Our teenage son has always been a huge fan of crispy fish n' chips.
Ever since he was just a wee little thing, if this classic comfort food was on a menu, he'd almost always ask to order it since it wasn't an entree that we would typically make at home—frankly, it seemed a bit laborious.
And because of his adoration of this tasty-yet-unpretentious meal, my husband and I have found our own love for it, making it a family “thing” by stopping by our favorite restaurant in Santa Barbara—a pub in downtown called “Dargan's”—to enjoy fresh fish n' chips hot out of the fryer.
Frankly, our day-trips there wouldn't feel complete without making that stop!
Crispy, golden and slightly salty, fish n' chips are an earthy comfort food, and are taken to exquisite levels (in my humble opinion) when generously doused in malt vinegar, my personal fave when it comes to condiments for this.
And when beer-battered, they have that slightly hoppy and malty flavor, that true flavor of the pub, and just beg to be enjoyed along with a cold, refreshing drink on the side.
So with it being apple season, I thought I'd put a little twist on the classic beer batter by substituting a semi-dry hard cider in place of the lager for just a hint of tangy, crisp sweetness—a perfect way to enjoy an old pub classic while making it fit for the fall, and using the flavors unique to this season that we're in.
I'm excited to say that we all loved these, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the process wasn't as complicated as I thought it'd be, especially since I made the “chips” in the oven rather than bothering with frying them. Easy-peasy!
So as we get further into this golden autumn season, I can feel my appetite turning to more comforting fare, chock-full of earthy-type flavors, and crispy, golden morsels that are freshly fried and crispy, on occasion.
I crave the type of meals that may just require a few extra napkins to dab my mouth with, but that leave a smile because they're simply just fun to eat and to enjoy with the people that I love spending time with.
And if this is fall's answer to one of our faves—a classic fish n' chips pub meal—then we're all about digging in and enjoying this tasty little twist.
Taste what'a good and pass it on.
Hard Cider-Battered Fish n' “Oven” Chips, Pub-Style, with Lemon Tartar Sauce
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves about 4
• “Oven” Chips (recipe below)
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup cornstarch
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• ¼ teaspoon paprika
• 12 fluid ounces hard cider (I used “Samuel Smith's Organic Cider”, but you can use any semi-dry cider)
• 2 pounds cod fillets, cut into smaller pieces, if necessary
• Black Pepper
• ½ cup rice flour, for dredging (*see note below)
• Canola or vegetable oil, for frying
• Lemon Tartar Sauce (recipe below)
• Lemon wedges, for garnish
• Malt vinegar
(*If you don't have rice flour, you can use all-purpose flour; the rice flour helps to create a good seal between the batter and fish, and keeps the oil out nicely.)
-Begin by preparing your “Oven” Chips, and while those bake, proceed with preparing the batter and fish.
-Prepare your batter by whisking together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, pepper and paprika in a large bowl; next, slowly pour in the hard cider, and gently whisk to blend and create a smooth batter; allow it to rest for about 15 minutes.
-Meanwhile, slowly heat your frying oil in a heavy bottom pan or pot (about 6 cups) to between 350-360°.
-Season your cod fillets by sprinkling them with a couple of pinches or salt and black pepper.
-Once the oil is hot and your batter has rested, dredge the pieces of fish in the rice flour, then dip one at a time in the batter, allowing the excess to drip off, and gently place into the oil (work in batches of 2-3 pieces as to not overcrowd); fry the fish for about 6-8 minutes, or until golden and crispy.
-Drain the fried fish on a wire rack, and repeat the process until all pieces are fried.
-Serve the fish while hot with the “Oven” Chips, Lemon Tartar Sauce, malt vinegar and lemon wedges.
Crispy “Oven Chips Ingredients:
• 4 russet potatoes, unpeeled and sliced into matchstick-type slices
• Canola oil
• Black pepper
• ½ teaspoon granulated onion
• ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
• ½ teaspoon paprika
-Preheat oven to 400°, and line a baking sheet with parchment or foil lightly misted with cooking spray.
-Toss the potato matchsticks with about 3-4 tablespoons of the oil, a couple of good pinches of salt and black pepper, the granulated onion and garlic, and the paprika.
-Turn the seasoned potatoes out onto the baking sheet, and bake for about 45 minutes, or until nice and golden-brown. (I like to turn the broiler on for a moment or two at the end, to crisp them up a bit more.)
Lemon Tartar Sauce Ingredients:
• 1 cup mayonnaise
• Zest of 1 lemon (about 1 teaspoon)
• ½ teaspoon lemon juice
• ½ teaspoon sweet pickle relish
• 1 teapsoon chopped, flat-leaf parsley
• Pinch or two salt
• Pinch black pepper
-Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl, and use immediately, or keep covered in the refrigerator if making ahead.