Find a healthy alternative to fish and chips
Fish and chips is a well-loved takeout dish with a quite bit of a history and a bad nutritional reputation. The fried-battered-fish-and-French-fry combo is one of the earliest examples of culinary fusion. It first appeared in 1860, when trawl fishing in the North Sea was hugely popular and the railroads were installed to transport the scaled treasures inland.
Since 1860, this oily dish has fed the masses. Nowadays, with our concern over nutritional benefits and the dreaded calories, it may be that the ol’ fish ‘n’ chip isn’t quite so appealing. In a wrapped portion of “chips” there are 951 calories. In a single serving of a medium-sized cod fillet, fried in batter, there are 444 calories. If you’re a calorie counter, you’ll know that’s a lot for one meal.
Of course, there are benefits to fish and chips — it’s got protein and fibre, and is relatively low in cholesterol (if you avoid the chips part of the equation, it’s even better for you). But for those of us who may want to beef up the nutritional part of our diet without sacrificing great taste, try clams and seaweed.
Clams are one of the best sources of vitamin B12, which is important for energy, brain and nerve health, and the immune system. They’re low in fat, high in protein and have an above-average amount of healthy minerals like selenium, zinc, iron and magnesium.
Seaweed is a superfood — rich in iodine, a mineral many lack in their daily diet, and a good source of vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as unique anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds.
This fried-clams-and-seaweed-chips combo will transform your usual fish and chips into something, well, maybe not better, per se, but healthier and different.
10 cups canola oil
2 lb clam strips (about 4 cups)
1 cup buttermilk, well-shaken
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup cornmeal (preferably yellow, for colour)
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, well-dried and loosely packed
Salt, to taste
Heat canola oil in pot over moderate heat until a deep-fat thermometer registers 380°F. While oil is heating, rinse and drain clam strips. Stir together with buttermilk in a large bowl. Drain clams well (reserve drained buttermilk).
Stir together cornstarch, cornmeal, flour, curry powder, celery salt, cayenne and salt. Dredge clams in flour mixture, then shake in a large sieve over flour bowl to remove excess flour. Transfer clams, one by one, shaking them again to remove any excess flour mixture, to a baking sheet.
Wash and dry lemons; cut crosswise into 1/16-inch slices. Dip 3 or 4 slices in reserved buttermilk, let excess drip off, then dredge in flour mixture, shaking off excess.
Fry coated clams with coated lemon slices and 1/4 cup parsley sprigs per batch until clams are crisp and golden, about 1 1/2 minutes, then transfer to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with salt.
Return oil to 380°F between batches, removing any bits of fried batter with a fine sieve and coating next batch of clams and lemon slices. The batches will get progressively darker, but that won’t affect the flavour.
10 roasted seaweed sheets (nori)
Heat the oven (with the oven rack in the middle) to 275°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Lay a seaweed sheet flat on a clean work surface, shiny side up. Using a pastry brush, brush with a thin layer of water, making sure it’s done so thoroughly and evenly. Sprinkle with a little salt.
Use scissors to cut into 4 squares. They will curl up a little. Place on a sheet pan. Repeat until you have enough squares to fill the pan.
Bake until crisp, 7 to 10 minutes. Let cool and serve.