Proudly satisfying British food with two simple ingredients.
Fish - Preferably Cod (but they are getting in dangerously short supply), Haddock, Plaice or one of a smattering of less desirable varieties - deep fried in batter.
Chips preferably made from real King Edward's Potatoes and not from some reconstitued gunk.

Though quite greasy it is filling and provides a good balance of fat, carbohydrate and protein. It is of course immensely tasty.

This dish marches ahead of the pack of other, lesser known, English culinary feasts such as Curry, Yorkshire Pudding, Apple Crumble, Custard, Christmas pudding and Spotted Dick.

'French fries' is not exactly translated into 'chips'. The Brits use both words. In Britain french fries are like what you get from McDonalds. Chips are fatter than french fries giving a better chip/grease ratio but to offset this healthyness they are much greasier than french fries (English cuisine is not allowed to be healthy - I think it is law). Chip shop chips have a totally unmistakable taste and smell (a smell that can waft for miles) that have to be experienced. Lovely jubbly!

Fish’n’Chips is traditional English fast-food.

The fish is usually cod, but in a more up-market ‘chippie’ can be anything from Plaice to Salmon. It is coated with a thick floury batter that often contains beer for additional flavour.

The chips are coarsely cut rectangles of potato – much fatter than a french-fry. They are normally deep-fried twice. The first time they are cooked through, and then left to drain and cool. The second fry is done quicker and at a higher temperature. This creates a crispy outer texture, but seals the moisture within.

The food is traditionally fried in a large steel vat containing boiling-hot beef dripping. Recently many chip-shops have changed this for a vegetable based oil. This is supposedly to make the product healthier, but it could also be to make the chips more appealing to vegetarians. Most Fish and Chip shops sell other foods including but not limited to: Sausages, Battered Sausages, Pukka Pies, Kebabs, Cans of Fizzy drinks and the infamous Battered Deep-Fried Mars-Bar.

FISH AND CHIPS, LOW FAT (2 servings, about 30-40 minutes elapsed)

Ingredients

    2 white fish fillets (cod, snapper, halibut, etc., 3/4" to 1” thick, about 12 oz.)
    1 lemon (or some bottled lemon juice)
    1 egg
    1/2 cup flour
    1 tsp. dill weed, 1/2 tsp. salt, a few tablespoons olive oil
    2 or 3 oz. cold beer
    Potato fries, around 10 oz., thick cut, either hand cut or frozen packaged, seasoning for fries.

Preparation

Set aside 1/4 cup of the flour in a sifter or sieve. Put the remaining 1/4 cup flour in a mixing bowl and add the egg, 1/2 tsp. dill weed, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, and 2 or 3 oz. very cold beer. Stir until batter is mixed and not too lumpy (a few small lumps are just right). Cover and refrigerate, or even place in freezer if you plan to use it soon.

Cut the potato fries now if you’re not using the frozen variety. Prep for any vegetable dish now. Sprinkle the potato with seasoning (salt, pepper or Mrs. Dash). Put the fries in the oven, on parchment paper sheet or foil. 325-350F for around 20 minutes. Get any veggies moving. Onions, brocolli or peas could work well with the fish and potatoes.

Sprinkle 1/8 cup flour on a cutting board. Rinse the fish, pat with paper towel to dry somewhat, then sprinkle a little flour (1/8 cup or less) on the fish, then dredge fish through the cold batter mix. Place battered fish on the floured cutting board and sprinkle a little flour on top. Set fish aside a couple minutes or so and check the rest of the meal before cooking the fish. Around 15 minutes before you’re ready to eat this, check the potato fries, turn, remove when done. If you like Dill a lot, then sprinkle a little more on the fish now. If the fries and veg. weren’t done earlier they probably should be close by now. Check that before starting the fish, which should cook in less than 10 min.

Get a frying pan large enough for the fillets, pour olive oil in the pan to a depth of around 1/8 inch and bring to a medium high heat. When the oil is very hot (but not smoking) place the fish in the pan for 2 or 3 minutes. Jiggle the pan a bit at the start to reduce sticking. Watch so you get the fish brown but not burnt on side 1 (might possibly need to turn heat down a notch), then carefully turn fish over, jiggle again, and after another couple minutes turn the heat down to medium low or low. Depending on thickness, the fish should be done in around 6 to 10 minutes total cooking time. If not sure just flake one of the fillets a little to see.

If you don't have any beer handy, or as an alternate, it's possible to use soda water or simply add a teaspoon of baking soda to the batter.

I never fail to smile when I think of fish and chips being described as one of Great Britain's national dishes. It seems beautifully appropriate that a nation with a heritage as rich, varied, and far-reaching as Britain's should adopt food introduced by immigrants as one of its culinary identifiers.

Oh yes, fish and chips, that quintessentially British dish, is immigrant food.

The story starts in 1492, on the Iberian Peninsular, when Ferdinand and Isabella expel the Jewish population from their kingdoms. The exiles might not be able to take much with them in the form of property or wealth, but as with any migrant people, they do carry with them their traditions, one of which is fried fish.

Sephardi Jewry and their fish-frying ways don't immediately reach English shores, however. England is openly hostile towards migrants throughout the sixteenth century, and instead those who fled from Spain and Portugal, along with their descendants, make for the Netherlands, North Africa, Italy, and Turkey. It's not until the mid-seventeenth century, when Cromwell decides that admitting Jewish traders might be good for the economy, that fried fish lands in London.

Have a peek in Oliver Twist and Judith Cohen Montefiore's 1846 The Jewish Manual, and you will find references to and recipes for fried fish. Dickens mentions a fried fish warehouse in London's East End, where fish would have been served with bread or baked potatoes, and Cohen Montefiore's recipe is basically the same as how my grandmother fries her fish now: coated in egg and then dredged with either flour or monster meal and dropped into hot oil.

The origins of chips are slightly more obscure. Some think that the chip's origin is French, whilst others state it to be Belgian, and invented as a substitute for fish when the rivers had frozen over in the winter.

Wikipedia would have it that the first chipped, fried potatoes sold in the UK were served in Oldham in 1860. However, I can't find any evidence to support that statement, so make of it what you will.

But the next question, of course, is who thought to marry chips with fish and douse them in salt and vinegar?

If you're a northern soul, you might support that it was one John Lees, of Lancashire, who first sold fish and chips in 1863. For those south of the Watford Gap, Joseph Malin and his East End fish and chip shop dating to around 1860 might be the preferred option. Whoever it was, and wherever they were, they'd cottoned on to a bright idea. By 1910 there were approximately 25,000 fish and chip shops in the UK. During both World Wars, the governments went to extraordinary measures to ensure that fish and chips remained the only unrationed takeaway food. It was seen as morale-boosting and vital to the nation.

We don't eat nearly so much fish and chips now as we did back in the early twentieth century. There are roughly 10,000 fish and chip shops in the UK and it is fifth on the list of favourite takeaways. But at 229 million portions a year — mostly cod, but haddock and plaice, too — that's still quite a bit.

I don't eat fish and chips so much, but when I do, I drown it in vinegar and always have mushy peas. Mostly, I tend to fry fish myself, on a Friday night, much the same as my grandfather told me that his mother did in her huge cast iron pan on the range of her East End kitchen to eat over Shabbat. You carry your traditions with you.




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