Frozen Feast

Well, you are back chez nick, so I might as well invite you for dinner. It’s frozen food this evening

Sorry to disappoint, but not all French families sit down to huge, freshly cooked gourmet meals. After a day at the grind, the last thing you want to do is come home and start chopping up mounds of veg.

Tonight will be a frozen classic of fish fingers, chips (French Fries) and peas – perhaps a dash of tartare sauce, which I shall of course be spooning out of a jar as opposed to making the stuff myself.

So fish fingers in French are “Batonnets de poisson” or (batonnay der pwusson). Of coures nowadays, frozen factory fish comes in all forms, including fishcakes or even nuggets. French fries in French are “frites” or (freet) and peas are “petits pois” or (per tee pwah)

Our fish fingers are of the Findus variety. Despite the recent scandal over some Findus ready-to eat meals, I think that there is very little chance of finding any horsemeat in a Findus fish finger. Come to think of it, the chances of finding any fish are quite minimal too.

Of course as a Brit, I refer to these tast frozen fish slabs/sticks as fish fingers – I am not sure what American readers would call them.

Now, the cooking of fish fingers is actually quite a tricky operation. They  should always be cooked from frozen and always in an oiled and  preheated frying pan. Your fish fingers don’t need to be swimming in grease – as fish they have perhaps already swum through an oil slick or two. Just a slither of olive oil in the bottom of your pan will do nicely.

Once the fish fingers get sizzling, they do cook quite quickly, so watch them all the time, and keep turning them over, so the breadcrumbs are browned equally on both sides. There is nothing worse than fishfingers that are burned on one side and almost uncooked on the other. In terms of cooking times, you fish fingers are going to be cooked in about 5 to 6 minutes.

Whether cooking from fresh or frozen, the coordination of cooking times is very important.

On the packet of oven chips, the cooking times is given as 15 minutes, however I have never found the suggested cooking times for frozen chips to be entirely accurate.

So, tonight we are using thick cut Mac Cain oven chips, requiring 15 minutes at the 200 to 220 setting on the fan oven. Of course you have pre-heated your oven for about  5 minutes. Chips, like fish fingers must be cooked from frozen, and of course you can’t just whack them in the oven and leave them. Your chips must be turned regularly.

As for peas – well, they are frozen too. I’m not a great fan of tinned processed peas, they are far too sweet, though they do make fantastic mushy peas (that’s a pea purée). The only decent way to cook your frozen peas is boiling them – at least the Brits say boiling – the French just talk about cooking their vegatbles in water, the French don’t boil all their veg down into green sludge.

My advice for the peas – drop them into the pot just before your water actually gets to the boil, then turn the gas down and leave them to simmer. Just how long you cook your peas depends on how firm you want them.

Yes folks, cooking frozen food is not an exact science

As for serving – well a twist of lemon on the fisfingers, a knob of butter in the peas and perhaps a little salt and vinegar in the chips. And to drink with this – well a glass of white wine, but I prefer red, so perhaps something light like a Beaujolais or a St Nicloas de Bourgeuil.

Bon apetit.