Anyone who has lived in New England for any amount of time has assuredly heard of fish and chips. They’ve also more likely than not enjoyed it on several occasions at their favorite restaurants. If you love fish and chips but don’t love paying the high restaurant prices (or maybe just have a late-night undeniable hankering for some fish and chips), then this blog entry is for you. We’ll break down the process of how to make this classic dish at home in a way that doesn’t require any fancy restaurant equipment.
Your first order of business, quite obviously, will be to gather the items needed to prepare the meal with. There are many different routes you can take in regard to what oils you want to cook with, but for the sake of health we’ll suggest a low fat vegetable oil for the fish and peanut oil for the chips. The peanut oil will give your fries a nice “Five Guys” kind of flavor as this is the oil they use to cook their fries in. Aside from the oils, you’ll also need some liquid pancake batter, some Idaho Russet baking potatoes, flour, and rather obviously, some fish.
While you can make fish and chips from most any kind of fish, we’re going to use Cod as the example in this article, both because it was the kind of fish we used in the pictures you’ll see in this article and is also the classic whitefish for a New England fish and chips dinner. If you don’t have a deep fryer, there’s no need to worry. You can use regular boiling pots on a stove top in place of it. All you need to do is make sure the oil hits the right temperature (about 350 degrees for both the fish and chips). You can do this by clipping a frying thermometer to the side of your baking pots, making sure that the tip sits somewhere in the middle of the liquid and doesn’t hit the bottom of the pot.
Don’t be alarmed if the surroundings look a bit unfamiliar – this was done at home and not in our Old Saybrook seafood market. Once you have all of your ingredients together, it’s time to start the preparation. In order to make the batter stick to the fish fillets, you’ll want to press them dry using some thick paper towels and afterward, coating them in flour. After you’ve done this, place the fish inside of a bowl filled with pancake batter to let them get a nice, thick coating.
The preparation of the chips portion is fairly easy. Just take a few of the potatoes (the amount depends on how many people you’re looking to serve/how big the appetites involved are) and skin them down. Leaving just a little bit of skin on here and there helps in giving a little bit of an extra crunch to the chips as well as a nice and slightly Earthy flavor. Cut the potatoes in half, and then proceed to make lengthwise cuts until the chips are at the width you want them to be. Then, place the slices you’ve just created flat and cut them in strips, the size of which is dependent upon how thick you want your chips to be.
You’ll want to periodically check the temperature of your oil by way of using the frying thermometer. When the desired temperature has been reached, you can then VERY carefully take the fish out of the batter using some tongs and place the fillets into the vegetable oil. Follow this same process with the fries, minus placing them in the batter of course. For optimal cooking time, you’ll want to be sure that you’ve used the right level of oil such that it just slightly covers what you’re cooking.
Once the potatoes and the fish have been placed in the pots, place a lid on top to speed up the process a bit. Periodically check to see that both the fries and the fish are achieving a nice golden color and crisp texture, indicating that they are ready to be removed from the oil. The time this will take is largely dependent upon how much of each item you’re cooking and how close to the ideal 350 degrees you’ve managed to stick to.
As you’re waiting for your fish and chips to finish cooking, take out a baking tray and cover it with two cooling racks. You’ll need this setup in place for when the fish and chips are done, because you’ll want to drain off excess grease and oil before consuming your meal. When cooking is complete, once again exercise the utmost of caution and remove the fish and chips from the pots using a set of tongs. Place them on top of the cooling racks and let the excess oils drip off and allow for cooling. If you’re not going to be able to eat the fish and chips right away, you may place them in your oven at a temperature of 200 degrees (after draining is complete) to keep them warm.
Once all of these steps are done, all that’s left to do is put your fish and chips on to a plate, dress them with any desired condiments, and enjoy. You’ll find that the pancake batter lends the fish a little bit of a sweet and salty combination in regard to the coating and once you’ve experienced it, you’ll likely find yourself buying liquid pancake batter in mass quantities in the near future.