Oh I do love to be beside the seaside…

I gave Toby a trip to Brighton for his birthday to buy a hat on the seafront (so he doesn’t have to tie a hanky on his head this summer).  But so far we’ve been too busy to go, which is just as well because the weather has been absolutely dismal.  So while we wait for things to brighten up, we’ll have to make do with this token, culinary trip to the beach- scampi and chips with tartare sauce and samphire.   
Why bother to make something you could just go down to your local and have for Sunday lunch?  Well for one, this will taste much better and it’s also very satisfying to make from scratch.  I felt quite pleased with myself, I must say.  As always with deep frying, do be very careful- hot oil and busy kitchens don’t mix.
A note or two on the ingredients-  I used shop-bought breadcrumbs for my scampi, but it would be even better with the homemade variety.  Just use a stale loaf if you have one to hand.  
Samphire is gradually becoming a bit more readily available- I found mine at the fish counter in Waitrose.   Samphire grows on coasts and has a slight seaweed feeling about it, I like to think of it as sea asparagus.  It tastes fantastic and goes really well with fish. 
If you don’t like gherkins or capers, you can omit them and replace them with some crushed garlic for something a bit more aioli- like. 

Scampi and Chips with Tartare Sauce and Samphire 

 Serves 4

You will need: 

For the scampi:
600g medium-sized potatoes (unpeeled), cut into chunky chips
3 tbsp olive oil
25-30 extra large, peeled prawn tails
30g plain flour
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 large free-range egg
75g breadcrumbs
Sunflower or vegetable oil for deep frying
250g Samphire
Lemon wedges to serve

     For the tartare sauce:
    1 large free-range egg yolk
    ½ tsp  mustard powder
    Juice of 1 lemon
    150ml olive oil
    1 tbsp capers, chopped
    1 tbsp gherkins, chopped
    1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
    1 large shallot, finely chopped


    1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.  Put the chips in a large pan of salted water and bring to boil. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

    2.  Meanwhile, pour the olive oil into a large tray and place in the oven to heat up. Drain the potatoes and return to the heat briefly, until completely dry (be careful not to let them stick to the pan).  Add the chips to the hot oil, turning to coat. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.  Leave in the oven for 30-40 minutes until golden, tossing occasionally to  make sure they don’t stick to the tray.

    3. While the chips are cooking, get cracking with the tartare sauce.   Place the egg yolk, mustard powder, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper into a bowl.  Use an electric mixer to combine all the ingredients.  Keep the mixer running while you slowly add the oil in a continuous, thin stream, as you would when making mayonnaise.  Taste to season and see if it needs another squeeze of lemon juice before adding the  capers, gherkins, parsley and shallot.  

    4. Wash and pat the prawns dry, particularly if using frozen ones that you have defrosted. Put the flour in a bowl or onto a large plate and season with salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.  Crack the egg into a second bowl and lightly whisk. Put the breadcrumbs in a third bowl.

    5.  Dip each prawn in the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs.  Make sure each prawn is totally coated at each stage. Place to one side on a large plate.  

    6. Heat the oil in a large pan (a wok would be ideal) until a chunk of bread sizzles and turns golden brown and crisp within a couple of minutes.   Carefully add the scampi (laying them in a motion away from you so as to not inadvertently splash yourself with hot oil), a few at a time and cook for about three minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.   You can keep them warm in a low temperature oven while you continue with the rest of the prawns. 

    7.  Finally, steam the samphire, which should only take a few minutes. Serve the scampi with the tartare sauce, chunky chips, samphire and lemon wedges.  Ideally wrapped in newspaper. 


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