Fish and chips is one of those meals that you probably have at certain restaurants or pubs but never really think about making yourself. The problem with fish and chips is that you may get some that taste really good when you are out and you feel like you can never duplicate that at home or that you get some that are really bad and it can turn you off from them altogether. Add on to the problems by knowing that make fish and chips can be a bit laborious and messy, leading to a big clean up and a whole lot of oil that you need to try to get rid of. We like fish and chips in our house but I do not make them often quite simply because it is a lot of work and a lot of cleanup, even if I use the deep fryer to make them. However, with Michelle away on business, Sean asking me about them and me finding some really nice looking cod on my visit to Hudson Valley Seafood, it all led up to me taking out the deep fryer and trying this Craig Claiborne recipe from the New York Times for fish and chips.
Classic Fish and Chips
For the Beer Batter:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon corn, peanut or vegetable oil
1 large egg, separated
¾ cup beer at room temperature
¼ cup warm water
Salt to taste, if desired
For the Chips:
12 to 16 Idaho potatoes, about 4 pounds
Fat or oil for deep-frying
For the Fish:
4 skinless, firm-fleshed white fish fillets (such as cod), about 1 1/2 pounds
Tartar Sauce, for serving
Lemon wedges, for serving
Put the flour in a mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Put the oil and egg yolk in the well. Add the beer, stirring with a wire whisk. Stir in the warm water and the salt. Cover the bowl and let the batter stand for an hour or longer in a warm place.
Peel the potatoes and cut them into sticks that resemble french fries. Each stick should measure about half an inch thick, half an inch wide and two inches long. As the potatoes are cut, drop the sticks into cold running water. There should be about eight cups of potato sticks.
Meanwhile, cut the fish crosswise into pieces about five inches long and set them aside.
When you are ready to cook, drain the potatoes well and pat them dry.
Heat the oil to 325 degrees in a deep fryer; this heat is for preliminary cooking. Add the potato sticks and let them cook for about four minutes or slightly less. The sticks will not yet be browned and crisp. Lift them from the fat and drain them on paper towels.
Heat the oil to 375 degrees. Return the potatoes to the deep fryer and cook them until they are crisp and golden brown, about two to three minutes. Remove the potatoes from the oil and drain them on paper towels.
Beat the egg white until it is stiff and fold it into the batter.
Reduce the heat of the fat in the deep fryer to 360 degrees.
Dip one piece of fish fillet at a time in the batter, then drop it into the oil. Cook two or three pieces at a time but don’t crowd the cooker. Cook the fish until one batch is crisp and golden brown, about three minutes, then remove the pieces of fish and drain them on paper towels. Continue the cooking process until you have cooked all the fish and the pieces are done.
Serve the hot fish with the potatoes. In England, fish and chips are traditionally served with a bottle of vinegar – preferably malt vinegar – and salt to be sprinkled on both the fish and potatoes. You can also serve them with tartar sauce (homemade or store-bought) and lemon wedges, if desired.
I chose to try this recipe because it seemed to be the most basic to follow and looked like it would turn out good results. I cut the recipe in half since I was making this for just two of us and it was plenty of fish and chips for two. I used a basic lager for the beer but you could use any type of beer you want. Just remember certain flavors and stronger beers will leave a stronger taste to the batter so you want to consider what you are using. The chips came out perfectly, nicely browned with good flavor and bite to them. The fish was also great and Sean and I really liked the batter. It was perfectly crisp and had good flavor and he fish was cooked well, nice and moist and flavorful. I’m not going to lie – the clean up was a bit of a pain, but it was worth the effort to do this once in a while to make a really nice meal that you may not have that often.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!