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Author Notes: Fried fish, originally gefilte fried fish balls brought into Britain by Jewish refugees, was paired with the fried potatoes either up north or down south (both Lancashire and East London claim the fame) mid-19th century. No longer wrapped in newspaper for takeaway these days, it probably gets the hipster treatment of craft beer batter and deconstructed potato chips in many places.
There are probably as many ‘best chippies in the UK’ as there are ‘oldest pubs in Britain’. There is the famous Magpie Café in Whitby, Hanbury’s in Torquay and the Aldeburgh Fish & Chip Shop. There’s also the Fish Bar outside the train station where I live and even I can’t do chips as good as they do. —Cuisine Fiend
For the fish:
- 1 pound cod or haddock fillet
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup plain flour
- 1/2 cup white rice flour, plus more for dusting the fish
- a pinch of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2/3 cup cold lager beer
- 1 1/2 quarts groundnut oil
For the chips:
- 2 pounds potatoes, Maris Piper or Russet
- 1 1/2 quarts groundnut oil
- Wash and peel the potatoes, cut them into chips about 1.5cm (¾ in.) thick.
- Soak them in a bowl of cold water for half an hour, rinse and pat dry with a tea towel. If you have the time, leave them out on paper towels for a while to dry completely.
- Skin and pin bone the fish fillet and cut it in two portions.
- Place the flours and the baking powder in a large bowl, add the honey and gradually stir in the lager.
- The batter might be a bit lumpy but if you let it chill for half an hour, the lumps will dissolve. Prepare extra rice flour on a shallow dish.
- In the meantime heat the groundnut oil in a chip pan or a deep-fat fryer to 130C/250F.
- Plunge in the chips and cook until they are slightly coloured, about 10 minutes. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and place on a cake rack with some paper towels underneath it. Let them cool completely.
- Heat the oil for the fish in another pan – or cook in one but then the chips will have to stand for a few minutes, putting them in a warm oven is a good idea. The second dip will take only a few minutes, until they colour and crisp to your liking, in oil at 190C/375F.
- Heat the oil for the fish to 220C/425F. When you’re ready to cook, season it with salt and pepper, dredge each portion in the rice flour and dip in the bowl with batter.
- When it’s covered completely, lower each portion into the oil. Don’t forget to drizzle in some batter on its own, for scraps – arguably the best bit of fish and chips.
- Cook the fish for 3 – 4 minutes until light golden brown, then turn over to the other side and cook for another minute or so.
- Lift the fish from the oil and drain briefly on a paper towel before serving with the chips and cooked garden peas.