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Fish and Chip: How to Make the Perfect Crispy Fish and Chips

If you're looking for a classic British dish that's both comforting and delicious, look no further than fish and chips. This dish has been a staple in the UK since the mid-19th century and remains a favourite to this day. While it's often enjoyed at fish and chip shops, it's also easy to make at home with the right recipe.

A golden-brown fish fillet sizzling in bubbling oil next to a mound of crispy, golden fries on a checkered paper-lined tray

Joseph Malin is credited with opening the first fish and chip shop in London in 1860, and the dish quickly became popular throughout the UK. Traditionally, the fish used for fish and chips is cod or haddock, but you can use other types of white fish as well. The fish is coated in a batter made from flour, baking powder, salt, and beer, then deep-fried until crispy and golden brown. The chips, or French fries, are also deep-fried until crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

Preparing the Perfect Batter

A bowl of flour, eggs, and beer mixed together. A fresh fillet of fish being dipped into the batter

If you want to make perfect fish and chips, then you need to start with the perfect batter. Here are some tips to help you achieve that goal.

Choosing the Right Ingredients

The first step in making the perfect batter is to choose the right ingredients. You will need flour, salt, beer, baking powder, and cornstarch. All-purpose flour is the best choice for this recipe because it has the right amount of gluten to give the batter its structure. Cornstarch is added to make the batter crispy.

When it comes to beer, choose a light beer with a low alcohol content. The carbonation in the beer helps to make the batter light and fluffy. If you don't like beer, you can use club soda or sparkling water instead. Milk and soda water can also be used to make the batter.

Mixing Techniques

Mixing the batter is the next step. You don't want to overmix the batter, or it will become tough. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl, then slowly add the beer or other liquid. Whisk the batter until it is smooth and free of lumps.

Batter Consistency

The consistency of the batter is also important. It should be thick enough to coat the fish, but not so thick that it becomes gloopy. If the batter is too thick, add a little more beer or other liquid. If it is too thin, add a little more flour.

Once you have made the batter, let it rest for about 10 minutes. This will allow the gluten to relax and the batter to thicken slightly. Then dip your fish into the batter and fry until golden brown.

Cooking Fish and Chips

Fish and potatoes frying in bubbling oil, steam rising, a sprinkle of salt and vinegar, a side of tartar sauce

If you're looking to make the perfect fish and chips at home, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. In this section, we'll cover everything you need to know about cooking fish and chips, including selecting the best fish, perfecting the chip, and deep frying mastery.

Selecting the Best Fish

When it comes to fish and chips, there are a few different types of fish that work well. White fish fillets such as cod, haddock, hake, and pollock are all great options. Make sure to choose fresh fish, as this will give you the best flavour and texture.

Perfecting the Chip

The perfect chip should be crispy and golden on the outside, and soft and fluffy on the inside. To achieve this, you'll need to select the right type of potato. Floury potatoes such as King Edward, Maris Piper, Sante, and Yukon Gold are all great choices.

To make your chips crispy, you'll need to fry them twice. First, fry them at a lower temperature to cook them through, then fry them at a higher temperature to crisp them up. Make sure not to overcrowd the fryer, as this can cause the chips to become soggy.

Deep Frying Mastery

When it comes to deep frying, there are a few pro tips you should keep in mind. First, make sure to preheat your oil to the correct temperature. The ideal temperature for frying fish is around 180°C. Use a thermometer to ensure that your oil is at the right temperature.

When frying your fish, make sure to use a wet batter to achieve that restaurant-quality crispy coating. A mixture of flour, cornflour, paprika, sea salt, and seltzer water makes for a great batter. Use a slotted spoon to remove the fish from the oil, and place it on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain.

Finally, if you want to take your fish and chips to the next level, try frying them in beef tallow instead of oil. This will give your fish and chips a richer, more authentic flavour.

Frequently Asked Questions

A plate of golden-brown fish and chips with a side of tartar sauce, placed on a checkered tablecloth with a lemon wedge and a sprinkle of parsley

What's the best type of fish to use for a classic fish and chips?

The best type of fish to use for fish and chips is cod or haddock. These types of fish have a mild flavour and a firm texture that holds up well when fried. You can also use other types of white fish such as pollock or plaice, but cod and haddock are the most commonly used.

How can you get your fish and chips to stay crispy?

To keep your fish and chips crispy, it's important to use a batter that is not too thick and to fry them at the right temperature. The oil should be heated to around 180°C/350°F. If the oil is not hot enough, the batter will absorb too much oil and become soggy. Make sure to drain the excess oil from the fish and chips after frying by placing them on a paper towel.

What oil should you use for authentic British fish and chips?

Traditionally, fish and chips are fried in beef dripping, but this can be difficult to find. Vegetable oil or sunflower oil are good alternatives. It's important to use a neutral-flavoured oil that can withstand high temperatures.

Is there a way to make fish and chips without using a deep fryer?

Yes, you can make fish and chips in the oven. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F. Coat the fish in batter and place it on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. For the chips, cut potatoes into thick wedges and toss them with oil and salt. Place them on a separate baking tray and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until crispy.

What's a simple batter recipe for crispy fish and chips?

To make a simple batter, mix together 150g of plain flour, 1 tsp of baking powder, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Gradually whisk in 150ml of cold beer until you have a smooth batter. Let the batter rest for 30 minutes before using.

Can you make fish and chips in an air fryer, and if so, how?

Yes, you can make fish and chips in an air fryer. Preheat the air fryer to 200°C/400°F. Coat the fish in batter and place it in the air fryer basket. Spray the fish with cooking spray. Cook for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. For the chips, cut potatoes into thick wedges and toss them with oil and salt. Place them in the air fryer basket and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until crispy.