Fish and Chips

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

Appears in

Floyd on Britain & Ireland

By Keith Floyd

Published 1988

  • About

The Great British Fish and Chips only came into being in the late nineteenth century after the dreaded French had invented the fried chip potato. Previously, battered and deep-fried fish was served with mushy peas, chiefly by street vendors. Curiously, the French, normally so disparaging about our food, adore the fish and the chips which they regard as uniquely British. No doubt many books have been written on the subject and even the editor of The Good Food Guide has wandered around the country looking for the perfect version. I offer you mine without prejudice or compromise.

Method

First, the batter

Beat about 4 oz (100 g) best-quality plain flour into a smooth paste with about ¼ pint (150 ml) water only, then add a dash of finest malt vinegar. An alternative basic coating batter.

Second, the fish

Choose skinned fillets from a large, firm-fleshed, fresh North Sea cod, well washed and thoroughly dried.

Third, the fat

You must have a pan full of best-quality beef dripping.

Fourth, the chips

Cut these from firm, waxy-textured potatoes. We used to use Golden Wonder until they ceased to become widely available. First rinse them thoroughly under running cold water, and dry them very carefully.

Fifth, the method

Detailed instructions for cooking perfect chips. The important thing is to plunge the chips into hot fat (360°F, 167°C) until they are almost cooked, but not browned. Lift them out and strain them carefully. Now re-heat the fat, coat your fish in the batter and cook a piece at a time until it is crispy and golden. Then re-heat the fat once again and pop in the chips to crisp and brown off.

Like a perfect omelette, fish and chips should be served without delay or deference to the guests: as each individual piece is ready, serve it. Let your guests help themselves to the best sea salt and the finest malt vinegar.