Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Breaded Fish and Chips

Or: "How to bag a British girl for life"

(As pork pies are kryptonite to British men, so is fish and chips the one bona fide weakness of British women)

Ready in: 45 minutes
Multi-tasking level: Medium-high, but worth it
Feeds: 4

2 large haddock fillets
I’m using haddock here because I’m cooking for traditionalists. Cod is also traditional. There’s really cheap white fish out there if you just go to the counter and ask what’s good
6ish potatoes
Alter according to hunger
3 tbsp breadcrumbs
If you object to paying for breadcrumbs, literally put your stale bread in a blender. If it’s not too old, grill it in the oven first to make it crumbly. Panko are Japanese breadcrumbs- they’re the best (absorb the least oil, making everything crispy) but also the most expensive.  Weigh up your priorities.
1 egg

2 tbsp flour

3 tbsp mayo
I use light mayo because I’m a girl and therefore like to trick myself into thinking mayo isn’t just oil and more oil
1 tbsp capers
Capers are delicious. Keep them in your fridge. The jar is pricey, but will last for months, even a year
1 splash lemon juice

5 cups peas
I’m using petit pois because I’m a fancy French lady (NB: Not actually French, but still super-fancy)
2 garlic cloves

                                             Total: £8.22
                                              Or, £2.05 each
·       Frying pan for fish
·       Saucepan for boiling potatoes
·       Saucepan for peas (can be the same one, frankly)
·       Roasting dish for chips
·       Small bowl and spoon for tartar sauce
·       3 small plates/bowls/upturned pan lids for Fish Action-Station

1.       Par boil the chips
a.        Scrub the potatoes but leave the skins on (unless you’re a wuss) and cut them into nice thin chips- this will cut down on cooking time and avoid the dreaded so-chunky-it’s-basically-a-baked-potato chip
b.       Boil for 10 minutes to soften them up a bit
c.        Once they’re on the boil, preheat the oven to 205 C. Stick a roasting dish inside with a thin but even covering of oil on the bottom- enough that you can see it move when you tilt it
d.       Optional: put a whole, unpeeled clove of garlic in the oil. Makes the chips slightly garlicy, without the risk of disgusting burned stuff.
2.       Chips in oven
a.        Drain the potatoes and pat with kitchen towel to get some of the water off. Note the delicious slimy starch- this is what’s going to make the chips crunchy
b.       Shove the chips in the pre-warmed oily roasting dish. Take out the garlic now, if you put some in- remember that if chips are on top of each other they will take ages to cook- spread them out. Start making the sauce now
c.        Every 10 minutes, take them out and move them around with a spatula. Don’t worry if they break up, this will make them crunchier. Sprinkle with salt after 10 minutes. Start prepping the fish now

3.       Tartar sauce (we’re not making the mayo. Shop-bought mayo is just fine.)
a.        Put 3 tablespoons of mayo in a bowl
b.       Chop up 1 tablespoon of capers as finely as you can and put them in
c.        Add a squeeze of lemon. If you want it to taste homely and familiar, add a teaspoon of sugar
d.       Mix together

4.       Make Fish Action-Station!
a.        In three separate small bowls, plates or upturned lids, put
                                                          i.       3 tablespoons flour
                                                        ii.       1 beaten egg
                                                      iii.       4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
b.       Get out your frozen peas and put the appropriate amount in a separate saucepan

5.       Cook fish
Golden brown, textured like fish
a.        Put 4 tbsp oil in a frying pan on the hob on a medium-high heat until it shimmers like a woofter vampire
b.       In your saucepan, put boiling water on the peas and put them on medium-high heat
c.        Dip your fish in all three atrocities in order until you’re cursing yourself for not using larger lids and cursing the fish for causing you anger[1]
d.       Make peace with your god and lower the fish into the pan of near-boiling oil with a large spatula skin side down. Remember it will probably spit.  Put the plates you’re going to use to eat off in the oven now to heat up
e.        Turn the fish CAREFULLY after about 3 minutes, when the breadcrumbs are golden- take the peas off the heat now and drain
6.       Plate up
a.        Take a deep breath. You did well, and whoever eats this will surely wish to marry you
b.       Take out the chips, remembering that they are blindingly hot and evil-minded. Scoop out with a slotted spatula, into a bowl lined with kitchen towel. Chuckle victoriously at how you have foiled their diet-ruining ways as they leak vast quantities of oil, and try not to think about how much is still left in them
c.        Get your plates out of the oven and spatulate (!) some chips onto them. Now cut the massive breaded fillets in two and put half on each plate. Add peas and sauce, and a bit of salt and pepper
d.       Chow down

It is difficult for me to convey how large that plate, and thus this portion, is

[1] Why we have three atrocities here: Wet sticks to dry. Fish flesh is not as wet as you imagine, but will stick to something super dry like flour. Egg sticks to flour well, but don’t massage it too much or you’ll get a weird kind of fish pancake. Breadcrumbs stick to egg really well, but need a bit of pressing in. Never, ever, try to stick breadcrumbs to flesh alone. You will end up wallowing in self-hatred as they fall off in the pan and you end up with burned breadcrumbs and separate, unevenly cooked fish

Fish for this recipe is traditionally battered and deep fat fried.
Note that we breaded and panfried.
This version has two major benefits:
1) Deep fat friers take up a lot of space and cannot be used effectively while drinking
2) This version will not make your date complain that she feels fat


  1. Capers are disgusting. That is all.

  2. Capers are amazing. However, if someone really doesn't like capers, substituting pickle relish will work just fine for the tartar sauce.

  3. This was amazing! Though I made mash because I'm lazy and river cobbler because it was like £2... Thank you for the inspiration and easy recipe!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. This blog is amazing. I live in Los Angeles (USA) and have been looking for a good food truck or place that makes a decent fish and chips. Looks like I'm going to have to start making it myself. You don't have email on file? How do people get in contact with you to ask for features on their blog?

  6. This blog is amazing. I live in Los Angeles (USA) and have been looking for a good food truck or place that makes a decent fish and chips. Looks like I'm going to have to start making it myself. You don't have email on file? How do people get in contact with you to ask for for features on their blog?

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  9. Cool recipe! I'll definitely have to give it a try although I'm sure it won't end up looking anything like yours, haha! I recently wrote a blog post about facts on fish and chips in the UK if anyone's interested :) http://www.british-explorer.co.uk/blog/fish-and-chips-facts/

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