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Fish & Chips: A Classic Dish Reimagined

fish and chips

There’s nothing more British than fish and chips. 

This iconic dish, once referred to as “the good companions” by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, is a British super classic that now everybody enjoys around the world.

Today, not only will you find the best recipe for traditional fish and chips but you’ll also discover how simple tweaks in ingredients and a touch of creativity can reinvent this culinary favorite (Spoiler alert: can you imagine vegan fish and chips?) 

Fish and Chips History

During the 17th century, the Jewish community in England was among the first to sell fried fish, while it’s believed that fried potato chips were created in France in the same era. However, the exact origin of the fish and chips combination is unclear.

What’s certain is that the first fish and chip shops were opened in the 1860s. One of them was opened in London by Joseph Malin. The other, in Mossley, near Oldham, by John Lees.

fish and chips

Wrapped in old newspapers, fish and chips emerged as a working-class meal, offering an affordable luxury accessible to all, eventually solidifying its place as an iconic element of British cuisine.

The Traditional Fish & Chips Recipe

Here, we’ll share a classic recipe for beer battered fish and chips. If you’re looking for a recipe for fish and chips without beer, simply replace the beer with sparkling water.

We’ll also add the best tartar sauce recipe for fish and chips to enhance the flavors.

Ingredients

Fish:

  • 4 fillets of fresh cod, haddock, or other lean white fish fillets (about 6 ounces each), cut into 4 pieces and patted dry
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Flour for dredging

Chips:

  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chips 
  • Vegetable oil, for frying 

Batter:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1 cup cold beer or water 
  • Salt to taste

Tartare Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped gherkins or pickles
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped 
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped 

Cooking Methods

Chips:

  1. Rinse the cut potatoes under cold water for 5 minutes to remove excess starch and pat dry.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large, deep pan to 325°F.
  3. Fry the potato chips in batches for about 5 minutes until they’re soft but not browned. Remove and set aside and drain.
  4. Then, increase the heat of the oil to 375°F and add the chips again in batches until golden and crispy. Drain excess oil on paper towels, season with salt, and keep warm.

Tartare Sauce:

  1. In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, chopped gherkins (or pickles), capers, parsley, and lemon juice.
  2. Mix well and season with salt and pepper. 

Fish and Batter:

  1. Pat the fish fillets dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. 
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Pour over the beer or water and whisk until smooth (but don’t overbeat.) 
  3. Dredge the fillets in flour to help the batter adhere, shaking off any excess (ensure the fish is dry before dredging.)
  4. Then, dip each fillet into the batter to coat all sides, allowing any excess to drip off.
  5. Carefully place the coated fish into hot oil (around 375°F) and fry for about 3 minutes on each side until golden and cooked through (the frying time can vary depending on the thickness of the fillets, but make sure the fish reaches an internal temperature of at least 145°F for safe consumption.)
  6. Then, remove and drain on paper towels for a minute.
  7. Serve immediately with the chips, tartare sauce for dipping, salt, and vinegar.

The Reimagination Process

The reimagination process of the fish and chips recipe allows for creative exploration, expanding its horizons.

You can redefine the ingredients as you want. For example, infusing the batter with herbs, spices, or even a hint of citrus can impart an entirely different flavor profile.

And if you’re looking for a healthy fish and chips recipe, try using sweet potatoes or parsnip chips. They are considered healthier alternatives to classic potatoes when used to make chips as they can add a nutritious twist while retaining the satisfying crunch. You can also try healthier alternative cooking methods like baking or air frying, which will offer a lighter take on this classic. 

Here, we’d like to share with you a great alternative to the traditional recipe: the vegan version. It involves substituting traditional animal-based ingredients with plant-based alternatives, i.e., using tofu instead of fish: 

Vegan Fish and Chips Recipe

Vegan “Fish”

Ingredients:

  • 4 pieces of firm tofu 
  • Nori seaweed sheets (optional) 
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Flour for dredging

Preparation: 

For tofu “fish,” slice the tofu into large, rectangular pieces and season with salt and pepper. 

Then, wrap each piece in a small section of nori seaweed and dredge in flour, shaking off any excess.

Instead of tofu, you can also try a mushroom-based alternative, by using large king oyster mushrooms and cutting them into fillet-like shapes.

Vegan Chips

Ingredients:

  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chips 
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Preparation:

Follow the same steps as in the classic recipe for preparing the potato chips. 

Vegan Batter

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup cold sparkling water or a beer substitute 
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

Mix the flour and baking powder in a bowl and add the sparkling water or a beer substitute (to avoid the potential presence of non-vegan fining agents or additional ingredients in beer.) 

Whisk until it forms a smooth batter, but make sure not to overmix.

Vegan Tartare Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise (made from plant-based oils)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped gherkins or pickles
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped

Preparation:

Combine all the tartare sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. 

Cooking Instructions

Follow the same cooking instructions as in the classic recipe, substituting the ingredients according to the vegan alternatives. 

Take into account that the cooking time for the vegan “fish” may be shorter than that for traditional fish. So, monitor the frying process to achieve the desired golden and crispy texture.

Serving Suggestions

Fish and chips is such a versatile dish that you can pair it with a great variety of accompaniments. Our suggestions are:

Mushy Peas 

If you want to experience pure tradition, you have to enjoy fish and chips with mushy peas.

Mushy peas are made with split peas boiled until they are soft, then mashed to create a creamy texture, and seasoned with salt, pepper, and a pinch of mint.

Beer-battered Onion Rings 

A delicious side dish made with onions sliced into rings, coated in a crispy beer batter, and golden fried. 

It’s a great way to take advantage of the fish’s beer batter leftovers.

Coleslaw 

A classic and refreshing accompaniment to fish and chips made with shredded cabbage, carrots, and onion that is tossed in a creamy dressing. 

Its crunchy texture and a tangy flavor that pairs well with the savory fish and chips, balancing the richness of the dish.

Beverage Pairings

Beer is the traditional choice, as it perfectly complements the savory elements of the dish. 

However, you can also opt for some wine varieties like a crisp Chardonnay or a light Pinot Noir, which offer a sophisticated alternative.

For a non-alcoholic pairing, citrus-infused sparkling water or crafted sodas are excellent options to cleanse the palate between bites.

Time to Make it a Right Corker

Fish and chips are undoubtedly a versatile dish and stand as a British icon.

While the classic recipe is simply delicious, we’ve seen how its incredible versatility allows us for modifications and adaptations to suit our preferences — even transforming it into a completely vegan dish! 

Now it’s time to give it a bash and make it your cup of tea.

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