Making your own fish and chips is a bit of a process – fair warning. And you really don’t want to rush… when you’re talking about large pots of hot oil you don’t also want to be talking about speed cooking. This is one of those things you make when you have an hour and want to invest it in cooking something amazing.
For two or three people you need:
1 pound of halibut, skinned and sliced thin in 3-4oz pieces
3 big russet potatoes
about half a cup of rice flour
about half a gallon of oil
tartar sauce and malt vinegar for garnish
all the stuff listed below to make the batter
Okay, we’re going to start with the batter because you really do want to let it sit for at least 10 minutes or so. Get a medium sized bowl out and wisk together the following ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt + pepper to taste
2 tsp Old Bay seasoning (we’ll have this at the shop this week!)
Put the bowl in your fridge and let it rest while you’re getting the oil going.
I like to use peanut oil, but vegetable or canola oil will work fine too. What we’re going for here is about an inch of oil in your pan so it’s going to take a fair amount. I purchased a gallon of peanut oil from Cash and Carry and used almost half of it to get an inch of depth in my big deep fry pan.
A note on disposal for when your frying part is over… you do not want to pour used oil down the drain. Save the pipes! Either dispose of it in a container via your regular trash or take it to: HazoHouse at 2418 Hogum Bay Rd NE in Lacey to recycle it. There’s a guy who picks up all the used cooking oil about once a month and uses it for biodiesel, which is awesome. HazoHouse is open Friday through Tuesday from 8 to 5PM and you can reach them directly at 867-2491. You can also sometimes find people looking for used cooking oils to make biofuel on Craigslist.
Okay! Next thing to consider is safety. Remind yourself where the fire extinguisher lives in your house and just pull out the box of baking soda to have nearby. You can’t be too careful…(especially if you drank that leftover beer from the batter recipe and are considering another – ha!). Pour your oil in your pan and turn on your burner medium-high. If you have a candy thermometer, set that up as well. (We’re going for about 350 degrees.) A thermometer isn’t entirely necessary, but if you have one you might as well use it. For those of you without – if your oil starts smoking it’s too hot. And always test a drip of batter before you toss something in… you want it to bubble instantly and happily. If it’s smoking and your bubbles are looking rather angry – turn it down and wait a few minutes. If you don’t get any bubbles or lazy bubbles – turn it up a bit or wait for it to heat up further. Once we got our oil up to temperature it maintained at about half way between medium and medium high on our electric stove.
Peel your potatoes and cut into fry shaped pieces. Put the chunks in a bowl and rinse them until the water runs crystal clear. Dump them into a colander and pat dry with paper towels. When your oil is 350ish, gently drop the potatoes into the pan and let them bubble happily for 6-8 minutes or until you start to notice just a hint of golden brown. The trick to really good homemade french fries is to double cook them, so we’re going to remove them from the oil with some tongs or a slotted spoon and let them rest on a paper towel until the fish is done. Then we’ll put them back in the oil for another 4-5 minutes to finish cooking all the way through. It’s worth the hassle.
Pull your batter out of the fridge and set it up next to a plate with the rice flour on it. Open up your fish, and if it’s not already cut (we can do this for you – just ask!) slice it into half-inch thick long pieces. Roll each slice in the rice flour, then dip in the batter, then gently place in the hot oil. Cook about 3 minutes, then roll it over and cook an additional 3 minutes. Remove the cooked fish gently with a pair of tongs and let it drain on a paper towel while you do your other pieces. (If you’re wanting to serve it piping hot, feel free to place it in a 250 degree oven while your other chunks are cooking to stay warm.) We did two batches of three pieces to cook our pound of halibut. You want to give each slice enough room so that they don’t get stuck together.
When your fish is done, cook the chips for another 4-5 minutes. Drain on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Serve with tartar sauce, a little malt vinegar and a beer. Best meal in town!