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Fish and chips is a British staple and their original “fast food.”
Fish and chips is another fond memory of my childhood.
Friday nights in my house were always fish nights–and that’s strange because we weren’t Catholic. My mother said that by the time Friday rolled around, she was tired of meat and wanted the meal to be completely different. We rotated different fish each Friday and cooking methods. Mainly my mom baked or broiled, but once a month, she’d do her fish and chips. Need I say my house was popular on Fridays with my friends who all wanted a sleepover, and oh yeah–my mom’s fish and chips!
Unlike in Britain, we in the US don’t have a corner “chippy” (Brit slang for a fish & chip shop) to run down to so we have to make it at home. Not to worry–it’s stupidly easy to make! All you need is flour, beer and a few condiments you have on the shelf, and of course, the fish.
In England, it’s made with several different white fishes–skate, which happens to be my favorite–is one of them and so is cod. Here in the States where we can’t get some varieties they do in UK, we tend to use cod. Cod fillet runs a little thicker and it’s a firm fish which makes it perfect for batter dipping and frying.
My mother said years ago, the chippies would serve you up your order-to-go in newspaper. Some places may still do that for tourists, but any time I went to a chippy in UK, it was served up in parchment paper.
And the way they eat chips, aka French Fries, is with malt vinegar. That’s old style. I’m sure the standard condiment there now is tomato sauce (what they call ketchup) just like it is here. I however, prefer tartar sauce–and my recipe is also stupidly easy.
If you have an electric deep fryer, this is a wiz to make, but you don’t need one. A dutch oven with a wire basket will do just fine. Don’t have a wire basket? That’s OK too–just use a skimmer or slotted spoon to remove the fish.
The traditional chips are much like our steak fries and they are made from scratch. I don’t bother with this–I use frozen. Regular straight cut. When anyone asks me why I don’t make my own, it reminds me of the answer Ralph Kramden gave the mambo teacher in that episode of the Honeymooners when the teacher asked why the men didn’t do little polite things for their wives–“Why we don’t do it? Why we don’t do it….because it’s too much trouble, that’s why we don’t do it.” And that pretty much is MY answer about the chips. Buying them all nicely cut and ready to go is just so easy!
To stop the fish and the chips from getting soggy if you have to fry in batches, place them on a wire cooling rack set in a large baking sheet. Don’t use paper towels–the heat will make steam and that’s why it’ll be soggy.
The oil you use is pretty much useless for anything else after making the fried fish. You can use it probably once more to make another batch, but that’ll be it for the oil.
Fish and Chips
- 1 lb cod fillet cut into 4 serving-sized pieces
- 1/4 cup flour
- oil for frying--NOT OLIVE OIL
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 8 oz beer see NOTES
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- Whisk together all batter ingredients in a medium bowl; let the batter sit for 15-30 minutes.
- If using a dutch oven to deep fry, you need about 2-inches of oil in the pan.
- Heat oil to 375 degrees F
- Dust the fish portions with the 1/4 cup flour.
- Dip each fish portion in the batter, letting excess run off.
- Place fish in hot oil. Fry for 8 minutes, turning fish over half way through the frying time.
- Remove with slotted spoon and place on a cooling rack set in a large baking sheet, then place in a 200 degree F oven to keep warm while either frying another batch of fish or the french fries.
- For french fries--heat oil to 375 degrees F. Place potatoes in hot oil and fry for 3-4 minutes.
- Serve with tartar sauce (recipe in NOTES)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tbs sweet relish
1 tbs instant onion -OR- 2 tbs finely chopped fresh onion.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.