Are fish and chips the greatest meal ever conceived by humankind? Obviously. Anyone who disagrees can send their arguments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Why then, can’t I get any decent fish and chips in Singapore?! The only reason can be that the country has only been subjected to a sub-par imitation of the world’s leading food pairing. Anyway, I can’t buy it, so I guess I’ll have to make it. FINE.
So if we’re going to make fish and chips ourselves, what do we want? A crispy battered fillet of white fish (preferably cod or haddock), some chunky chips with crispy shells and fluffy insides, and then some accompaniments to give some vague idea of healthiness. Personally, I go for the mushy peas, because they’re green (healthy) and provide an excuse to introduce some butter, and then a tangy tartar sauce to cut through the fat.
When thinking about fish and chips, the fish needs to be the centrepiece, but not in the way you might think. Yes, you want a succulent, tasty and well-cooked piece of cod/haddock/whatever, but the real star of the show is really the batter. The key to achieving batter heaven is the creation of bubbles, in this case from a cold beer (you could use soda water; just make sure it’s cold) and a bit of baking powder for extra oomph. The resulting bubbles provide a light and crispy texture, far removed from that terrible doughy batter that keeps infecting the globe with its shitness.
As for the chips, if you want to be going all in and are aiming for the stars, there is no better technique than Heston Blumenthal’s triple cooked chips, because science. There’s not actually much science involved, but they’re the best anyway. Simmer the potato sticks until almost cooked and beginning to crack (crispy bits!), before refrigerating to ‘set’ and frying at a low temperature to cook through. Refrigerate them again, before blasting in hot oil to crisp up and warm through, resulting in the greatest fluffy batton (who am I?) of potato on the planet.
As for the extras, the British chip shop has many options; from pickled eggs to curry sauce, but the absolute classic has to be mushy peas. A little bit of sweetness just goes so well with the fish and chips, that it had to be this one for me. So, so simple as well. In addition, a tangy tartar sauce is just the thing to cut through the grease while still providing plenty of flavour, even though it’s basically just posh mayo.
Notes on Cooking
If you can’t be bothered with triple-cooking your chips, then you can reduce it to just boiling and then frying, or even just frying, although your final product will be somewhat lacking. For those with an aversion to waiting for their potatoes, just use oven chips.
Making mayonnaise, and therefore tartar sauce can be a bit of a pain, especially if you haven’t done it before. Don’t worry though, if you can’t be bothered just use some shop bought stuff and mix in the rest of the ingredients, it’ll still be bangin’, just a bit less.
Fish and chips are the ultimate comfort food, and making them at home really isn't that hard. Crispy chips and battered fish will always be a winner.
- 500 g potatoes
- 250 g frozen peas
- 20 mL double cream
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 egg yolks
- 150 mL groundnut oil
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 cornichons finely chopped
- 5 g flat leaf parsley finely chopeed
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tbsp capers finely chopped
- 2 cod fillets
- 115 g plain flour 1
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 150 mL cold beer
Peel the potatoes and chop into chips of around 1 cm in thickness, soak in cold water for 10 minutes.
Place the chips into a large saucepan and cover with cold salted water. Bring to a boil and simmer until almost cooked through.
Remove from the water and drain, before transferring to the fridge for at least an hour.
Heat 5 - 8 cm of oil (peanut/groundnut oil is great) in a large saucepan to 130oC. I use a sugar thermometer to check the temperature. Never fill a pan more than ⅓ full of oil.
Fry the chips for 5 minutes, before removing from the oil, draining on paper towels and returning to the fridge for a further hour
When you want to finish the chips, heat the same oil up to 180oC, and cook the chips for a further 5 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.
Drain on paper towels and salt while hot.
Boil the peas in salted water until tender, about 2 - 5 minutes depending on their size.
Pulse the hot peas in a food processor until mostly broken down, but still with some texture.
Blend in the cream and butter, and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Whisk the egg yolks together with a pinch of salt in a large bowl.
Slowly begin to add the oil, a drop at a time while whisking constantly. You need to add the oil slowly to prevent the mayonnaise from splitting, so take your time. You cannot add the oil too slowly.
Once you’ve reached your desired thickness (you may not need all of the oil, you may need a bit more) whisk in the mustard and lemon juice.
Stir in the rest of the ingredients and season to taste.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl, stir well.
Whisk in the beer to create a light batter.
Heat 5 - 8 cm of oil in a large saucepan to 180oC. I use a sugar thermometer to check the temperature. Never fill a pan more than ⅓ full of oil.
Coat the fish in the batter and lower gently into the hot oil. Fry for a total of 6 to 7 minutes until golden brown all over. Turn the cod over halfway through.
Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels before serving.
Sprinkle some of the leftover batter into the oil and scoop them out with a slotted spoon once the fish is done for crispy scraps.