Pair batter-dipped and deep fried whitefish with deep-fried potatoes and you have one of the most well-known dishes enjoyed throughout the British Empire and now the rest of the world - fish&chips.
The dish consists of filets of cod, haddock or flounder dipped in batter or breadcrumbs and deep fried, served alongside "chipped" potatoes which have been slab-cut, although on many American menus today the "chips" are actually French fries (pomme frites) rather than the authentic thicker-cut British fried chipped potatoes.
Fish & chips traces its origins to a Sephardic dish called "Pescado frito" which was brought to England by Spanish and Portuguese settlers in the 17th century. Originally, the fish was battered only to help it become more juicy and succulent during the frying process and the batter shell was discarded before eating.
Fish & chips was one of the original "take out" foods because it was a pretty inexpensive meal that could be wrapped in newspaper and easily transported. Its consumption also got a boost from the Roman Catholic Church, which disallowed the eating of meat on Fridays, so many of the faithful turned to eating fish & chips that day instead.
To prepare your own authentic fish & chips dish you will need vegetable oil for deep frying, 4 large russet potatoes, 2 cups all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1 beaten egg, 1 can soda water, 1/2 cup rice flour and 2 cod or halibut filets in half.
Heat three inches of vegetable oil in a deep fryer or pot to 325 degrees. Peel your potatoes and cut into thick "chips," about the size of your middle finger. Fry the chips about 2-3 minutes until partially cooked and remove with a slotted spoon and drain.
Increase the temperature of your oil to 375 degrees. Mix dry ingredients (all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt and pepper) together with the egg, add soda water and stir well until it's a smooth batter. Now dredge each piece of fish in rice flour, dip in batter, shaking off excess.
Replace the chips back into the fryer or pot to continue frying, putting the battered fish pieces on top of the chips and frying about 4-5 minutes until both fish pieces and chips are nicely browned and crisp. Drain on a paper towel.
Serve with malt vinegar in the traditional English style stuffed into a cone made out of newspaper. Now you know how to make traditional fish and chips!