What can I say… a British classic, a golden-battered, "Rule, Britannia!"-warbling stalwart that is as iconically British as roast beef, plum pudding, and a surfeit of beer. It has always been on the Fortnum’s menu, and is an eternal best-seller. Here, it’s breadcrumbed, with Japanese panko, rather than battered, which gives a really crisp coating to the fish. Light, too.
The chips, fat and proud, should be double-cooked, for a crisp exterior and soft centre. Always make sure you use fresh, clean oil. You can prepare everything in advance up to the last frying.
Oh, and the dish is not John Bull British in origin, as you might have believed, rather a happy marriage of Jewish (Ashkenazi immigrants would sell cold fried fish on the streets of London) and French (who invented the chip as we know it). But worry not, flag-wavers… it was the British who put the two together. And the Brits who still worship at its burnished, lightly vinegared feet. — Tom Parker Bowles, author of Fortnum & Mason: The Cookbook
Be sure to serve your fish and chips with homemade minted peas. For the recipe, click here.
- 2 Pounds floury potatoes, preferably Maris Piper
- Vegetable oil, for deep frying
- 4 Teaspoons plain flour
- Finely grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 Cup breadcrumbs, preferably Japanese panko crumbs
- Four 6-ounce pieces of haddock fillet, skinned and pin-boned
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the tartar sauce:
- 1/2 Cup good-quality mayonnaise
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 2 Tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 4 Teaspoons cornichons, finely chopped
- 4 Teaspoons capers
Peel the potatoes and cut them into chips 1/2 inch thick. Place in a steamer in a single layer. (You’ll probably have to cook them in batches — alternatively you can parboil them.) Steam for 8 minutes; they should just be beginning to soften.
Drain well and leave to cool.
Heat the vegetable oil to 230 degrees F in a deep fat fryer or a large, deep saucepan. (If using a saucepan, don’t fill it more than a third full.)
Fry the chips in batches for 6-8 minutes, until they are soft but not colored.
Drain well on kitchen paper and set aside. (They can be prepared up to this stage several hours in advance.)
Next prepare the fish.
Put the flour into a shallow dish and mix it with the lemon zest and some salt and pepper.
Put the beaten eggs into another dish and the breadcrumbs into a third.
Pat the fish dry and coat each piece first with the flour, then with the egg, and finally with the breadcrumbs, patting them on to give them an even coating.
Heat the oil again — this time to 320 degrees F.
Lower the fish into the oil, cooking 2 pieces at a time so as not to overcrowd the pan.
Fry for about 6 minutes, until golden brown, then drain on kitchen paper while you finish the chips.
Raise the temperature of the oil to 375 degrees F. Fry the chips in batches until they are crisp and golden brown, draining them on kitchen paper and seasoning with salt as they are done.
Serve the fish and chips accompanied by the tartare sauce and minted peas. (For the Minted Peas recipe, click here.)