Authentic British Fish & Chips

Published On 18 April, 2012 | Kosher, Veggie Option

I grew up on the coast.  Never did I imagine I’d move to an ocean-less city, and recently, I’ve been missing the smell of that salty sea air.  There really isn’t an ocean close than 750 miles away so perhaps a weekend at a lake will have to suffice some time in the coming months.  We’ll manage to squeeze it in somewhere between home-buying, moving and the birth of our second child, I’m sure of it.

The ocean takes me back to my childhood.  I can close my eyes and feel the pebbles beneath my feet, smell the freshly battered and fried cod fillets and taste chips,golden and crunchy on the outside, soft and buttery in the middle.  Perhaps it’s better not to live on the coast so I can savor the memories and they don’t become dull or routine!

It’s rare that I fry food.  If you’ve read my blog before today you’ll know my approach is seasonal, local and organic.  That’s not so today as I share one of those meals that we keep as a treat.  There’s no specific occasion associated with this dish, we don’t plan it, but every twelve months or so, we indulge in this taste of the seaside.

Every time I make Fish and Chips, I consider buying a deep fat fryer, but I’d rather not have the temptation in the house.  I did, however, splurge and treat myself to a Chef Basket, and it fits beautifully in my Le Creuset dutch oven, and the meal was, as always, a treat.  Today, I share my simple and delicious British Fish and Chips recipe.

Authentic British Fish and Chips Recipe

You’ll need the following ingredients

  • 3lbs Fish, cod is preferred, tilapia will work well too
  • 7 large Russet Potatoes
  • 4 cups of (whole wheat or unbleached) all purpose flour
  • 2 bottles of amber or golden beer.
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/2 jar pickles
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Malt Vinegar

Getting Started with the Chips: Before you do anything, fill you dutch oven or pot with oil and put it on a medium-high heat so the oil starts to warm.  You want it to be ready when you have cut your potatoes.  You want to start with the chips for two reasons.  First of all, they take the longest, second of all, they won’t dry out as much as the fish if you keep them warm in the oven.  Peel your potatoes and put them in cold water.  Do not leave them out in the open air, they will go brown!  Then cut them into to thick chunks.  When your oil is hot, carefully add the potatoes and fry until golden brown.

The chances are you’ll have to do two or three batches so turn the oven to warm (250 degrees) and have a pyrex tray or a cookie sheet ready.

While you’re chips are frying, you can tackle the tartar sauce.  I don’t really follow a recipe for the tartar sauce and you want to adjust it to your taste, but the basic principles are simple.  Dice your pickles, add 1 cup of mayo and season with the juice of a lemon.  Add salt, black pepper and pickle juice until the flavors are balanced.  Tartar sauce is very easy to make and it’s delicious on top of freshly fried fish.

Now, for Fried Fish in Beer Batter… this is really the fun part but you need to more fairly quickly and make sure you oil is still hot and ready.  Combine your flour with the beer.  Mix it gently, if you’d like a lighter, fluffier batter then use a whisk.  Some people season the batter.  I prefer to stay true to the flavor of the fish.  The batter will cook almost instantly in the hot oil, sealing the fish inside it.  As long as you don’t over-cook it, the fish will still be juicy when you take that first bite.

Dip the fish in the batter and use the Anne Burrell method using one hand for dry ingredients and the other for wet.   Put the fish into the hot oil making sure there is enough space for it to cook – I had no more than three fillets in my pot at one time.  Within a minute the batter will be golden brown you’ll be able to take the fish out of the oil.  Be careful, and use tongs!  Hot oil can be dangerous!

Put the fish on a tray and keep it warm with your chips in the oven.  Serve your meal with with Ketchup, Salt and Malt Vinegar.

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