Britain’s Favourite: Fish & Chips
Who likes fish and chips?? I can see a lot of hands raised!! Of course, I love this dish from time to time too. Fish and chips is the classic English takeaway food and is the national food of England. It became popular in the 1860′s when railways began to bring fresh fish straight from the east coast to the cities over night. Traditionally, fish and chips are eaten out of newspaper. Nowadays, small wooden forks are provided and the fish and chips are wrapped in greaseproof paper.
White fish such as cod, haddock, huss, plaice is deep fried in flour batter and is eaten with chips. In Northern England, fish and chips is often served with mushy peas. There are various recipes available for fish and chips. Most of the fish and chips from the takeaway is a basic water and flour batter, a little baking soda and a little vinegar to create lightness as they create bubbles in the batter. Other recipes may use beer or milk batter, where these liquids are often substitutes for water. I think beer batter is one of the most popular ones and the one that I really love.
Not too far from where I live, there is a famous pub called The Mayflower that serves up very yummy fish and chips. The portion is really big.They use different kind of batter, which is really light and crispy. I think, they add some breadcrumbs in the batter. It was a while ago when I last visited the pub.
So, I decided to create one of the Britain’s national dishes – fish and chips at home! It may not be as good as the one at the pub, but, it was good enough to satisfy my sinful cravings. I chose to use sustainable cod. Cod is always my favourite fish, its firm and fine flesh is great to be cooked just in any way you want.
If you fish and chips with a slight twist, you can try this that I posted a while ago!
Fish & Chips
For the fish:
4 x 200g cod
150g + 2 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1l sunflower oil
For the chips:
500g potatoes, cut into chunky chips and soaked in water
1l sunflower oil
For the mushy peas: (optional)
300g petit pois
1 tbsp butter
or purchase a tin of mushy peas
1. Peel and cut the potatoes into chunky slices and place in a saucepan. Pour in water to cover and bring to the boil and cook until just starting to soften. Drain and leave to cool. Once cool enough, can put in the fridge to chill a littler before deep frying.
2. Pat the fish dry with kitchen paper. Season on both sides. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to cook.
3. Cook the peas following packet instructions. Drain, leaving behind some liquid, then stir in 1 tablespoon of butter. Mash with a masher or whizz with a hand blender for a smoother finish. Set aside.
4. Mix flour with the salt and baking powder into a big mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour half the beer into the well and whisk, gradually incorporating the flour from around the bowl to make a thick batter. Whisk in the remaining beer. Cover and leave to stand for 1 hour in the fridge.
5. Heat oil in a pan. When the oil is hot enough (test it with a small chunk of potato, if oil starts steadily bubbling, then the temperature is good). Add half the potatoes and fry for 10-12 minutes until golden. Repeat for the rest of the chunky chips. Drain the chips on kitchen paper, keep the chips hot in a moderate oven while frying the second batch, and the fish.
6. Pat both of fillets with flour (2 tbsp), shake off excess. Check the temperature of the oil to make sure it's not too hot after frying the chips. Dip a piece of fish in the batter until completely coated. Fry for about 4 minutes until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper on a plate and keep warm in the oven under moderate heat (along with the chips) while coating and frying the remaining pieces. Serve hot with the chips, lemon wedges, mushy peas, ketchup (for the chips) and tartare sauce (optional - for the fish).