We already know that fish and chips is part of the staple diet for many people around the world. It is even given its own special day in certain countries. For example, in the United Kingdom, Friday is the day most associated with this tastiest of dishes.
Fish is usually deep-fried after it is coated in batter, although an increasing number of people love to eat bread-crumbed or grilled fish. In this post we will take a closer look at some recommendations for creating the best ever battered fish.
Cod or Haddock?
Without question the most popular fish to use is either cod or haddock; however, many restaurants also serve other white fish. It is not uncommon to find plaice, pollock, coley or sometimes skate on the menu, depending on where you visit. Ultimately it is an individual choice which fish to go for. That said, many “amateur” fish and chip lovers are unable to taste the difference between haddock and cod. As you might expect, whichever fish is used it is a much better experience if it is cooked fresh to-order.
Assuming that you are going to go traditional and deep-fry your fish, you will want to make sure of a certain oil. It seems little point in finding a great piece of fresh fish, only to smother the taste in the wrong oil! Ideally you need to use an oil that has a high “smoke point”. This refers to the temperature that an oil will start to break down and smoke. Generally speaking the more refined and oil then the higher it’s smoke point will be.
Most chef’s will cook with one of the following:
- Peanut oil
- Canola oil
- Sesame oil
- Corn oil
- Grapeseed oil
Another added bonus for refined oils is that they tend to have a more neutral taste and a clearer appearance, making them perfect for cooking fish and chips.
This is where many people have their own strong views. The batter is quite possibly the most likely element to go wrong with. The aim here is to compliment the fish and not make the batter a meal in its own right. You will be wanting to make the batter as light and crispy as possible. Failing here and your dish will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
Differences of opinion have raged for many a long year over the liquid to use. Some chefs prefer cold water, while others favour beer or some form of carbonated water. A good amount of salt and pepper is essential to bringing out the best flavour in your batter. Self-rising flour and carbonate of soda are other important elements to the perfect batter.
Most people agree that the perfect battered fish in something of an artform. Once you have decided on the fish, oil and batter, you will want to get cooking. Heating the oil to 185 degrees is a must. Too hot and you will risk burning the batter before the fish is cooked through. Too cool and you are likely to end up with a soggy dish on your hands.
Depending on the size of your fish you will want to cook it between 4 and 6 minutes, watch it carefully as you certainly don’t want to overcook it. All that is left to do is to drain it on kitchen paper and then serve immediately.