Carina writes a monthly column each month for Scots Magazine, a monthly publication packed with entertaining and informative features on Scotland’s people, places, culture and leisure. Every issue is a celebration of Scotland’s rich urban and rural life – from the great outdoors to the vibrant city scene; all complimented by stunning photography. Read more at www.scotsmagazine.com
Meanwhile, here’s the latest column, with a great recipe for calamari- enjoy!
Deep Fried Delight
I have a crystal clear memory of standing on a chair, frying chips in the Wemyss Cafe in Port Seton just before I started primary school. I must have just turned 5 years old. It’s as clear as my first pink plastic pram and the day I lost my favourite teddy. Happy and sad memories are just as vivid if you’re 5 or 50. My mother says I’m talking absolute rubbish – she’s promised me she would never have let me stand on a chair (there was no question I’d have been allowed the fry the chips!)
I’ve always been tall so the chances are that I did the frying, but on foot. I was an enthusiastic helper that loved being in the kitchen, as close to the direct source of food as possible.
Regardless of the health and safety breaches of my mother, I’ve always loved fried food. “Who doesn’t?”, I hear you say. However, there are some things I’ll draw a line at. Battered Mars bars and pizza will never pass my lips. The person who invented either of these two culinary monsters should be dipped in batter, fried, wrapped in newspaper and binned – quickly.
That said, the demand for fried food is as strong as ever. It’s a Friday night staple for some, and make an appearance on even the most fashionable menus. Everything in moderation serves us all well, and a good fish supper is good for the soul, if not our always for our waistlines.
The Italians held the territory for decades as the place to go to enjoy this original fast food takeaway, but in recent years the Scots have taken over the mantle, with several of our chippies holding national hero status. The Bay Fish in Stonehaven, the Anstruther Fish Bar and Cameron’s Chip Shop in Stornaway have all at one time been crowned Fish & Chip shop of the Year, which is just fantastic.
Selling fish fresh off the harbour quayside, these fish and chip shops are selling the simplest but best fresh food around. Sustainable awards abound: you’ll know the boat, the catch zone, and the skipper’s weight if you’re lucky. Haddock may be catch of the day, or a little bit of hake or coley. These less popular but equally tasty quality fish taste great and stocks are at such high levels that they’re some of the best choices for the environment.
Meat has never really worked deep fried. In Italy you’ll often find things like tripe and sweetbreads deep fried, but I’ve always managed to resist these. However, vegetables, fish and bread doughs always work really well. A constant favourite is deep fried squid -calamari. Charm your fishmonger and he’ll do all the dirty work for you, as squid can be messy to prepare. There are loads of videos on the internet if you’ve drawn the short straw and have to clean these many-armed sea creatures yourself.
Lightly fried squid with homemade mayonnaise
This recipe packs a little punch with some cayenne to flavour the flour.
- 200g of cleaned squid, thinly sliced, washed and dried well
- 100g strong white flour
- 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon of Maldon salt
- 300 ml of olive oil
- Choose a deep casserole pot to fry the squid. This helps hold the consistency of the oil if you don’t have an electric deep fat fryer.
- Heat the oil to 190 degrees Celsius, or until the oil is hot enough that if you add a piece of squid it will start to sizzle but not spit.
- Season the flour in a bag with the salt and cayenne pepper
- Dip the dried squid in the flour and shake off any excess
- Slowly add the squid to the oil and fry gently until golden
- Remove and drain on some kitchen towel
- Enjoy with some delicious homemade mayonnaise.
- 2 organic free-range egg yolks from the fridge
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp Dijon or English mustard powder
- 1/4 tsp fine salt
- 300ml/10fl oz light olive oil or sunflower oil
In a food processor or blender add the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice and salt. Set the machine to slow. Very very slowly drizzle the oil in, a tiny amount at a time. When the mixture starts to thicken you can add a little more oil until the texture is like that of thick yoghurt. If the mixture is too thick don’t worry as it can be thinned down with some fresh cream.