To anyone out there who mocks English/Irish fare, I have three words for you: fish. and. chips.
Actually, I have a few more words, such as “oh my god get out you don’t know what you’re even talking about,” and “um, have you HEARD of Sunday roast, you plebe?” It seems like a lazy, uninformed kind of insult, especially since I follow a few British food bloggers on here and easily 98 percent of the time I find myself drooling all over my keyboard at their pictures of amazing-looking food. (Though I have to get this off my chest: Haggis. Admittedly, I’ve never had it, because I can’t wrap my head around it. I just…what. Why. Scottish people, please explain.)
Fish and chips is probably one of my favorite junk food indulgence meals. I mean, does it get much better than, to quote my favorite hobbit of all time, lovely big golden chips, with a nice piece of fried fish? Especially when that fish is beer-battered? With a little dish of tartar sauce? Ommmm.
I know fish and chips is a traditionally English dish, and when I think UK/Ireland, I think chilly weather, rain, fog, thick sweaters, scarves, etc., but fish and chips makes me think of sunny, warm beach weather, oddly enough.
Then again, perhaps not oddly enough. I’ve only been to Ireland once, and am basing most of my assumptions about the UK region’s weather on this. Which is, in all likelihood, not especially accurate. I don’t know. I think this just means I need to go to London?
I’ve seen some recipes that use darker beer – even Guinness – which is probably so good, but I used an IPA, since I’m not a huge fan of IPAs and I had one in the variety pack of beers I picked up this weekend. A lot of the time, I think they just taste like pencils. Also, most recipes I’ve come across use cod, but tilapia is what I had on hand, and it was delicious.
Beer battered fish and chips
4 filets (about 1 lb) tilapia
1 cup IPA
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
pinch black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper
cornstarch, for dredging the fish
5 medium sized potatoes
potato seasonings of your choice (I went with black pepper and seasoned salt)
Peel your potatoes, then slice into fries/wedges/sticks. (Joy the Baker has a good tutorial for cutting fries here. I did not follow it. Do as I say, not as I do, I guess?) Fill a large bowl with warm water and about 2-3 tablespoons of salt, then add your potatoes to the bowl and soak for about 15-20 minutes. Once the potatoes are done soaking, strain them, pat them dry (be sure to get them TOTALLY dry, or at least as dry as possible. Wet fries = spattering = burning your arms, which is no fun) and season them.
Next, make your beer batter. In a large bowl, mix together your beer, flour, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper and cayenne. Set aside until you’re ready to use. Add your cornstarch to another, smaller bowl.
Preheat your oven to a relatively low temp – 150-200F or so.
Heat your vegetable oil in a large, preferably non-stick pan – be sure to use enough to keep your fries/fish totally covered. Once the oil is nice and hot (I usually check by flicking a little bit of water into the pan to see if it sizzles. I have no idea if this is 100 percent safe), add your fries (likely in batches, to prevent overcrowding) and cook until slightly browned. Remove from the oil and allow them to sit on a paper towel lined plate. Fry the potatoes twice – they’re better that way, because reasons.
Once the fries have been double-cooked, put them on a lined baking sheet (parchment paper is good) and keep them warm in the oven.
Now, for the fish. You’re going to want to cut the filets so you have pieces of fish that are totally acceptable to eat with your hands. I cut the filets in half; depending on the size of your fish, you might even want to cut them into three or four pieces. Dredge the fish in cornstarch (does anyone else have serious texture problems with cornstarch? Is this just me? Have I mentioned this before?), then dip in the beer batter. Allow any excess batter to drip off – if the batter is too thick, the fish won’t cook all the way through. At first, I thought my batter coating looked way too thin, but it turned out perfect. Place the fish in the pan (where you cooked your fries) in batches and cook until the fish takes on a lovely, crispy, golden color (colour? Am I required to spell British-y with this recipe?), about 8-10 minutes.
Serve, with tartar sauce, lemon wedges and/or malt vinegar.