It seems I’ve been feeling nostalgic for the UK recently, specifically UK foods. One of my friends on facebook was going on about chip butties which got me thinking about chip shops and fish and chips. Its been a while since I’ve had some proper chips! I suppose I could have found the equivalent of a chip shop here in Trondheim, but eating out costs a friggin shitton, so we must attempt to make a chip shop version here at home.
The first thing you must know about proper chips is that they MUST be double fried to be good. It doesnt matter if you use homemade chips or frozen ones from the store- they MUST be double fried. MUST. Perhaps I should make that in bold and underlined so its super clear. MUST. If you want perfect chips that are beautiful, hot, crispy and tasty then you just cant compromise on this. Trust me.
If you want to attempt homemade chips, the best potato to use is, hands down, the Russet. Its just your average large potato you would use for baking. Russets have a lower moisture content which will create a much crispier exterior and fluffier, soft interior. Peel your potatoes and cut them into whatever size you like, though its probably better to cut them a bit bigger than what you would expect from say, an American style french fry, as American french fries actually have much less surface area than proper chips, so they absorb more fat than chips do.
I couldnt find Russet potatoes at the grocery store today, so I purchased just your average crinkle cut potatoes found in the freezer section.
If you have a deep frier go ahead and use that to do your first cooking of your chips. If you’re like me and dont have a deep frier, just use a deep soup or stock pot- just make sure its not teflon coated or anything. Fill the pot up with between 3-6 inches of peanut oil (my pot was wide, so my oil only filled it up about 3 inches)- you’re probably going to have to experiment with the oil temperature if you dont have a thermometor. Basically, heat your oil on a medium setting to begin with. Its probably going to take about 20 minutes for it to heat enough to cook with. Then, throw in a “test chip” to see if it hot enough, too low or too high. You should be looking for some small bubbles and a very faint sizzle- you dont want it bubbling a lot or really hissing when you throw the crisps in to begin with. The first fry is really just a “blanching” of the chips- you want them cooked through but not at all crispy. Cook all your chips in batches, put them on a tray to cool to about room temperature.
When your chips have finished cooling, you want to crank up the heat on the oil a bit- the objective now is to quickly heat the chips through and give them that wonderful crispy, golden exterior. This time, when the chips go in, the oil should bubble up quite a bit and hiss. Throw in a few test chips this time as well… leaving the chips to cook about 5-8 minutes or until a lovely golden color starts forming along the edges. Remove them from the oil and drain them on paper towels. Sprinkle them liberally with salt and enjoy. I like them doused in a good amount of malt vinegar and dipped in ketchup. You could make up all sorts of gourmet sauces to go with them if you like, but for todays purposes, I just wanted salt and vinegar. Oh, and ketchup.
Now, for the fish part of fish and chips. First, lets talk fish. Firstly, I think Cod or Haddock are the only appropriate fish for fish and chips. However, if you prefer another white fish that has a meaty, solid texture, by all means, use it. I just prefer to use the more traditional fish for this. I bought cod which I cut into large strips. For this fish and chips experiment I created a beer batter coating to fry the cod in. Basically it goes like this: about 1 bottle of beer (I used the local lager but you can use any beer you’d like. I find that of course, the darker the beer, the better the flavor. ), mixed with a heaping cup of flour, a couple teaspoons of baking powder, 2 teaspoons each of salt and pepper, a dash of paprika and a dash of garlic powder. Leave it sit in the fridge for anywhere between 15 minutes and an hour, just not less than 15. Take your cod pieces and dust them in plain flour first, then dip them in the beer batter and fry in oil of a temperature just a smidge lower than you fried the chips in the second time. Fry until nice and golden brown, drain on paper towel before serving.
When I made the fish and chips pictured above, I cooked my chips the first time, made the batter while they were cooling, then cooked the fish, then cooked the chips the second time.
Both the chips and the fish turned out absolutely wonderful, this will definately be something I’ll have to make again- but being that its pretty high up there on the calorie meter, not any time soon.
If you make yourself some fish and chips like mine, let me know how they turn out!