Welcome to The Hot Dish, a behind the scenes look at the making of the dishes of the moment. Up this week, Kris Morningstar shows Eater the methods behind making the ultra-popular fish & chips at Terrine.
Kris Morningstar first discovered the infinite variations of fish & chips, that classic British pub dish, at Casey's Irish Pub in Downtown. This was before his innovative time at Blue Velvet, though his version of fish & chips has always been one of the catnips that brought industry friends and chefs to his restaurants. It was an easy way to use any extra fish and put it to good use for hungry diners that were lucky enough to nab the special whenever it was on the menu.
At Terrine, Morningstar's new effort on Beverly Blvd, Morningstar has made fish & chips the star of the menu, where along with the giant charcuterie plate, it helms a seasonally inspired California brasserie bill of fare.
He starts with house made tartare sauce, which has a mayonnaise base, plus champagne vinegar, dijon mustard, shallots, cornichon, chunky capers, creme fraiche (which smooths out the mayo), dill, and fine herbs. And of course, Old Bay, because it makes everything better.
To make the crispy crust for the fish, Morningstar starts with wondra flour, plus some vodka, which keeps gluten from forming in the batter. Plus a pilsner (you can't use a wrong beer because it gives an off flavor), sparkling water, baking powder, Dijon, Old Bay, and herbs. The chef doesn't like when batter is bready —he wants it more crispy. He puts his finger into the batter and knows it's ready when it barely coats his finger.
When they're seasoned right, they get an almost "McDonald's" effect of addictiveness.
As for the fish, he uses 5.5 ounces of fresh rock fish per order, dredged in wondra so that the batter can adhere to the fish. Wondra has non-clumpy flour which is why people use it for gravies in the South. It's fried at 330 degrees in basic frying oil.
Finally the fries, which are thick-cut, salt-water blanched first, then slow-fried at low temperatures before getting fried for a long time at a higher temp. Instead of kennebec potatoes, these puppies are good ol' russet potatoes because they were better side by side. This keeps the potato flavor more pure instead of nutty. When they're seasoned right, they get an almost "McDonald's" effect of addictiveness. Here now, go through Morningstar's process and order up the next time you're at Terrine.