Anyone who’s ever visited Great Britain will have either tried Fish and Chips or at least walked past a Fish and Chip Shop. Ask any British person if they’ve ever been to a ‘chippy’ as it is affectionately known, and their answer will sure enough be a resounding ‘YES’!
Fish and Chip shops came about as a result of the popularity of fishing trawls, and new railways which allowed for fresh fish to be transported further inland. The first Fish and Chip shop opened up in London in 1860, and it was a means to feed the working class with cheap, readily available fish. The fish and chips would be cooked in a big cauldron full of beef dripping, fired by hot coals.
It proved to be a main staple through out the country, so much so, that during the Second World War, Fish and Chips was exempt from food rationing!
These days, you will find fish and chip shops all over Great Britain, although many have now diversified and also sell pies, kebabs, burgers etc. The price of fish has soared, resulting in a decline of people buying this popular dish, and there have also been reports of some chippy’s selling a cheaper type of fish, when they are saying it is cod.
The success of this dish all rests on the batter. Every chippy has it’s own ‘secret’ recipe, so what I have done is tried to work out what makes a good, tasty, light and crispy batter, and this is what I’ve come up with.
Here I will show you how to reproduce a little bit of Britain.
Fish and Chips would normally be served with salt and vinegar which you would put on yourself in the chippy before they wrapped it up into a parcel using newspaper. The smell of the vinegar on the newspaper will evoke many memories to an expatriate if ever you were to mention it to them!
Cod, haddock, pollock, whiting,catfish. Any ‘meaty’ thick filleted white fish is good. For this recipe I have used frozen cod as fresh fish is extremely expensive!
1 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
Vegetable Oil for deep frying. (calculate amount according to the size of your pan)
Allow approximately 150 g (5 oz) fish per person.Try and get fish fillets about 2 cm or more in thickness
100g or 1 cup All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoons baking powder
7 Tablespoons Milk
1/2 Tablespoon Olive oil
1 Tablespoon water
Pinch of salt
6 Tablespoons of fizzy lager or beer. (A light beer works best). You can use fizzy water instead of beer.
Calculate roughly 2 medium sized potatoes per person, peeled and cut into finger thickness (about 2 cm thick) chips
King Edwards, Desiree,Maris Piper all good potatoes for chips
Salt and Malt Brown Vinegar for serving.
Stuff You will need
A saucepan large enough to fill 1/3 deep with oil, or a deep fryer.
Newspaper and grease proof paper cut into halves. Allow double layer of newspaper per portion.
1. If you are using frozen fish, defrost it. Turn oven on to 150C, 300F, Gas 2
2. Heat up the oil in your fryer / pan until it reaches 180C / 350F.
3. Check over your fish for any bones. If you have a thick part and thin part of the fish, cut the thin part off as we will cook this separately to avoid over cooking. (see shapes of fish in photo). Pat dry with kitchen paper.
4. Mix your flour and salt and pepper well in a shallow dish and cover the fish with the flour and shaking off any loose flour.
5. Make up the batter. Add all the ingredients EXCEPT the beer / fizzy water, and give it a light whisk. Don’t worry if there are lumps in the batter. This is good!
6. Peel and cut the potatoes into chip shapes, then rinse and pat dry with a clean tea towel.
The potatoes need to be as dry as possible before frying to get them crispy.
If you would like to make home made oven fries instead, here is a great Lovefoodies recipe…..Just click here
7. Carefully place the chips into the fryer / pan, and allow to cook gently for approximately 8 minutes. They should turn soft and still have a pale colour. You can check if the chips are cooked by using a sharp knife and feeling if it’s soft inside.
Take them out of the pan and place on your baking tray for now. We will refry them after the fish to give them a super crisp.
TIP: If you don’t have a thermometer, drop a bit of batter or end of a chip in and
and see if it sizzles to the surface.
8. Add the fizzy beer or fizzy water to your batter and gently mix it. It should have the consistency of a pouring cream or yoghurt. If it is too thick, add a little of your fizzy liquid.
9. Increase your oil heat to 180C / 350F ready for the fish. Place a few sheets of kitchen paper in your baking tray. We will use this to place the fish once it’s cooked.
10. We will cook 1 or 2 pieces of fish at a time, depends on the size of your pan / fryer. Taking the end of a piece of fish, place it in the batter and coat it well. Take it out of the batter and leave the excess to drip off, say for about 5 seconds. Then gently place it in the hot oil, and cook for 7 – 8 minutes until it becomes crispy and golden brown just like in the photos below. If the batter starts going brown too quickly, turn the temperature down a little.
11. Place on the kitchen paper then keep warm in the oven, whilst you cook the other pieces of fish the same way and add to the oven.
12. When you’ve finished cooking the fish, scoop out any bits of batter floating in the pan / fryer. In Britain, these bits are known as ‘scraps’ and you can often get them for free from the chippy to eat with chips. Not very healthy though!
13. Return the chips back to the fryer and cook for 3 minutes until they are brown and crispy. When done, drain off the excess oil (I use kitchen paper), and arrange, together with the fish on your newspaper & grease proof paper like in the photos below.
Serve whilst still hot and crispy. Sprinkle some salt and shake some vinegar on your fish and chips and eat out of the paper with your fingers and ENJOY!
If you would like to make some of my Best Ever Tartar Sauce to go with this, click on the photo opposite