A Step-By-Step Guide To Frying Fish For Fish And Chips

Fish and chips may seem like a simple dish, but to pull off a version worth washing down with a pint we're turning to Portland, OR chef David Padberg, who loaned us his expert step-by-step technique to frying fish for fish and chips.

"This is a signature lunch item because it is a classic of American and British fare. People love it for a reason: it's crisp, moist, light with the slaw and filling with a side of thick-cut fries," says Padberg. "I try to source ingredients with good conscience. In the batter, I prefer soda water to beer because it produces a lighter and crisper batter in which the spices can stand out more."

If you don't already have a go-to recipe for French fries, here's our step-by-step guide to making fries at home.

Meanwhile, here's what you need for 2 servings of gastropub-quality fried fish:

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cups soda water
  • 2 6-ounce cod fillets
  • (Note: This post is updated from an earlier version.)

    Portion the fish

    Portion the cod into three pieces of uniform thickness, each about 1 ½ ounces. The tail end will be flatter. As the fillet becomes thicker, slice as much of an angle as possible to keep the fish from being too thick in any place so it cooks through at the same time the batter has reached its optimal golden color and crispy texture.

    Mix together dry ingredients

    In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and cornstarch until well-combined.

    Whisk in soda water

    Whisk with the soda water and ground spices until you have a smooth batter.

    Batter the fish

    Dredge the pieces of fish in rice flour, then dip in the batter using tongs, allowing some of the excess batter to drip off. The tongs will keep the batter on your fish and off your fingers. 

    Fry the fish

    Deep-fry in 350F oil until golden brown, from 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cod. Remove from fryer with the tongs and drain in the fry basket or on a thick layer of paper towels on a plate or baking sheet. 

    Serve immediately with fries

    Serve while the fish is piping hot with cole slaw, a side of fries and an assortment of condiments — don't forget the malt vinegar!



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