On my 30th birthday, I treated myself to a steamer and a deep fat fryer, two diametrically opposite cooking utensils. Both of them are still working. I should use the steamer more, but it makes light work of the vegetables when guests come. The deep fat fryer has been in the loft for a couple of years. Recently, I got the thing out of the loft with a view to having a go at fish and chips.
This is not the first time I’ve made homemade fish and chips, but it was such a long time ago I’ve forgotten what I did. I followed the guidance on BBC Good Food for the fish and totally ignored it for the chips. The chips need work. They went soggy very quickly, so I will return to these next time.
The overall method is to heat the fryer to 170° C, pre-fry the chips to soften them then set them aside. Then turn the fryer up to 190° C and cook the fish. Once this is cooked, it can sit in a warm oven to rest and whilst this is happening you can give the chips a second higher temperature cook to obtain crispness.
The batter in the Good Food recipe did the job very well. Mix 50g plain flour, 50g cornflour, 1 tsp baking powder and a touch of turmeric in a bowl. Then gradually add a mix of 75ml lager and 75ml sparkling water until you get a thick smooth batter. Also, take care to drink the rest of the lager whilst you work.
I made the batter first and let it rest for 30 minutes. Then I cut up the chips and soaked them in salt water. If I was doing this again, I would soak them for longer. I drained and dried them and put them in for the first fry for eight minutes – probably too long. After frying, I drained them of oil on paper towel.
Then to the fish. After the fryer had heated up to 190° C, I covered the cod fillets in flour, then covered them in the batter. Then I carefully lowered them into the fryer, dropping them in away from me. If you hold the fish in the fryer for the first half a minute it stops the batter sticking to the fryer and apparently can help build an air pocket in the fried fish. About six minutes later the fish was cooked. It does depend on the size. I put the pieces in a warm oven on a raised grill.
Then it was back to the chips. I refried them for about six minutes. They looked done and seemed crisp enough, but actually, they weren’t. I used baking potatoes. I need to use the correct potato for the job in future. That said, they still tasted good and made a meal together with the fish and some peas.
You can see that the fish turned out flaky and white. It tasted good too. The batter was crisp as it should be.
I’m going to investigate different methods for the chips in future. Firstly, soaking them to remove the excess starch needs to be done. Selecting the right variety of potato seems to be key. Also, there are ways of blanching them in sugar and salt before the first fry which can apparently improve them.
I’ve left the fryer full of oil and will use it again. It does need rather a lot of oil to work and, for future, perhaps an air fryer would be a better option.