Got a (gluten-free) chip on your shoulder?

June 14, 2013 2:11 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

There are times when only a chip will do. After swimming with children on a cold day, for example, or at the end of a long Cub Scout hike. There’s something about the greasy wrapping, the soft squidgness and the hot, oily smell, that takes you straight back to being seven years old again and wrapped in a blanket on the seafront. My husband is horrified that where I come from, people eat one chip and throw the next to the seagulls. (Though even he is impressed by the gulls’ aerobatic tricks to catch them.)

But what if you’re on a gluten-free diet? Can you still eat fish and chips?

The answer is generally ‘no’. A potato is, of course, just a potato – and therefore gluten-free – but fried in the same oil as breaded chicken nuggets or onion rings, the chips will not be suitable for coeliacs. The fish, fried in a floury batter, is also out of the question.

But do not despair. It is still possible for those on a gluten-free diet to indulge in the same Friday-night-fairground-seaside treat as the rest of us. Here’s how to do it.

First: make your chips yourself (frying them in an oil designed for high-heat frying, such as one of our nut oils). Or, if you need the whole greasy-wrapping experience, look online for a local chip shop selling gluten-free fish and chips. Many of them have cottoned on to this growing market and they are really doing it properly. To avoid cross-contamination of equipment and oil, they tend to serve gluten-free fish and chips on one day of the week only. Gluten-free batter doesn’t keep endlessly, meaning that you can be sure that any fish and chips cooked in this way are extremely fresh.

If you’re cooking at home, and want to make battered fish, it’s really quite simple: you just need to replace the usual flour and the baking powder with our gluten-free baking powder and any of our gluten-free flours. If you’re new to gluten-free cooking of this kind, we’d suggest the Orgran all-purpose plain flour to start off with. After that, you could experiment to your heart’s content.

Try this recipe:

Mix 100g plain gluten-free flour with 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder and some salt and pepper. Pour in 75ml milk and 120ml of warm water, beer, soda water or fizzy water, and beat well. (The beer will give an airy texture and an enhanced taste, while soda water or fizzy water create a lighter, more bubbly batter.) Coat your fish fillets in the batter and fry in hot oil.

There are actually some real advantages to making gluten-free batter. For example, unlike traditional batters, there’s no need to add your liquid and flour alternately. Simply combine all the dry ingredients and then add the wet. However, make sure you beat the batter very well – it takes slightly longer for gluten-free flour to absorb moisture and attain that ‘airy’ texture.

‘Fish and chips is one of the most healthiest [sic] takeways you can buy’ – states an award-winning fish and chip shop. I may not be alone in having some doubts about this, but it’s surely true that they are one of the most satisfying takeaways you can buy – and doubly satisfying to make or buy if you thought you never could again!

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This post was written by Sue

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