Tonight's pub night, in your own home.

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“In your face, Bobby Flay,” I think smugly, looking across at him. Cue the chairman, “And the winner is…” Dramatic pause. Yawn. I know I already won; I’ve won, like, 15 times!

And, of course, the chairman calls my name. Bow to Bobby, bow to the chairman. And Alton tells everyone the breakdown.

Um, wait, what were we talking about again?

Oh yeah!

Ok, fine, I’ve never been on Iron Chef America, but I’ve watched it, like, 15 times.

There are some meals that require almost no effort and they always please the eaters. Fish’n’chips is no such meal. It requires some timing and planning to get everything together at the right time. There’s some danger with the hot oil. You feel like a chef when you pull it off. It’s a dish that pleases the cook as well as the eater.

And it’s well within your abilities, Dear Reader, especially with this handy guide.

Fish pieces, no bigger than a deck of cards. Get them out of the fridge and their wrapper to dry.

Before we get to the nitty gritty, though, let me expand on that feeling-like-a-chef thing. You should feel like a chef after cooking this because most actual chefs can’t really get Fish’n’Chips right.

I’m not one to frequent restaurants now that I’m married with children,1 but when I do and fish’n’chips is on the menu I’m almost universally disappointed in it. The fish is overcooked, dried out and overly flaky. Or the batter is greasy, meaning it’s been in the fryer too long, or the oil’s not hot enough.

The one place that did get it right in recent memory was On the Twenty Restaurant, in Jordan, Ontario, on the Niagara Peninsula.2

Perhaps I’m being hard on pub cooks. I generally shy away from seafood. Cooking fish properly is hard. If you consistently cook it well, pat yourself on the back, that’s a real feat. Even Bobby Flay can’t do it.

Six minutes max for the potatoes. You want fluffy edges that crisp up in the oil.

Some notes:

  • Any white fish works for this, but Cod is the default. A pound will serve four easily.
  • I’ll give amounts for the batter but look more at consistency than quantities of ingredients. You want something resembling pancake batter. A finger dipped in should come out coated.
  • Baker’s potatoes work best for the chips. I always make too many chips. One potato per person is plenty.
  • A really handy tool for your kitchen that is really useful for this dish is a spider. A slotted spoon will suffice.
  • Make sure your oil is good and hot for the fish (at 360F). I use a dedicated fryer which takes out the guess work. Oil in a Dutch oven works just as well.
  • Drag the fish around in the oil to let the batter cook a bit before letting them go. That way they’ll float in the oil. Use tongs. I use fingers, but I’ve got a food blog.
  • I’ll give approximate times for frying, but I go by appearance: for the chips, if they’re golden, they’re done; for the fish, the same, but I sometimes leave them a little longer to get the batter crispy.
  • Once finished, get those bad boys to the table! Fried foods quickly lose their verve after cooling. Eat them hot. Grab a beer.

Crispy batter; tender, flaky fish. It only a takes a few minutes.

Serves 4

  • 1 lb white fish, like cod, haddock, pollock
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 3 tbsp warm tap water
  • 3 baker’s potatoes
  • 1 bottle beer, I use Mill St’s Tankhouse Ale
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 lemon

Get your fish out of the package, onto a board. Cut to pieces about the size of a deck of cards. Pat dry with paper towels and let sit to reduce surface moisture.

Start your fryer, or heat your oil, to 360F.

In a small bowl, get the batter started: put the warm water and yeast in a bowl.

Get a pot of water on to a rolling boil.

Peel your potatoes. Cut in eighths lengthwise.

Once the water boils, tip in your potatoes. Set a timer for six minutes. Don’t guess or wing it, use a timer.

While the potatoes cook, add the beer, salt and flour to the yeast and water. Look for a thick pancake batter consistency. Set aside.

Your timer is beeping! Get the potatoes out! It’s best to scoop them out onto a baking sheet, rather than dump them into a colander. Let them air dry for a minute or so.

Ok, fry time. Put the potatoes in the oil in batches until done. My fryer can do about one potato at a time. When they’re golden, about 5 minutes, give them a shake to remove excess oil. Place on them on paper towels. Sprinkle some salt on them.

Once they’re all done, turn your oven on warm, place them all on a baking sheet and pop them in to keep them toasty while you fry the fish.

Place 1/4 cup of flour in a zip top bag. Carefully place your fish in the bag. Give them a little shake to coat them.

My fryer can take 3 or 4 fish pieces at a time. One at a time, dip the fish in the batter to completely coat it. Using  tongs, dip the fish in the oil and let it cook a bit before letting go. It should float in the oil. Halfway through, flip each piece to get them evenly cooked. Once they’re golden, get them out of there onto paper towels. Continue until all the fish is cooked.

Cut your lemon in wedges, place your chips and fish on a plate and serve, with a beer. You did it.


You can even use bigger pieces of fish, but that's advanced.


  1. And also, a fantastic cook, so why go out? []
  2. If you go there, head over to Cave Spring Cellars and buy a few bottles. Good wine. []

Jason Kemp is a geek trapped in a cool guy's body. He hand crafts software for the web and mobile devices. He excels at user interface design, the deadlift and barbecue. He is @ageektrapped across the internet.

2 thoughts on “Fish’N’Chips

  1. Looks so good. I haven’t had fish and chips in a couple of years for the same reasons you pointed out. If we ever come visit, can this be a request? Actually, any of your meals would be a request!!

  2. I totally get your fantasy sequence.

    Often I imagine pulling away from Lance Armstrong or some other notable cyclist on one of the many climbs in the Pyrenees or the Alps. I raise both arms and smile to the crowd as I cross the finish line.

    Alas, reality sets in all too soon.

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