The best fish and chips I’ve ever had came from the King’s Head, a theme British style pub which was owned by a couple of Aussies in Santa Monica. The Aussies are gone, the King’s Head remains. The fish is wonderful. So are the chips.
As a result of their training, I prefer the coating on my fish to be very light and crisp, in the style of tempura, and some of the better chipper vans (can there be a “better” chipper van?) and pubs of the UK. I also like my potatoes fried properly — something that’s impossible in a van, difficult in a restaurant, and rather easy at home.
There’s a certain amount of complication in this recipe, but the extra technique is very worthwhile.
Fish and chips has been driven off it’s pedestal as the iconic British carry out by curry. Mmm, curry. While it’s not exactly fair to say that fish and chips is endangered, eat it while you can.
FISH AND CHIPS
Quantity: For four
Difficulty: Easy, but extra steps and some “plan ahead” timing
Fryer or “deep enough” pan set up as fryer
Brown paper bags
• 2 pounds russet potatoes
• Enough oil for deep frying – I.e., at least 2″ deep in a Dutch Oven.
• 2 cups flour
• 1 tbs double acting baking powder
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 ex-large egg
• 1-1/2 cups, ice-cold club-soda or seltzer, or bottle of lager beer, divided in halves
• 1 or 2 ice cubes
• 1-1/2 pound firm white fish fillets, the standards are cod, haddock, halibut and plaice; catfish is surprisingly good but not very British
• 1/2 cup rice flour, or corn starch
A proper chip is no small thing. Peel your potatoes, and cut them into chips about the size of your index or driver’s finger. Cover the potatoes with water, discard the water, and cover again with fresh water. Potatoes should soak at least 45 minutes, and up to 8 hours. The soak is important. You won’t get the right textures on the skin and the interior without it.
While (or, “whilst” if you’re from the Empire) the potatoes are soaking, begin the batter. Sift the flour baking powder and salt together. Beat the egg and add it and about 3/4 cup liquid and stir to combine a very smooth batter. Cover with cling wrap, and hold in the refrigerator. The partially completed batter should be held for at least 45 minutes and up to 2 hours.
When ready to cook, Wash and thoroughly dry your fillets (did I mention that they should be dry?). Portion into long triangular wedges, each about 4 oz. (English style is skin on; American is skin off.) Alternatively, if you’re feeling dainty, you may cut the fish into goujon aka fish fingers. Dust the fillets with enough rice powder or corn starch, so they are fully covered, and completely dry. Shake off any excess and reserve the fish on a rack.
Heat the oil to 325. Drain enough chips to fill the fryer without crowding, reserving three for later. (You may have to work in batches.) Dry them thoroughly with a towel. Cook the potatoes through, about 5-6 minutes. They will either not brown at all, or only brown slightly.
Set the potatoes aside to drain on paper. A brown paper bag works better than paper towels for draining oil.
Raise the oil temperature to 375.
Remove the batter from the refrigerator. Add the ice cube and the remaining liquid, and stir until just combined. Dip the fish in batter until coated.
If you only have one smallish fryer cook as follows: Fry the fish until done, about 5 minutes. While the fish is frying drain, dry and reserve the remaining three chips. As soon as the fish comes out of the oil, add those chips, and let them cook for 60 seconds only. Then remove and discard. (Their purpose is to clean any fish taste that got into the oil.) Immediately, return the partially cooked chips to the oil, and cook until they pick up some color, about 5 minutes. Remember, they are already cooked
One big fryer: If your fryer is big enough to handle the temperature shock, you may fry the fish and “par-fried” chips at the same time. If you do so, chips on the bottom, fish on top.
Two fryers: Fry the fish and the partially fried chips simultaneously.
Drain the fish and the chips on fresh brown paper. Salt lightly while still very fresh from the fryer and very hot.
Plate the fish and chips with lemon wedges. Serve with malt vinegar
on the side. Some people like tartar sauce as well.
The Fish and chips by Cook Food Good, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.