Food by VICE

Quickies: This Fried Fish Sandwich Is The Fast Food Classic on Steroids

Even Michelin-starred French chefs can’t say no to a Filet-O-Fish.

by Léo Bourdin; translated by Meredith Balkus
Jul 25 2017, 1:01pm

This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES France.


In our cooking series Quickies, we invite chefs, bartenders, and other personalities in the world of food and drink who are serious hustlers to share their tips and tricks for preparing quick, creative after-work meals. Every dish featured in Quickies takes under 30 minutes to make, but without sacrificing any deliciousness—these are tried-and-tested recipes for the super-busy who also happen to have impeccable taste.

Bertrand Grébault is the head chef at Septime, a killer neo-bistro that one of the most exciting places to eat in Paris right now. He's not exactly the first person comes to mind when you think of fast food. But it turns out the man serves a killer Filet-o-Fish knockoff at his casual seafood spot Clamato.

Grébault (left) and executive chef Aaron Rosenthal. All photos by the author.

Clamato exclusively uses fish from sustainable fisheries, and also they're not unfamiliar with the deep fryer. The kitchen serves cod fritters and a whole fried whiting till late at night, and then there's the fish sandwich—which we're going to call Clamat-O-Fish from here on out. The fish sandwich is basically everything you like about fish sandwiches, done right.

"We didn't want to make it with luxury products. Using flounder or sea snail wouldn't have made the sandwich we wanted," Grébault says. "We wanted to retain all the joy of a 'dirty' sandwich intact, but use products that, from an ethical point of view, have nothing to hide."

So the sandwich starts simply. The fillets get a classic three-step bath of flour/egg/breadcrumbs. While that happens, a deep pot of oil gets heated to 360° F.

Meanwhile, Grébault turns his attention to the tartar sauce. It starts with a base of homemade mayonnaise, to which he adds herbs, cornichons, capers, and pickled jalapeños. He explains that the key here is to "use the same amount of mayonnaise as add-ins. That makes the sauce less heavy and adds acidity, salt, and a little bit of heat."

Grébault likes potato rolls (or pains au lait) for the Clamat-O-Fish: He says that if the bread's too dense and brioche-like, it's doesn't absorb the sauce or juice as well. So potato rolls it is. They get split and gently warmed in the oven so they're hot and ready for the eventual fish fillet. Once the oil's at temperature, the fish gets a quick fry and is then removed to a paper towel-lined plate. He seasons it immediately with fleur de sel.

Assembly is straightforward, but Grébault says it's super important not to skimp on the sauce. A big swoop of tartar sauce goes on the bottom bun, then the fish on top. The fish gets a tiny bit more sauce to help the lettuce adhere, then some shredded soft lettuce goes down on top. The top bun gets even more tartar—Grébault insists you not skimp on the sauce—and it's done.

MAKE THIS: Homemade Fried Fish Fillet Sandwich

And now there's nothing left but to enjoy a the Clamat-O-Fish with a nice glass of cider from the Vulcain cidery, served well-chilled.