Catalina Cooking: Fish (stories) and chips

You can make your own fish, chips and tartar sauce. Courtesy photo

So last week I stated that the Betty-O in Marina Del Rey brought in something crazy like 18 Halibut. OK, so I’ve since learned it wasn’t quite 18. This is how “stories” start … I went down to my Tiki Mermaid gig by the Betty-O and saw Mike, the owner. Mike reads this column as well as Captain John King’s column from The Afishinados along with the rest of the Islander. Anyway, it was the weekend of the Halibut Derby and I came down the gangway and saw the deckhands with all kinds of action. I asked as usual how they did and what I heard was they got 18 Halibut. Well, after reading the column, Mike educated me that the weekend of the Derby the boat actually got (uh-o here we go again) I believe 3 and one was 14 pounds? (another correction coming?) I’m not sure how I could believe they got 18 in the first place. I was at the CCA meeting the week before talking about the WSB program and they were trying to implement a program for Halibut as well for the bay due to their declining numbers. I have fished my whole life and could not believe what I thought I heard as well. Anyway, just wanted to correct that. Here is a great Fish and Chips thing. I like to cut the fish in say a 4 inch x 2 inch filet thickness. Cut potato the same way. This keeps it crunchy, sweet and perfectly cooked. Use your best Japanese tempura batter and make sure everything is cold, cold, cold. Since the oil is already hot, I do onion and asparagus as well. Use peanut oil and fry in a deep pot.

Remoulade (fancy for tartar sauce)

Mix all together and chill.

• 1/2 cup good mayo

• 4 sliced v dill pickle small diced

• 2 shallots minced

• 1 T rice vinegar

• 1 lemon juice with pulp

• 2 T fresh dill

• 1 T whole grain mustard

• Cracked pepper

• Tempura Batter & open another box and pour about 1/3 into a bowl not mixed.

Peanut oil

• Halibut Filet 4”x2” x filet size

• Potato cut 4 inches x 2 inches x 2 inches.

• Asparagus spears

• Onion cut in rings

• Lemon wedges

Make your batter per the instructions on the box. You need bullet proof for that wonderful delicate Halibut. Chill. This is not your beer batter thing with sauce. This is about respecting the Halibut. Get your potatoes and cut them in 4”x2”x2”. Poach in water until you can just barely put a toothpick through them. About 10 minutes. Remove and dry and chill.

Turn your oven on to 200 and get everything ready including anybody that is joining you. Plates, napkins, cut lemon, wet paper towels for the hands EVERYTHING…

Now get a cookie sheet, sheet pan etc with some paper towels on it. Have your tempura flour for dredging on the side as well. Kind of like a buffet before it is cooked.

The Veggies and fish, the tempura flour, the tempura batter, plate to get excess batter off and the hot oil. Other side of the hot oil, a pan lined with paper towels.

Get the peanut oil hot. 350-375. Wing it if you know how. You will need to adjust the heat from time to time. First cook the asparagus and onion rings in a couple of batches, transferring to pan with paper towels and then to the oven. Next do the potatoes until golden and crispy. Keep the veggies and potatoes in the oven and ready for the fish. Make sure oil is up to speed again. With the fish, lightly dredge it in the plain tempura flour and then put in the batter. Drop in the oil and get ready. As you are doing the first batch, lay the vegetables and potatoes on a warm platter and begin to dry and add the fish. Do this until all the fish is done and serve right away. Don’t forget to bring out the remoulade and lemon wedges. If you feel like turning it up a bit take some baby lettuce and toss it in the oil and let it get crispy. Looks and tastes great.

BE CAREFUL of the oil splash. Get any little ones out of the kitchen…. I hope you enjoy this and don’t tell fish stories unless they are somewhat accurate. Which brings me to my new Accurate reels that I love. I had T at Fishermans Supplies set me up and Just Pete toss the mono on the braid for me. Never mind, Leave that talk for John King …

Capt. Vaughn Allen was a private chef and butler for the ultra rich and famous most of his life. Vaughn was recently called out of retirement to cook the intimate celebration dinner for Sir Ringo Starr and his close friends. Vaughn is a businessman, scuba instructor and most recently a yacht broker in Redondo Beach. You can contact him at


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