History, Recipe, and pictures of Fish and Chips
It is a fact that most brits love their Fish and Chips, and although now up against fearce competition from foreign food outlets such as Chinese, Indian, Italian, and American Burger chains such as MacDonalds, the humble Fish and Chip shop still holds its own and remains the nations favourite meal, with 300 million portions sold every year. On a Friday, 20% of all takeaways are from a Fish and Chip shop.
Photo by Peggy Cannell
'Fish & chips' is one of Englands heritage dishes, dating back to the early 1860's when the first fish and chip shop ('chippy') opened its doors to the public. Some claim that it was John Lees who first married the two together in 1863, selling Fish & Chips from a wooden hut in Oldham, Lancashire. Others claim that it was a jewish immigrant named Joseph Malin who opened the first Chippy in London's East End during 1860.
North or South, whoever it was that first introduced Fish and Chips, most experts agree that the first Fish and Chip shop appeared in England, quickly followed by many more throughout the rest of Britain, and by 1929 it is estimated that there were over 35,000 outlets selling Fish and Chips as it quickly became one of the nations favourite foods.
It has even been suggested that Fish and Chips helped win World War I, and by World War II government ministers made sure that Fish and Chips were one of the few foods not to be rationed, such was their importance!
Traditionally, Fish and Chips were always sold wrapped in newspaper to keep costs down, however during the 1980's it was ruled unsafe for food to come into contact with the ink without grease-proof paper inbetween and sadly it is now very rare to find a Fish and Chip shop that still serves Fish and Chips in this traditional way. They are now usually sold wrapped in plain paper or in simple polystyrene trays, though some outlets do serve them in fake printed paper to give them an authentic look.
The most famous Fish and Chip shop of all began in 1938 when from a small striped hut next to a Tram stop in Guiseley, West Yorkshire, Harry Ramsden began selling Fish and Chips. His reputation for serving the best Fish and Chips soon spread and within 3 years Harry opened up his first sit-down Fish and Chip 'Palace' which was partly modelled on The Ritz Hotel, London. In 1952, the restaurant served a world record 10,000 portions in a single day!
Fish and Chips Recipe
We don't have Harry's secret batter recipe, but we do have one that will give you a great authentic tasting Fish and Chips!
The favourite fish to use is Cod, which accounts for around 60% of the UK's consumption, followed by Haddock at 25%. If using Cod, please make sure it is from a sustainable source.
Use a floury potato such as Maris Piper or King Edward.
To cook the Fish and Chips the traditional way use Beef dripping/oil for both the Fish and the Chips. However, using vegetable oil or sunflower oil works perfectly fine too.
Mushy Peas make the perfect accompaniment for the Fish and Chips, along with a sprinkle of salt, a splash of vinegar, and a dollop of Tomato sauce.
Use fresh fish if possible. Use fillets taken from the head end of the fish rather than the tail end.
Only dip the fish in the batter at the last moment before putting it in the hot oil. This helps give it a nice light crispy batter.
Serve them wrapped in newspaper for an authentic British feel.
4x175g/6oz of white fish fillets, preferrably cod or haddock.
225g/8oz self-raising flour, plus some extra for dusting.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
300ml/10 fl oz of cold lager.
8 large floury potatoes such as Maris Piper or King Edward.
1. Preheat oven to 150C/300F/Gas mark 2 and preheat the oil to 120C/250F
2. Peel the potatoes and cut to 1cm thick chips.
Wash the chips in cold water, drain well and dry with a tea towel. Put them in the fryer and fry gently for about 8 or 10 minutes until soft but still pale. Check the chips are cooked and leave to cool on some grease proof paper.
3. Increase the heat of the fryer to 180C/350F.
4. Season the fish and dust lightly with flour, shaking off any excesswhich will enable the batter to stick to the fish better.
5. To make the beer batter, sift the flour into a large bowel and add a pinch of salt. Whisk in some lager to give a thick batter, adding more until its the consistency of very thick double cream which should coat the back of a wooden spoon.
6. Dip 2 of the fillets into the batter and then extremely carefully lower them into the hot oil, cooking for 8 - 10 minutes until golden brown and crispy. You can turn them occassionaly with a large slotted spoon.
Remove the fish from the oil, drain, and then sit them on a baking tray lined with grease proof paper, keeping them warm in the oven whilst you cook the other 2 fillets in exactly the same way.
7. When all the fish is cooked, put the chips back into the oil, cooking for a further 2 - 3 minutes until golden brown.
How to serve - The authentic way!
Many people believe that the ONLY way to appreciate true authentic British Fish and Chips is to wrap them in newspaper and eat them outside! If you do serve them this way please make sure that you FIRST wrap them in grease-proof paper before wrapping them in the newspaper. Apart from helping keep the majority of food off the ink, this method helps keeps the meal insulated and hotter for longer. It also helps stop any oil from soaking through the paper onto your lap or hands.