Sometimes I get an idea in my head for no reason and it takes hold. Friday, I decided on fish and chips. I never made this from scratch before, but I had a vision of crispy beer batter and sea salt. I wanted the drab army green peas. I heard the bubbling oil and felt the white fish under my knife.
No never-mind I had just SCRUBBED my kitchen within an inch of its life. Sheesh! Why don’t I ever think of these things the day BEFORE I go on a cleaning jag?
But there are two important secrets to frying in the kitchen and not making a mess. 1) Use a splash screen. It really makes a difference. 2) Use a deep pot. I shallow fry, so there’s no reason for a lot of splash out of the pot if it’s deep enough.
The third secret would be to fry out on the burner of your gas grill. But it’s too dang cold for that here.
So I set out to Hill’s Seafood, our favorite fishmonger, and picked up some haddock. It was more expensive than tilapia, which would have worked, but the haddock was fresh and plump and I couldn’t resist.
I got home, prepped the chips and made my first beer batter. I was so impressed at how easy it was and then how well it turned out. My husband declared it “epic.” Now, three days later, I want to make it again. The amounts in this recipe fed two adults well, with a lunch of leftovers to spare.
Fish and Chips
- 2 large Russet potatoes
- 1 lb firm white fish (haddock, tilapia)
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- 12 oz beer
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- pinch of cayenne
- 2 cups oil (I used vegetable, but peanut is good for frying as well)
- Wash potatoes and cut into large fries. Soak in ice water for 30 minutes to pull out some of the starch, drain and dry thoroughly.
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Heat oil in a deep pot to 350 degrees (in case you don’t have a candy thermometer: when a drop of batter is placed in the oil, it should fry vigorously. Oil should not smoke.).
- Pat fish dry, cut into pieces about 5 inches long. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper and cayenne. Toss fish in dry mix and set fish aside. Whisk beer into dry mix. Batter should be smooth.
- First, work on the fries (I double fry). Working in small batches (it will probably take three turns for all of the potatoes), gently place potatoes in oil, frying until just starting to brown. Remove from oil and set aside to drain excess oil and cool.
- Once oil returns to temperature, dip fish pieces in beer batter and gently place them in the oil. To allow plenty of room between pieces, only fry a few at a time. When batter looks set on top, turn pieces, Both sides should be golden brown and fish should be flaky inside.
- As the fish finishes, place pieces in the warm oven on a baking sheet. (I place a cooling rack on the baking sheet so the fish doesn’t sit in oil and get soggy on the bottom)
- When oil is up to temperature again, re-fry potatoes in small batches until golden.
- Salt fish and chips while hot and serve with lemon, tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, ketchup and/or malt vinegar.