Ask a hundred British pubs their secret to delightfully greasy, crunchy fish and chips and you'll likely get a hundred different answers, but they will all have a few things in common: ice-cold batter and double-fried chips. Cold batter naturally has more viscosity than room-temperature batter, so it forms a thick coating that doesn't run before you lay it in the oil. Double-frying -- or blanching chips in moderately hot oil before frying them a second time in very hot oil -- gives them a crisp, golden-brown crust you won't get from cooking them all the way through in one go.
Things You'll Need
- Russet Burbank potatoes
- Peanut or canola oil
- Cast-iron pot or Dutch oven
- Spider or strainer
- Baking sheets
- Instant-read thermometer
- 1/2-inch-thick haddock or cod fillets
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
Scrub the potatoes and cut out the eyes. Peel the potatoes, if desired, and cut each in half; place the potatoes cut-side down on the work surface.
Slice the halved potatoes in 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick slices. Stack the slices and cut them into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-wide batons. Place the cut potatoes in a bowl of cold water right after you cut them.
Heat about 4 inches of peanut or canola oil in a cast-iron pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until it reaches 330 degrees Fahrenheit; check the oil temperature with an instant-read thermometer.
Pour the water from the potatoes and drain them on a plate lined with a couple of layers of paper towels. Blot the potatoes with paper towels to absorb the surface moisture.
Fry the potatoes until they slightly blister, about 3 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain; arrange the potatoes in an even layer and blot the excess oil from them.
Let the potatoes and oil cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Heat the oil to 375 F and fry the potatoes again until golden brown and crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the fries on paper towels and set them aside.
Sift all-purpose flour into a mixing bowl along with a pinch each of salt and baking powder. Whisk an equal volume of ice-cold lager into the flour. You can substitute cold water for the beer.
Chill the batter in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Pat the haddock or cod fillets dry with paper towels and season them to taste with kosher salt. Dredge the fillets in flour and set them aside.
Hold the first fillet by its tip and dip it in the batter. Hold the fillet above the bowl so the excess batter drains off.
Lower the fillet into the oil slowly; dropping it in quickly causes it to stick to the bottom of the pot. Dip the next fillet in the batter and lower it in the oil as you did the first.
Cook the fillets until golden brown, about 8 or 9 minutes. The fillets should have an internal temperature of 145 F when ready. Drain the fish on a plate lined with paper towels. While you finish frying the fillets, reheat the chips in a 200-F oven for about 5 minutes.
Serve the fish and chips with malt vinegar and tartar sauce. Strain the oil through a sieve lined with cheesecloth and store it in an airtight container. You can cook with used frying oil up to three times in 30 days, or until it starts to darken or take on a burnt smell.