Another trip down memory lane. This time the focus is on the great Australian potato scallop. More popularly referred to as the potato cake in our southern states. For me it’s the quintessential taste of the long summer school holidays. Hot and salty with the sharp tang of brown malt vinegar. Indelibly associated with lazy days spent swimming, surfing and tanning at the beach. Periodically punctuated by a mad dash on tip toes across the burning sand to the fish and chip shop.
Sadly, today, a truly great potato scallop is hard to find. Once upon a time scallops were made to order. Thick slices of cooked potato dipped in batter and fried in hot oil right before your eyes. Liberally doused in salt and vinegar before being tightly wrapped in newspaper for a beach side feast. One serving of three scallops would go a long, long way. There would be two decent sized slices cut from the centre of the potato and an assortment of irregular crispy bits cut from the ends. A bonus of being on first name terms with the fish and chip shop owner.
I was reminded of the pleasures of a well made potato scallop a few weeks ago when we chanced upon a fish shop that made them from scratch. Gloriously crunchy on the outside with a soft potato centre they were incredibly delicious and moreish. And dare I say it, undoubtedly bad for you. Not unsurprisingly they were an instant hit with my teenagers and they have been pestering me for more ever since.
The school holidays are drawing to a close this week, and in a moment of weakness I relented and made up a huge batch for them. Impossibly crispy coated in a light beer batter, they were the stuff of childhood memories and proved very difficult to resist.
Beer Battered Potato Scallops
4 (about 500g) old potatoes, peeled, cooked and thickly sliced
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup chilled beer
vegetable oil for deep frying
sea salt and vinegar, to serve
SIFT flour and salt into a medium sized bowl.
WHISK in beer in a slow but steady stream to form a smooth, thick, lump-free batter.
COVER and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to rest.
ADD enough oil in a deep saucepan or wok to reach a depth of about 5 cm. Heat until a cube of bread browns in 15 seconds when added to the oil.
DIP potato slices into batter, drain off excess and cook in hot oil for 2-3 minutes or until batter is golden. Remove and drain on absorbent paper.
SPRINKLE liberally with salt. Serve immediately with vinegar on the side.