Fish and chips became a stock meal among the working classes in Great Britain as a consequence of the rapid development of trawl fishing in the North Sea, and the development of railways which connected the ports to major industrial cities during the second half of the 19th century, which meant that fresh fish could be rapidly transported to the heavily populated areas. Deep-fried fish was first introduced into Britain during the 17th century by Jewish refugees from Portugal and Spain, and is derived from pescado frito. In 1860, the first fish and chip shop was opened in London by Joseph Malin. Fish and chips in Brighton, England Deep-fried chips (slices or pieces of potato) as a dish may have first appeared in Britain in about the same period: the Oxford English Dictionary notes as its earliest usage of "chips" in this sense the mention in Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities (published in 1859): "Husky chips of potatoes, fried with some reluctant drops of oil". The modern fish-and-chip shop ("chippy" or "chipper" in modern British slang originated in the United Kingdom, although outlets selling fried food occurred commonly throughout Europe. Early fish-and-chip shops had only very basic facilities. Usually these consisted principally of a large cauldron of cooking fat, heated by a coal fire. During World War II fish and chips remained one of the few foods in the United Kingdom not subject to rationing. We have provided a recipe for homemade fish, chips and mushy peas but to be truthful theres nothing like the real thing bought from a decent chippy and eaten from the paper.
sunflower oil, for deep-frying
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 225 g white fish fillets, from sustainable sources, pinboned, ask your fishmonger
- 225 g flour, plus extra for dusting
- 285 ml beer, cold
- 3 heaped teaspoons baking powder
- 900 g potatoes, peeled and sliced into chips
- For the mushy peas
- 1 knob butter
- 4 handfuls podded peas
- 1 small handful fresh mint, leaves picked and chopped
- 1 squeeze lemon juice
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- To make your mushy peas, put the butter in a pan with the peas and the chopped mint.
- Put a lid on top and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Add a squeeze of lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. You can either mush the peas up in a food processor, or you can mash them by hand until they are stodgy, thick and perfect for dipping your fish into. Keep them warm while you cook your fish and chips.
- Pour the sunflower oil into your deep fat fryer or a large frying pan and heat it to 190ºC/375ºF.
- Mix the salt and pepper together and season the fish fillets on both sides. This will help to remove any excess water, making the fish really meaty.
- Whisk the flour, beer and baking powder together until nice and shiny. The texture should be like semi-whipped double cream (i.e. it should stick to whatever you're coating).
- Dust each fish fillet in a little of the extra flour, then dip into the batter and allow any excess to drip off.
- Holding one end, lower the fish into the oil one by one, carefully so you don't get splashed – it will depend on the size of your fryer how many fish you can do at once. Cook for 4 minutes or so, until the batter is golden and crisp.
- Meanwhile, parboil your chips in salted boiling water for about 4 or 5 minutes until softened but still retaining their shape, then drain them in a colander and leave to steam completely dry.
- When all the moisture has disappeared, fry them in the oil that the fish were cooked in at 180ºC/350ºF until golden and crisp.
- While the chips are frying, you can place the fish on a baking tray and put them in the oven for a few minutes at 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4 to finish cooking. This way they will stay crisp while you finish off the chips.
- When they are done, drain them on kitchen paper, season with salt, and serve with the fish and mushy peas.