy contender to this pub favorite. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do in our home!
Until next time,