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Fish for compliments.

By Vanessa Greaves
March 09, 2021
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Learn how to make crispy, crunchy homemade fish and chips, with a helping hand from Nicole McLaughlin, aka NicoleMcmom. She'll share a couple of her favorite top-rated recipes along with plenty of how-to tips so you can achieve pub-worthy fish and chips in your own kitchen. And she'll even show you how to keep your house from smelling like fish!

Nicole's Top Tips for Fish and Chips

Before you get started, Nicole has some tips for success:

  • Fry the potatoes first before you fry the fish; doing it the other way around runs the risk of potatoes that taste like fish. And besides that, you want to serve the fish while it's freshly fried so it won't get soggy.
  • To get the crispiest fries, you're going to fry them twice: once at lower heat to tenderize them on the inside and a second time at a higher heat to crisp them on the outside.
  • Fry in batches to avoid crowding the pan. This also helps the oil stay at peak frying temperature.
  • Keep the the twice-fried potatoes warm while you're frying the fish by laying them on a baking pan fitted with a rack and placing in a warm 200 degree F oven.
  • Use a candy thermometer to ensure your oil is at exactly the correct temperature for frying.
  • Choose a firm white fish such as cod, haddock, or halibut.
  • To get that perfect crispy coating, the fish should be dry, batter should be cold, oil should be hot.

Get the recipe for Chef John's French Fries

homemade french fries in a fry basket
Credit: healthyeatingwithhomecooking

Ingredients

  • 1 russet potato, cut into evenly sized strips (you can peel or not)
  • 1 quart vegetable oil for frying
  • salt to taste (Nicole likes Maldon sea salt)

Directions

  1. Soak sliced potatoes in a large bowl of water for about 30 minutes. Pat dry thoroughly with paper towels.
  2. Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C). Gently add the potatoes in the hot oil for about 5 minutes, stirring and flipping the potatoes occasionally. Remove potatoes from oil with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towel and to cool completely.
  3. Turn up the heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Fry the potatoes again until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Blot with a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt to serve.

Get the recipe for Crispy Beer Batter Fish

homemade fish and chips with tartar sauce and coleslaw
Credit: Allrecipes

Ingredients

For the batter:

  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder

For the fish:

  • 4 (6-ounce) cod fillets, fully thawed if frozen
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour, or as needed
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup lager-style beer, or more as needed
  • vegetable oil for frying

Directions

  1. Whisk self-rising flour, rice flour, and baking powder together in a bowl. Stash in the freezer until ready to use.
  2. Pat fish as dry as possible. Cut pieces lengthwise to get eight 1-inch thick strips. Place rice flour on a plate and season with salt. Dust fish lightly with the mixture and shake off excess. Cover a plate with crinkled foil to make a quick drying rack; place fish on top.
  3. Heat oil in a deep-fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  4. Pour beer into the cold flour mixture and whisk, adding more as needed, until batter is the consistency of thick pancake batter. Dip fish pieces into the batter to coat; lift out and let excess drip off.
  5. Fry fish in batches until golden brown, dunking occasionally if needed, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

How to Serve Fish and Chips

Line individual bowls or baskets with sheets of parchment paper to take up any of the residual oil from the fish and potatoes. Place portions of fish and fried potatoes in each bowl or basket along with a small ramekin of homemade tartar sauce for dipping.

Nicole likes to serve fish and chips with a generous sprinkling of malt vinegar, too. You'll also want a fresh, crispy coleslaw to balance the fried food, and you might even consider whipping up mushy peas to get a taste of an authentic British pub meal.

How to Get Rid of That Fishy Smell

For many people, the barrier to cooking more fish is that lingering fishy aroma. Good thing there's a simple solution. If opening all your windows to the fresh air isn't enough, you can simmer a pan of water with one of the following add-ins:

  • Sliced lemon and rosemary sprigs
  • Cinnamon sticks and whole cloves
  • Ground coffee

OR you can heat a small pan of white vinegar until it steams, then let the steam waft through your kitchen.

You can connect with Nicole as NicoleMcmom on Allrecipes and on Instagram @nicolemcmom.

More tips, tricks, and ideas from Nicole: