Fish and chips…another dish that has been on our blog list intimidating us for quite some time. Part of the intimidation is that frying things still scares us because it’s finicky, hot and makes our kitchen smell like Long John Silver’s for two days after. The other part is that fish and chips is so ubiquitous that it doesn’t feel like we have much to contribute to a meal that is considered one of the earliest examples of culinary fusion. But, even though fish and chips has been on menus around the world since the mid-19th century, you don’t really think of it as something you can and should make at home. Our recipe twice fries the potatoes so that they are soft on the inside and golden brown on the outside. The fresh cod is dipped in a thick batter that becomes a crisp, flavorful shell for flaky, moist fish. You can order fish and chips at any old restaurant but you won’t find many versions that are as good as what you can make in your own kitchen. Give it a try! (And just don’t blame us when you smell your kitchen the morning after.)
Katryn’s Wine Pairing: SeaGlass 2014 Sauvignon Blanc
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
This wine was basically the exact opposite of the fish and chips…in a good way. Fish and chips are inherently a rich and indulgent food and this wine is light, crisp, balanced and clean tasting with tropical fruit aromas and the perfect level of acidity. A perfect contrast to a meal that tends to be a bit on the greasy side.
Like a good Oktoberfest should, this beer has a nice light body but with full malt flavors with a nice crisp finish. The malt compliments the vinegar and ketchup and the light body helps to wash down the deep fried goodness that is fish and chips.
Classic Fish and Chips
For the tartar sauce
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
2 tablespoons small-diced pickles or cornichons
1 tablespoon Champagne or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon capers
1 teaspoon coarse-grained mustard
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
For the fish and chips
8 to 9 cups canola oil
2 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick sticks
6-3/4 oz. (1-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
3-1/2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. Cayenne pepper
Dash of Old Bay seasoning
1-1/4 cups ice-cold water
4 thick cod or haddock fillets (6 oz. each), preferably cut from the head end
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large lemon, cut into wedges
Malt vinegar for serving
Make the tartar sauce
1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor or mini chopper fitted with a steel blade and pulse several times until the pickles are finely chopped and all the ingredients are well mixed but not pureed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 1 day ahead.
Make the fish and chips
1. Fill a heavy-duty 6-quart pot about one-third full with oil. Heat the oil over medium heat until it reads 260°F on a deep fat/candy thermometer. Add half of the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally with a skimmer or a large slotted spoon, until tender (you should be able to cut one with the side of the spoon) but not colored, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chips, shaking them to drain excess oil, to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet and spread in a single layer. Let the oil return to 260°F and repeat with the remaining potatoes.
2. Put a small rimmed baking sheet in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 250°F
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, 1 tsp. salt, and the water. It will have the consistency of pancake batter. Put the batter in the refrigerator and use within 20 minutes.
3. Raise the temperature of the oil to 325°F over medium-high heat. Pat the fish dry with paper towels and season with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper total. One at a time, dip two of the fillets in the batter and turn to coat well. Allow excess batter to drip off. Transfer the fillets to the oil, and fry, flipping once with tongs or a slotted spoon, until crisp and golden-brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer the fillets to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain and then transfer to the baking sheet in the oven to keep warm. Let the oil return to 325°F and repeat with the remaining fillets.
4. Raise the temperature of the oil to 375°F over medium-high heat. Add a small batch of chips and cook until crisp and golden, about 2 minutes. Using the skimmer or slotted spoon, shake the chips to drain excess oil and transfer them to another paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Let the oil return to 375°F and repeat with the remaining chips, cooking them in small batches. Keep them warm in the oven as well. Once all the fries are done, serve immediately!
5. Serve the fish and chips with the tartar sauce, lemon wedges, and malt vinegar.