Jan 26, 2017
British-Style Fish and Chips Part 1
Oh My Cod
An estimated 8,500 to 10,500 specialty shops across the United Kingdom serve fish and chips. Battered cod, soused in vinegar, and wrapped in paper is a beloved staple that 80% of Brits enjoy at least once a year. Fish and chips even nabbed spot number ten on a list of the UK’s top favorite smells in 2004. How did this dish rise to such prominence?
The tale begins in 1860 when Joseph Malin opened the first official fish and chips shop. A reliable source of iron, protein, and fiber, this smashing combination was affordable fuel for the Industrial Revolution. Newspapers served as a low-cost wrapping paper that kept in steam and absorbed grease. During World War II, fish and chips were among the few foods to escape government rationing, solidifying their crucial role in British culture.
When we were creating recipes for Sous Vide at Home, we wanted to include iconic dishes, like fish and chips, that might seem hard to make at first glance. While it’s extremely easy to overcook fish using conventional methods, sous vide makes the fish marvelously moist and flavorful. We hope you enjoy a slightly abridged version of our step-by-step recipe for sous vide fish and chips.
Prep time: 35 min. (plus 15 min. for chilling)
Sous vide time: 15 min. (up to 20 min.)
Yield: 4 main course servings
– 1½ lbs. skinless cod fillet
– 1 tsp. canola oil or other mild vegetable oil
– ¼ cup potato starch or cornstarch
– 1 tbsp. malt vinegar or cider
– 12 oz. bottle of pale lager (pilsner recommended)
– 1 tsp. kosher salt
– 1½ cups all-purpose flour
– 1 tsp. baking powder
– 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
– 3 tbsp. chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley, dill, or tarragon
– ¼ cup mayonnaise
– 1 tbsp. minced shallot
– 2 tbsp. minced cornichon or other sour pickle
– ¼ cup sour cream or crème fraîche
– Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Method for Beer-Battered Sous Vide Fish
1. Cut your cod fillet into strips that are 1 ½ inches wide.
2. Preheat your sous vide water bath to 51°C (124°F).
3. Season the cod with salt and then coat them with the canola or vegetable oil to keep them from sticking together.
4. Arrange the fish in a single layer inside the gallon-size heat-safe bag and use a vacuum-sealer, or the easy water displacement method, to push out all the air.
5. When the temperature is ready, lower the bag into the water bath and sous vide for about 15 minutes.
6. Remove the bag and chill the fish until completely cool (takes about 15 minutes).
Method for Batter
1. Whisk baking powder, potato starch, flour, and salt in a large bowl.
2. When thoroughly blended, whisk in the vinegar and beer.
Method for Tartar Sauce
1. Stir together the lemon juice, sour cream, parsley, mayonnaise, shallot, and cornichon in a small bowl.
2. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Frying your Sous Vide Fish
1. Preheat the oven to 250°F (the oven will be used after frying to keep the sous vide fish warm).
2. Line a sheet pan with paper towels and place it near the stove.
3. Take a cast iron skillet and pour in the oil to a depth of at least 1½ inches.
4. Place the skillet on the stove over medium heat, checking that the oil comes no more than a third of the way up the skillet’s side.
5. Heat the oil until it reaches 350°F on a high-heat thermometer. You can also test the temperature by inserting a wooden skewer into the center of the skillet. If it’s ready, the oil will bubble around the skewer immediately.
6. Remove the pieces of chilled fish from the bag and gently slip them into the bowl of batter. Use your fingers to turn them in the batter for an even coat.
7. Carefully transfer the pieces of battered fish to the oil in the skillet, spacing them at least 2 inches apart.
8. Without stirring, fry the fish until the batter turns golden brown at the edges (takes approximately 3-4 minutes). Flip them over and continue frying for 1-2 more minutes until the pieces are evenly golden brown.
9. Transfer the fried fish to the towel-lined sheet pan, season with salt, and then put the pan in the oven to keep the cod warm.
For part two of our sous vide fish and chips recipe, you’ll need a starch potato, like a russet, for the best double-fried chips. As always, we’d love to see your favorite sous vide recipes on Eat Tender, our online community of foodies, home cooks, and professional chefs.
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