Type 'Sweet William' into Google and you get thousands of hits on flower websites. Type in 'Sweet William recipe' into Google and you get lots of edible flower recipes. This is the predicament I was in yesterday when I left my fishmongers with a couple of portions of Sweet William - the fish.
I bought the Sweet William as I thought I knew what it was. And you know what happened to 'thought'. For some reason, despite the fact that I had never eaten it or cooked with it, I assumed that I knew what to do with it. As it was bought already skinned and beheaded, all I could see were a couple of long thin fish carcass with meaty flesh waiting to be snaffled. Filleting it, things got weird. Instead of bones and a 'normal' spine, it had a thick membrane, much like a monkfish has. That was when I knew I had to Google as it wasn't what I had assumed.
Nothing was revealed except for some talk on the Australian Gummy Shark. As none of these have been floating up the Tyne in recent history, I had to delve a bit further with a call to my fishmonger. And that was when the Dog Fish was revealed. Sweet William is the affectionate name given to our not so lovely Dog Fish. Whether it has been so named in an attempt to get people to eat it I don't know. But my decision in the end was to make a simple batter and a 'cheat's' tartare sauce and eat them as goujons with some sautéed potatoes.
If you have never eaten Dog Fish before, you will be in for a nice surprise if you decide to try some. If you can get past the hideous features, a delectable meaty flesh is revealed. Sweet by name and by nature, the dog fish makes for a sensational quick fried supper, one that won't hit you too hard in the purse. It is so cheap and of course, like a lot of our sustainable local fish, completely neglected and under-used. So please give our humble Dog Fish a chance; a Dog Fish is for life, not just for Christmas....
Sweet William Goujons with 'Cheat's' Tartare Sauce
2 Sweet William fish (or Dog Fish), filleted and sliced into strips
Vegetable or sunflower oil, enough to fill a medium deep pan
For the batter
100g plain flour
Salt and pepper
A pinch of English mustard powder
1 bottle of cold beer
For the Tartare Sauce
Good shop bought mayonnaise
Fresh dill or parsley, chopped
A handful of capers, chopped
A squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1 - Heat up the oil in a pan until hot enough for batter to instantly float to the surface when dropped in.
2 - To make the batter, pour the flour, seasoning and English mustard powder into a bowl and make a well. Begin to pour in the cold beer and with a whisk, beat thoroughly until you have a batter the consistency of double cream.
3 - For the 'cheat's' tartare sauce, mix all of the ingredients together, taste for seasoning and keep aside.
4 - In batches, dip the fish into the batter and carefully lower into the hot oil. They should curl up and float to the surface. Cook for 2-3 minutes until golden brown.
5 - Place onto kitchen towel to soak up any excess oil, then serve with the tartare sauce.