Fish and Chips Represents the Heart and Soul of British Fast Food
Fish and chips is the national fast food of the United Kingdom and is sold throughout the land in dedicated fish and chip shops. While fish and chips were once the only items sold in the shops, over a period of time, many other offerings soon came to accompany the chips as an alternative to fish. Later still, fish and chip shops diversified further to serve meals containing neither fish nor chips.
Delicious as they are, many of the meals sold in fish and chip shops are slightly less than healthy in nature. This page is devoted to taking a look at some of the more popular combinations sold in British fish and chip shops and how they can be changed slightly, in order to be prepared at home in a considerably more healthful fashion.
How to Make Homemade Chips
Homemade chips are usually made simply by peeling, slicing and chopping the potato and frying the pieces once or maybe twice in fat or oil. This method goes a little bit further to produce homemade chips which are deliciously crispy on the outside and incredibly soft and fluffy on the inside.
The potatoes are peeled and chipped as normal before being added to a large pot of cold, unsalted water. The pot is put on to a high heat for the water to reach a boil, at which point the heat is reduced to simmer the chips for five minutes. The chips should be drained through a colander and plunged in to cold water for one minute only to cool them down considerably before being drained again, placed in a large plastic container with a lid and in to the refrigerator for at least half an hour.
The chips should be carefully patted dry in a clean tea towel before being deep fried for four to five minutes. They should not have started to brown at this stage and should still be fairly soft, so careful handling is required. They should then be drained on kitchen towel, covered and allowed to cool before being refrigerated again for a further half hour. They are then given a second fry for five to seven minutes to brown and crisp before being drained on fresh kitchen paper and served immediately.
Pan Fried Whiting in Breadcrumbs with Chips
Fish and chips was what it was all about when chip shops first came in to being in the nineteenth century. The fish used is traditionally Atlantic cod or haddock but in modern times, this presents a significant issue with regard to fish sustainability. These two fish are among the species most affected by over fishing and inappropriate fishing practices and the fish used here is the equally delicious but more sustainable whiting. The grossly under-estimated coley is also an excellent choice for making this recipe.
Fish recipes in fish and chip shops usually see the fish deep fried in batter, or bright orange, artificial breadcrumbs. This healthier option sees the fish cooked in fresh breadcrumbs and is extremely tasty.
An egg should be beaten in a flat bottomed bowl and three to four tbsp of fresh breadcrumbs scattered over a dinner plate. A little sunflower oil should be brought up to a medium heat in a non-stick frying pan. Draw the whiting fillet firstly through the egg then pat on both sides in the breadcrumbs. Repeat this process. Fry the fillet over a medium heat for around three minutes each side until the breadcrumbs are beautifully crisped and golden.
The fish should be served with a portion of chips and a wedge of fresh lemon and sprig of fresh dill make an attractive garnish.
Battered Hamburger and Chips Recipe
Fish batter is used for a wide variety of purposes in the fish and chip shops of today and it is impossible to ignore it altogether. Hamburger and chips from fish and chip shops will normally be prepared from premade patties, containing an unfortunate level of salt and artificial preservatives and probably a fairly low level of pork. These burgers are one hundred percent minced/ground pork, apart from a little seasoning.
The batter should be made first. Add four ounces of flour and half a teaspoon of salt to a large bowl. Normal cold water can be used but try using soda/carbonated water, straight from the refrigerator, for a bit of extra zing. Add the water slowly and it should require around four fluid ounces to make a lush batter of the consistency of double/heavy cream. If using soda water, the batter should be used immediately but if ordinary water is used, it can be refrigerated until required.
Put quarter of a pound of pork per burger in to a mixing bowl and season with salt and black pepper. Mix thoroughly by hand and form a quarter pound of the mix in each instance in to a round ball. Carefully flatten and shape between the palms of your hands to a thickness of between half and three-quarters of an inch. Pat the burgers on both sides in flour and shake off excess. Dip the burgers in the batter and allow excess to run off back in to the bowl.
It is imperative when cooking anything in batter that it be added to very hot oil. If the oil is not hot enough, it will seep in to the batter and make it extremely unpalatable, rather than deliciously crispy. Cook the burgers until the batter is crisp and golden - around ten to twelve minutes - and serve with chips.
Sausages, Beans and Chips - With a Difference
Sausage and chips from fish and chip shops will see the sausages deep fried in batter. The sausages are also likely to be made of fairly low grade meat. These sausages are made from high quality organic pork and leeks. They are very slowly shallow fried in sunflower oil (so that they don't burst) for around twenty minutes. Note that the sausages should not be pricked with a fork prior to cooking, as this causes the moisture and flavours to be lost.
Sausages, chips and beans is of course a long time British favourite dish. It normally consists of ordinary bangers (sausages) served with chips and baked beans in tomato sauce. The sausages, beans and chips above is a little different, with the beans being green dwarf beans, poached in slightly salted water for three to four minutes.
Roast Chicken and Chips
Chicken and chips from fish and chip shops will usually be comprised of half a chicken, deep fried in fat or oil. This alternative version consists of a chicken breast quarter (bone in) baked/roasted in the oven. Preheat your oven to 375F/190C and drizzle a tiny amount of oil on to a baking tray to prevent the chicken sticking. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place in to the oven for thirty-five to forty minutes.
Remove the chicken from the oven and pierce the thickest part with a skewer. Ensure the juices run clear. Cover with foil to rest while the chips are given their second and final frying.
This page can only offer a sample of some of the many dishes sold in fish and chip shops and suggestions for cooking them at home in a healthier fashion. There are certain items sold in fish and chip shops, such as perhaps doner kebabs, where we may think that there is no way they can be prepared in a healthy fashion without losing their identitiy entirely. With a little thought and research, however, it is amazing what can be achieved.
I hope that you have found this page interesting and useful in some respect. Thank you for your visit and any feedback which you have may be left in the space below.
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on May 04, 2017:
I hope you manage to make that return visit very soon and that in the meantime you get to enjoy some of these recipe ideas.
Lena Durante from San Francisco Bay Area on May 02, 2017:
This made me very nostalgic for England... I guess it's time to go back for a visit! In the meantime, I'm going to try your fish batter recipe. Thanks!
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on April 14, 2011:
Thank you, Simone. Sorry about putting temptation in your way... :)
Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on April 14, 2011:
Gyaaaah!!! I am so hungry!! And I don't even eat meat! Or fries!!! But now I think I will.............
Great Hub! Great tips, photos, and advice, too! Voted up, useful, and awesome!