How To Make A Super Comforting Vegan 'Fish & Chips'
The Debrief: A weeknight dinner when you want to make a fuss, but don’t want to break the bank.
I once made the mistake of literally translating ‘toad in the hole’ for my homesick French exchange student, only to have a bedroom door slammed in my face. Her seat stayed empty for the duration of my Dad’s lovingly-prepared Sunday lunch, and it was only hours later that I realised un crapeau dans un trou may have been the wrong strategy.
But there’s no need to shy away from re-creating British classics for any pals that are yet to try some of the weirdest (read: best) things British people like to put on their plates. Even if your adaptation strays from tradition by being meat free, gluten free or vegan, give yourself enough time and you’ll have a lovingly updated meal on your hands.
For a vegan take on fish and chips, you're going to need to make 'to-fish'. It might seem a bit tricky to make at first, but as you’re battering it, it doesn’t need to look perfect. If you live near an Asian supermarket or large whole foods shop, you may be able to pick up some ready-packaged tofu-fish, in which case just follow the instructions for battering it. For everyone else, the tofu needs a little love, but you end up with hot, crunchy, salty, light batter, a little nori and rich tofu.
You can make these beer-battered fish bites, sweet potato fries, tartar sauce and mushy peas in about 90 minutes, and it’ll cost you around £10 for a huge dinner for two.
Beer-battered to-fish bites
Serves 2 generously
For the tofu
400g or one pack of tofu
750 ml water
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp salt
2-3 sheets of toasted nori (look for them in the sushi or World Foods section of the supermarket)
For the batter
150g plain flour
2 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp egg replacer
1 tsp ground black pepper
300ml of very cold beer or fizzy water
What to do
1. Slice the tofu in half, and then cut each of those pieces into half or thirds, depending on how big you’d like your fish pieces.
2. In a large pan, pour in the water, lemon juice and salt, and bring it to the boil. Gently drop the tofu pieces in, and simmer for fifteen minutes. Take the pan off the heat and leave for another fifteen minutes.
3. When that time’s up, carefully drain the water away from the pan, and place the tofu on some kitchen roll to absorb any excess liquid. Let it cool for another 15 minutes.
4. Grab your nori sheets, and cut a square for each piece of tofu. The nori will stick to the moisture on the tofu, and it only needs to cover two sides, but it does help with frying if you can trim any excess seaweed off.
5. Set the tofu aside for a few minutes while you get your batter ready. Simply combine the flour, cornflour, baking powder, egg replacer and black pepper in a mixing bowl. Whisk in the beer or fizzy water- you only need to stir until it’s just combined, no need to over-mix.
6. Heat about 2cm of sunflower oil in a pan on medium heat. Test if the mixture is hot enough by dropping a little bit of the batter into the pan- if it fizzes to the surface, you’re ready to go.
7. Fry each tofu piece for about 2 or 3 minutes on each side, until it goes a golden colour. Drain off any oil onto kitchen roll, and serve piping hot.
Sweet potato fries
To get the crinkle-cut effect, you can pick up a crinkle-cut knife from Lakeland or online- or you can just make straight-edge fries, no judgement here.
1 large sweet potato
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp of any combination of dried rosemary thyme or oregano
What to do
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C
2. Peel the sweet potato and then slice into strips using a crinkle cut knife or a regular knife. Cover the base of an oven-proof dish with sunflower oil, then plenty of salt and pepper and the dried herbs.
3. Pour in the sweet potato fries and mix so each chip has oil and some herbs on it. Roast for around 30 minutes, until the fries are totally cooked through and a little burnt right at the edges- they taste better that way.
250g frozen peas
80ml soy cream
Salt and pepper
1. Boil the peas in boiling water until they’re soft.
2. Transfer two thirds of the peas to a food processor and blend until they’re a thick paste- don’t go to soup level! If you don’t have a blender, use a potato masher or even the bottom of a mug to crush the peas.
3. Add in the soy cream, salt and pepper, and pour the whole lot pack into the pan with the rest of the peas.
4. Heat through so the cream blends into the pea mixture, and you’re ready to serve.
50ml vegan mayonnaise
50ml soy cream
About 3 tbsp of chopped cucumber pieces
A small handful of dill
1 tbsp capers
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, and add a little more seasoning, lemon juice or mayo until it’s the perfect consistency.
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