Fish and chips became a meal amongst the working class in England once the railroad was established in the 1800s. Fishing was very common in the North Sea, and with the railroads, the fresh fish could be easily transported to highly-populated urban areas. The approach of frying fish was first introduced to the English by Spanish Jews, although they originally coated the fish only in flour. Over time, the dish evolved into being battered in a mixture of flour with a liquid – usually beer. The pairing of fried fish with chips (i.e., fries) came about near the same time. During the World Wars, fish and chips was one of the only foods not rationed, and therefore became increasingly popular during that time. The first fish and chips shop was created by a Jewish immigrant named Joseph Malin in 1860. Ever since that time, fish and chips have been a popular and inexpensive British favorite. Top your fish and chips with lemon juice, vinegar, or tartar sauce, and enjoy!
3 lbs potatoes (russet or Yukon gold), peeled and cut into 1/4” thick batons
4 cod or haddock fillets
2 cups plain flour, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 bottle very cold beer, use approximately 8 oz of it
Light-flavored oil for frying (safflower, soybean, corn, vegetable, and grapeseed are all good options)
Lemon for serving (optional)
Vinegar for serving (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Dry the sliced potatoes with paper towels and allow them to sit out and dry for approximately 30 minutes. This will help the fries become crisp.
Add 1.5 inches of oil to a heavy bottomed pot and heat to 330 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 wire racks with 2 layers of paper towels each.
First, fry the potatoes until they are a light tan color and the edges are starting to brown (approximately 3 minutes). Move the fries to one prepared rack to drain.
Mix the flour, paprika, onion powder, salt, and pepper together until well-combined. Dredge fish fillets in the flour mixture thoroughly. Really make sure it’s coated well – this stops the batter from sliding off when it’s fried.
Once the potatoes are done frying, add the baking powder to the left-over flour mixture and whisk together. Next, slowly add the very cold beer to the mixture until you have reached a desired consistency, and lightly whisk together. Try not to overmix the batter or it will become heavy.
Increase the oil temperature to around 350-360 degrees Fahrenheit. Below 350 F and your batter will become soggy. Above 375, the battered fish will burn. Hold each fillet by its thinner end and swirly around in the batter. Fry immediately, in batches if necessary. Don’t overcrowd the pot or the oil temperature will drop. Once the edges of one side turn light brown, flip the fish. For this portion of the frying, your oil. Transfer the fish to the second prepared rack.
Increase the oil temperature back up to 375. Fry the chips a second time until they are golden brown and crisp. Drain on a prepared rack and sprinkle with salt.
Time to fry the fish again. Ensure the oil is closer to 375 than 350 this time. Fry them until each side is golden brown, then drain on a prepared rack again.
Serve the fish and chips with lemon wedges and vinegar.
*picture courtesy of http://www.delonghi.com