Nothing says British summer like a serving of traditional fish and chips finished with mushy peas and a wedge of fresh lemon. It’s a wholesome, hearty meal that has become a true British staple, but it’s one that so many of us only trust the local takeaway to get right.
Making the perfect battered fish at home takes a little practise, but the results are well worth it. Do it right and it becomes a sure fire way to get the whole family around the dinner table on a Friday night.
Choosing the right fish is half the battle and ensuring that each fillet is smooth and scale-free before buying will save you a lot of time in the long run. Opt for smaller fillets if you’re after a really crispy batter – cod and haddock work well and are sure to help you replicate that classic chip shop flavour. You could also try skate, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous.
It’s always best to do a final check for pin bones at this stage, as well as to pat the fillet dry with some kitchen paper to remove any excess moisture. Your fishmonger should be able to help with trimming off any excess and ensuring that the fish is ready to cook.
Making the batter
You will need:
• 150g plain flour
• 50g cornflour
• 150ml pale ale
• 150ml Budweiser lager
• Salt and pepper to season
Once you’ve chosen your fish, the next step is to prepare the batter. This part is surprisingly easy and simply requires you to whisk the dry and wet ingredients together before lightly seasoning to taste. The batter should be smooth in texture and thick enough to fully cover the fish.
Dust each fish fillet with flour and coat in the batter before lowering into a deep fat fryer that has been pre-heated to 140°C. Cooking times will vary depending on the size and thickness of the fillets, but usually around 5 minutes does the trick. The batter should be golden brown and the fish will float to the top of the fryer once ready.
All that’s left is to remove the fish and drain off any excess oil. I tend to do this by laying the fillets on a sheet of kitchen paper while I plate up the rest of the meal.
While the fish itself can take a little bit of work, it’s good to know that there are cheats available for the rest of the dish. Frozen chips can be popped in the oven before you start preparing the batter and should be ready to serve at around the same time as the fish. McCain chips are perfect for this and taste just as good as fried.
For the mushy peas, you can either buy them readymade or boil your regular garden peas and mash together with a small nob of butter. Add salt and pepper to taste, as well as a fresh sprig of mint for a more traditional spin on this hearty classic.
Finish with a wedge of lemon and voila – traditional fish and chips from the comfort of your own kitchen.