Fish and chips – a food for the ages

The Codfish
By Anonymous
The codfish lays ten thousand eggs,
The homely hen lays one.
The codfish never cackles
To tell you what she’s done.
And so we scorn the codfish,
While the humble hen we prize,
Which only goes to show you
That it pays to advertise.

Succulent, fresh, juicy and ready to be eaten.

Succulent, fresh, juicy and ready to be eaten.

In a class all its own, it’s a very typical British staple that never fails to live up to its aroma. Fish and chips is a take-out food that consists of battered fish, typically cod or halibut, and deep-fried potatoes (chips).

Good fish and chips is irresistible to me. Even today, if I go out for lunch or dinner and this is on the menu, I have to have it. Ask me why and I may say it’s the aroma! I may say it’s the way the vinegar on the fries makes my mouth explode! I may even say lemon juice, tartar sauce and battered fish rock my world.What I do know is that I simply love it.

It originated in the United Kingdom, introduced by Spanish and Portuguese immigrants, and quickly became a standard meal for all classes, a consequence of trawling in the mid-1850s. The first fish-and-chip shop was opened in London by Joseph Milan.

The modern fish-and-chip shop (chippy) originated in the U.K., although outlets selling fried food existed throughout Europe. Early fish-and-chip shops had very basic facilities, normally consisting of a large cauldron of cooking fat, heated over a coal fire. During the Second World War, fish and chips remained one of the few foods in the U.K. not subject to rationing.

If you have never had this dish, give it a go; if you have had this dish, have it again.

Ingredients
Potatoes:
8 large potatoes, peeled and sliced into wedges.

The batter:
1 bottle of beer
2 cups of all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper for taste

The fish:
1½ pounds of cod or halibut fillets
Turn a deep fryer to the required setting; the oil should be at 375 F. Place the potato wedges in the hot oil and cook for 10 minutes or so, until golden brown. Remove the potatoes and wrap with a paper towel.

Put 1½ cups of flour and the beer into a large bowl. Whisk together gently until you have a thick sauce and zero lumps. Pat the fish fillets with a paper towel until the pieces are dry on both sides, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to season. Slide the seasoned fish into the batter mix and coat the fish until the pieces are fully immersed in the batter. Remove the fish and place on a plate.

With the remaining ½ cup of flour dredge the now battered fish and slide half the pieces carefully into the hot oil. Turn the fish after two minutes to achieve a golden colour all over. Cook for a further three minutes, then remove the fish from the oil and cover the pieces with a paper towel. This will pick up any excess oil that may be on the batter. Place in a warm oven. Fry the remaining battered fish following the same method.

To serve, place the fish on dinner plates with the fries and sprinkle sea salt over them. Serve with malt vinegar, tartar sauce and lemon slices.

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