Eric over at Starfish asked me to sample his new breaded fish products and let him know what I think. That's right - he gave me free samples, meaning that I've been bribed. In spite of this I will try to give you the most objective review I can possibly muster. After all, if someone tried to "bribe" me with inedible food I'd have something to say about that. As my fair readers may know by now, I take food very seriously.
There are two sets of instructions on the box: one for cooking in the oven, one for deep-frying. I appreciated the fact that there are no microwave instructions. Who wants to eat microwaved fish? In the name of science, I should have tried it anyway, but I couldn't bring myself to it. I'm more of an eater than a scientist.
First I tried the baking option. The instructions say to bake at 450 for 13-14 minutes or "until golden brown." The fish remained more golden than brown. I was surprised that the batter didn't brown more readily, considering that corn flour is a key component of the recipe. However, it doesn't contain any tapioca starch which would help in the browning department. I don't have any pictures of the baked ones. You'll just have to trust me on this one. They were kind of pale yellow, even when cooked through.
I liked the halibut best. They were made of whole pieces of fish, not shredded product, so they got points for that. The breading was crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, just how I'd want it. The fish itself was moist and tender. The flavoring was just right - very classic deep-fried fish seasoning, without being too heavy.
The haddock was a little on the dry side. Haddock is a fish normally used as a filler or a generic white fish, so it makes sense that it was not quite as tasty as the halibut.
I also tried the deep-fry method of cooking. I don't have a deep fryer, so I wasn't sure about the temperature in my makeshift deep fry pan. I suspect that I didn't have it hot enough because the fish didn't float. However, it came out great. The batter turned a nice deep golden brown. Again the halibut was by far the better texture, but deep frying improved the haddock's texture quite a bit. I noticed that with both cooking methods the haddock became too firm and dry with even the slightest over-cooking. With the halibut I could over-cook it by quite a bit and it was still very good - especially with the frying method.
If I had one quibble I would say that it would be that the batter was not very thick. It wasn't too thin, though, so I can't officially complain. All in all, I'm not sure I would know that these were gluten-free if no one told me. I probably wouldn't buy the haddock for texture reasons, but the halibut was an excellent battered fish. This line of GF battered fish products, including codfish, will be available in Whole Foods across the country. You can read a review of the codfish version on the Gluten-free Portland site. They also have a response from Eric about how they prevent cross-contamination in their facility.
It was so warm I ate outside today.
I ran out of viable food options, so I had to resort to serving rice with the fish. While plain rice is fresher, lighter, and probably healthier to serve with deep-fried fare, I'm not really into those qualities in rice. Instead, I made it like my Costa Rican friend taught me while I was living there when I was in college. It makes a simple but very savory and hearty rice dish that you can serve with most meals or use to make other rice dishes.
If you are me, you will start this recipe by burning some onions until blackened, throw the whole concoction out, and start over from scratch. I recommend skipping this step - it's faster and easier, and better for your pans.
Heat in saucepan or in your ricemaker:
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
Chop into small pieces, then add to the hot oil:
1/4 small onion
1/2 carrot, julienned (optional. I didn't have carrot, so I ommitted this)
Sautee until brown. Add:
Several sprigs' worth of cilantro leaves
Sautee for 30 seconds then add:
1 cup rice
1 3/4 cup water salt to taste
Bring to a boil, then cook on low for 20 minutes. Serve!