25 March 2010

Fish and Chips

I try to eat something healthy once in a while, and this is not it. Fish and chips is definitely one of my all-time favorite meals, and having a deep fryer (albeit a toaster-sized one) in the kitchen is great. Messing with a heavy-bottomed pot and thermometers and trying to keep the temperature constant on an electric range is not my idea of a good time. If you have a gas range, you may have more luck doing so, but this meal really calls for a proper deep fryer. I recommend using peanut oil to fry the food, but safflower will work fine as well. If you want to serve this the way it's done in fish and chips shops in Britain, you'll want to use a folded up newspaper. I prefer the plate because ink and food do not go too well together.

(I apologize for not posting this yesterday - I had it all written out and forgot to actually publish it!)

Fish and Chips

1 lb firm-fleshed white fish - cod is recommended
2 large baking potatoes
1.5 cups unbleached all purpose flour, divided
1 bottle (12 fluid ounces/355 ml) dark or amber beer, cold
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp paprika powder
peanut oil for frying
lemon wedges for serving
lettuce for service (optional)
tartar sauce (recipe below)

Begin by washing the potatoes and cutting them into uniform pieces. The thickness is up to you - I made mine about 1/2 inch thick and 3 inches long. Place in a bowl filled with cold water. Heat the oil to 325 degrees F. Pat the potatoes completely dry before frying to avoid splatter. Cook the potatoes in small batches for about 2 minutes, until pale and floppy. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with the other batches until all of the potatoes are done.

Turn the oven to 250 degrees F.

In a large bowl, stir together 1 cup of the flour, the baking powder, the salt, the pepper and the paprika. Add the beer and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate for at least ten minutes.

Increase the temperature of the oil to 375 degrees F. In small batches, fry the potatoes until cooked through and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove to a paper-lined plate, then transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while finishing the rest of the food. Repeat until all the potatoes are cooked.

Remove the batter from the fridge. Cut the fish into chunks, roughly 2 by 5 inches. Put the remaining half cup of flour on a plate. Dip the fish strips in the flour, then in the batter. Fry until golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Make sure you do not overcrowd the oil. If you need to fry the fish in batches, transfer the cooked fish to the baking sheet in the oven, to keep warm.

Serve with lemon wedges, tartar sauce and some lettuce. If there are leftovers, you can reheat them in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes (but this dish is definitely best eaten fresh out of the fryer).

Tartar sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp pickles
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp capers
1 tsp coarse-grained mustard
black pepper

Start by cutting the pickles into small pieces. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the pickles are finely chopped and everything is mixed well. Keep in the fridge and use within a week.


  1. If you chose to use newspaper (which, incidentally, is no longer used for health reasons) ensure that you place some kitchen towel/paper towel between the newspaper and the food - unless you like your food covered in ink ;)

    If you want a truely authentic English version, use lard rather than oil to cook the fish/chips. Tastes far nicer, and gives a better texture to the batter and to the chips.

  2. Andreas, your chips are too thin, and overcooked! If you cut them fatter, they cook more nicely, absorbing the fat, and taste delish.
    And umm ... lettuce? Tartare sauce?? Tomato ketchup and salt and vinegar makes it authentic ;)


  3. I didn't claim to make anything authentic - just improved.