According to Jasper White, the author of The Summer Shack Cookbook, the trick to making great fish and chips at home is to forget the chips and focus exclusively on the fish: "I have decided that making fish and chips in a home kitchen is crazy."
The issue? While both can be cooked in a big pot of a oil, each requires different temperatures and times—you either need two pots of bubbling oil or cook one before the other. Unfortunately, both taste best when eaten immediately. So do what I did and serve the fish with some coleslaw or broccoli instead of chips, and give the fish a little more attention.
And what a fish recipe this is. The batter is a mix of flour and cornstarch, which comes out shatteringly crisp and remarkably un-greasy. A nice English ale is the preferred beer of choice, though I imagine any good lager would work, too. Of course, it helps to have a nice fillet underneath; the cod I used worked perfectly. The fish was tender and flaky, and some malt vinegar added a nice bite.
- For the Batter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cornstarch
- one 12-ounce can beer (ale, larger)
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- For the Fish
- 6 cups peanut or canola oil
- 1 ½ pounds skinless fillets (cod, flounder, fluke, or haddock), cut into four pieces, less than ¾-inch thick
- salt and pepper
- malt vinegar, or lemon
For the Batter: Whisk together flour, cornstarch, beer, egg, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Make sure there are no lumps. Cover bowl and place in fridge for at least 20 minutes, and up to 3 hours.
For the Fish: Pour oil into a large dutch oven. Turn heat to medium and bring to a temperature of 375°F.
Dry fish fillets with paper towels. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Drop each piece into the bowl of batter.
When oil is at 375°F., remove one piece of fish out with a pair of tongs, letting the excess batter drip back into the bowl. Then lower it into the oil, holding on to it for a few seconds to keep it from sticking to the bottom. Repeat process with other fillets. Adjust heat to medium-high to keep temperature at about 350°F. Cook until fillets are golden brown, about five minutes.
Drain fish fillets on a baking sheet covered with paper towels. Serve with cole slaw, malt vinegar, lemon, or whatever you like best.