Crispy, hot and wrapped up in paper. Nothing in the world touches the feeling you get as you unravel a steaming paper bundle of golden chips and amber fish doused in salt and vinegar.
Us Brits love our takeaways, and none is as close to our hearts as Great British fish and chips. But, for a nation that loves the classic combo so much, why don’t we bother making them at home?
Trying your hand at deep-frying may seem daunting, but with our simple, straight-forward tips, you can master your fish-frying techniques at home overnight.
Check out our top chippy tips too, from batter science to the perfectly crisp chip.
pICK THE RIGHT POTATO
Use floury potatoes, like Maris Pipers, for the chips. Waxy potatoes don’t produce the same finished product and result in chips that can feel overly greasy.
Soak your chips in water for at least 10 minutes, or par-boil them, before frying. This removes any starch from the outer potato, helping you get a crisper chip on the outside and a fluffy inside. Make sure to dry them off thoroughly before frying using a clean tea towel or kitchen paper.
dust in flour
If using fresh fish (as opposed to frozen), dust your fillets in flour before dipping into the batter. This removes excess moisture from the fish, helping you achieve an even coating all over with no bald spots.
beer batter is better
Use beer instead of regular tap water or milk in your batter to help make it crispier. The beer contains carbon dioxide which creates lots of satisfyingly crunchy bubbles in the batter when it hits the hot oil. Check out our perfectly crisp beer batter recipe here.
Sparkling water also works, but we prefer the deep, savoury flavour that the beer gives the crunchy coating.
keep the batter cold
The colder the batter, the puffier your crispy coating will be when it’s fried.
Try cooling the liquids as much as possible (we’re talking ice-cold) before coating your fish, then drop it into the oil as soon as possible once the fish is coated. The cold liquid stops the gluten from working overtime, helping it stay light and crisp rather than thick and heavy.
Don’t have a deep-fat fryer? Have no fear! A wide, high-lipped pan with just an inch of oil across the bottom is all you need.
While chips can easily be shallow-fried, fish needs to be sealed before it can be left alone to do its thing. Heat your oil to around 160C - 185C, then, carefully holding your battered fillet by one corner, swirl the fish around in the oil. Move every side of the fish into the oil until the batter has been sealed and appears less liquid. Once it’s all set, you can let go of the fillet and leave it to cook on each side for 2-3 minutes.
TOP TIP: to check the temperature of your oil without a thermometer, dip the handle of a wooden spoon. If the oil starts steadily bubbling, then the oil is hot enough for frying. If the oil bubbles intensely, then the oil is too hot and needs to cool down a bit. If the oil doesn't bubble, it’s not hot enough.
Want to cut out the frying completely? This recipe for oven-baked fish and chips with mushy peas is simple and makes a great midweek dinner - and it's also gluten-free! Whipped egg keeps the fish coating light and airy without the need for any frying.
Fry and fry again
Another stellar technique is the double fry. Fry your chips for 2-3 minutes, remove from the oil, drain on kitchen paper and let cool to room temperature, then fry again.
When they come out the first time, they’ll be pale and floppy. Don’t worry —this is what you’re looking for! This apparent 'sog' is the water from the chip's centre making its way to the surface. After the water evaporates during the cooling period and after a second fry, you'll be left with a perfectly soft middle, crisp outside with an utterly irresistible crunch.
Have our fish and chip tips got you craving some of that salt and vinegary goodness? Make sure to stock up on everything you need, including our cook-from-frozen cod fillets, at Asda.com or pop into your local store.