I was in my early 20's before I had my first bite of fish that wasn't fried (the beauty of small town living). And while I now love all methods of cooked fish, I still love fried fish the most. The main difference between frying it English-style vs. American-style seems to be the thickness of the batter. I'm guessing that some of the fish I ate growing up may not have been the tastiest because honestly, it all tasted like fried batter to me with a wee bit of something white inside. So for our first time making fried fish together, I wanted to be sure that the fish was the star and the batter only served to elevate it. I trolled the interwebs looking for a classic, British recipe and found this one on the site www.greatbritishchefs.com courtesy of Chef Josh Eggleton.
WHAT TO BUY
Fish 2 lbs fresh cod 100 g of seasoned flour
Batter 200g of plain flour 150ml of lager beer (we used Stella) 5g of salt 5g of pepper 150ml of ale (Guinness - obvi) 5g of mild curry powder
Crushed peas 400 g peas 2 tbsp butter 1 tbsp dried onion 1 crushed garlic clove Salt
HOW TO COOK
I found fresh cod at my local grocer and bought enough for four - just under 2 lbs total. After rinsing and drying the cod, I rolled it in 100g of seasoned flour (basically all purpose flour with 1 tbsp seasoned salt or just plain salt & pepper).
To make the fish batter, combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth. To keep it light, it needs to be quite runny. The little bit of curry added took this basic batter to greatness. It added an amazing amount of flavor and will now be my go-to ingredient for frying.
My kitchen is lacking a deep fryer - mostly because I'm afraid I would begin frying everything if I had one too accessible. For the fish and chips both, I used a wok and just kept my eye on it to ensure nothing was over-cooked. Once the fish was done, it went into a warmed oven while I finished up with the chips. I just cut large, russet potatoes into wedges and dropped them into boiling water for 4 minutes. We made half with the skin on and half off. Both of us prefer skin on - it gives an extra crunch and let's be honest - it's the only healthy thing in it. I removed them from the boiling water, dried them off and then lowered them a handful at a time into the hot leftover fish batter oil. It takes around 5 minutes to cook each batch.
In between frying the chips, I began work on the peas. So neither one of us are fans of traditional mushy peas nor am I fan of anything that begins with "mushy." So I like these being called crushed peas instead. I melted 2 tbsp of butter in a small pot and sauteed dried onions and garlic. Drop in 400g of peas and mix together. Remove from heat and pulse briefly in a food processor or blender - and I mean briefly. This makes it crushed vs. mushy.
To mimic a common takeaway "chippy," we wrapped the fish and chips in a newspaper and served it with lemon wedges, crushed peas and real English malt vinegar - then washed it down with a glass (or 3) of Fuller's.
Serves: 4 Time: 45 min