I’m talking about that utterly delicious, quintessentially British (and Irish!), traditionally-wrapped-in-newspaper fish and chips (or F&C, as we aficianados refer to it 😉 ).
When my hubby and I went on our grand European adventure in 2006 (a week in Ireland, a week in London, and a week in Paris), we happily sampled authentic F&C in both Ireland and London, and we were in love!
Once we got home, I tried various recipes to try and replicate that delicious F&C taste and texture, but while I came up with some tasty meals, nothing came close.
Then one day, I noted a little book for sale — “Irish Pub Cooking” by Larry Doyle — and hubby gifted it to me. Chock-full of many tasty recipes, the one that most excited us was for Fish and Chips in Lager Batter.
The minute we tasted it, we both said “THIS IS IT! This makes me think of Ireland!”
It is now our favorite — and only! — F&C recipe. Hubby likes it so well that he requested this as his birthday meal for his birthday on Wednesday, along with his absolute favorite bleu cheese coleslaw. (BTW, ignore the date and time on the pics below — we took them on this past Wednesday, when I made the F&C for hubby’s birthday.)
The type of fish is key for this recipe — you want to use either cod or halibut. I’ve only ever used cod, as it is somewhat easier to get here. You can use the batter for other types of fish, and it will be tasty, but it won’t be like authentic F&C.
We love, love, LOVE our F&C with lashings of malt vinegar — no ketchup on the chips for us! However, even though I am so not a tartar sauce gal, I have learned that I absolutely adore the tartar sauce I make based on the recipe in the same “Irish Pub Cooking” cookbook. I find it to be especially delicious as a spread on fish sandwiches made with leftover fish — and when we do up a batch of F&C, I always try to “make up a mess of it,” as we say down here in the South, so that we’ll have leftovers. (I’ve found that the batter is sufficient for up to 2 1/2 to sometimes 3 pounds of fish.)
Calling for just a few basic ingredients, this recipe is not difficult, but it does take some time, as you have to fry the food in batches. Frying the chips twice is what makes them crisp instead of greasy. Also, the temperature of the oil is very important (see the hints following the recipe). I just try start in on it all early, and watch the TV in my kitchen or listen to music while cooking up the F&C.
This tastes so yummy, all you need to do is add a pint (or half pint!) of Guinness and start singing a good ol’ Irish tune (go on, give it a listen — you know you want to!):
Fish and Chips (F&C) in Lager Batter (1 1/2 pounds fish will serve 4; I always try to make up extra for some yummy leftovers)
- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds fresh cod or halibut, bones removed, cut into approximately 2-ounce pieces (The batter makes enough that you can pretty much fry up as much as you like–we make up a big batch & eat it for a couple of days; we use cod when we can get it)
- 2 cups all purpose flour, DIVIDED
- Chopped parsley to taste, 1 to 2 tablespoons (I use fresh when I can get it)
- 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces, or an American can or bottle) lager beer AT ROOM TEMPERATURE (I use Sam Adams Boston Lager)
- 2 pounds or so of Russet or Idaho potatoes, peeled, if desired (I leave the peeling on) and sliced into 1/2″ chips (of course, you can slice them more thickly or thinly if you desire)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Oil for frying (we use canola — I save it in a container marked “fish oil” and use it only for F&C)
CHIPS, Step 1: Heat oil (deep fat fryer or stove) to 325F. Fry potatoes in 2 or 3 batches until they are soft or beginning to soften in the center but are not browned or only just beginning to brown (5 to 10 minutes). Drain well on paper towels & set aside to let cool.
Heat oil to 375F.
BATTER: Mix together ONE CUP of the flour with the beer; stir or whisk until smooth. Add in parsley (1 to 2 tablespoons) and salt & pepper to taste. Separately, season remaining ONE CUP of flour to taste with salt and pepper. (Recipe calls for white pepper, but I use coarse ground black pepper & sea salt.)
FISH: Coat the fish pieces with the seasoned flour, then thoroughly coat with the lager batter before dropping into the fryer. Fry until golden brown, usually about 5 to 8 minutes. Drain well on paper towels and keep warm. You will be frying the fish in several batches, of course.
CHIPS, Step 2: Reduce oil temp to 325F. Fry potatoes a second time, until they are golden brown and crisp. Drain well on paper towels, season to taste with salt.
Serve with lashings of malt vinegar and/or tartar sauce. Refrigerate leftovers.
1. If frying on the stove (as opposed to a deep fryer), use a deep, large pot, such as a Dutch oven, as opposed to a skillet–this will greatly reduce spatter & mess!
2. Temps are important! I test/confirm mine with a fryer/candy thermometer. Remember, the temp of the oil will go down when you put in the food, so you will need to keep an eye on it and adjust the temp accordingly.
3. Any leftover F&C will re-crisp quite nicely in the oven or toaster oven after a few minutes at 325F to 375F (when I re-crisp it in the oven, I usually put it all in the oven while it is pre-heating; by the time or sometimes before the oven reaches its designated temp, the F&C is usually all crisp & heated again).
I don’t generally care for tartar sauce, and I use lashings of malt vinegar on my F&C, but I do like, also, this tartar sauce, which I’ve adapted from the little “Irish Pub Cooking” book my beloved gave me.
- 1 cup (more or less) of mayonnaise or salad dressing (I use Miracle Whip Lite)
- 2 to 4 tablespoons diced pickle (dill, kosher, whatever you like), or more or less, to taste
- 1 tablespoon or so of parsley, or more or less to taste
- 3 or 4 green olives, with pimentos, diced (or more or less to taste)
- 1 tablespoon of tarragon, or more or less to taste
- Splash of Tobasco sauce
- Salt & black pepper to taste (I like to use sea salt & coarse ground black pepper)
Mix all ingredients together and set in ‘fridge for flavors to meld.
NOTE: The way I wrote this out above is how I make it. The recipe in the cookbook calls for mayonnaise; an ounce of capers instead of green olives; 4 ounces of pickled gherkins, cucumbers, onions or zucchini, finely chopped instead of just some chopped pickle; and also 2 hard boiled eggs, peeled & chopped.