This started because I wanted to incorporate more non-salmon fish into my diet and I ran into Gordon Ramsay's Fish Fingers and Chip Butty. So, I tried to make some version of it. I say some version because I didn't use the same fish (I used Cod because that's the what they had) or fresh dill (because I didn't understand why and the wife wasn't into it), I didn't really want to make a potato sandwich and I messed up some of the cooking. Still, they turned out pretty decent. I'd be annoyed if I paid for them at a resturaunt, but, they were still the best fish fingers and fries I'd ever made from scratch (first time! ;)).
There were some problems I ran into. The first is that a 1 lb cod filet makes a lot of fish fingers and I found the process of battering them (and later cooking them) pretty annoying. The second is that I didn't let my pan get hot enough before I put them on. So, they basically absorbed all of the olive oil in the pan and cooked wierdly. In a panic, I added more oil to the pan...which cooled down the pan and got reabsorbed. Meanwhile, my wife's wondering why I didn't just throw them into the oven. Also, after tasting them, I realized the dill dealio.
So, for the second attempt, I wanted to change some things. I really didn't want fish fingers. What I wanted was to learn how to make fish and chips well. But I don't want to actually fry the fish in oil. After doing a fried turkey for Thanksgiving a few years back, I learned that I really hate the process. Sure, the food turns out amazing, but it's greasy, expensive, and feels very wasteful -- I don't end up reusing or storing the oil. So, I found some people online baking their fish and chips. So, I took Gordon's recipe and tweaked it a bit more. I added the fresh dill he called for, but I used bigger chunks of fish and put the fish in a buttered pan (with about 1 Tbsp of extra butter spread around the pan so it'd soak into the fish) in the oven at 425 F for about 20 minutes. I also decided to cut the potatoes thinner (they're still pretty thick, but not quite as thick as I had them).
So far, so good. But I'm still not that crazy about the seasoning and I can't quite figure it out. It probably needs more salt and I've dropped all pepper at the wife's request (she's just been sensitive to it lately). I've been thinking about trying other herbs, adding some lemon or vinegar, or maybe using something like Old Bay seasoning. I like the panko vs. a normal batter, but I may play around with a beer batter and see if I can get similar results from the oven. I may also try putting the fries into cold water for 30 minutes before blanching, be sure to coat the fries in oil, and season only at the end. It's definitely still a work in progress, but, so far, each iteration is working decently well.