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Beer-Battered Fish & Chips and Mushy Peas

October 19, 2010

My hubs and I love a good plate of fish & chips. It’s not often that we chance upon a really good fish & chips place in Singapore, so we’re always on the lookout for one when we’re overseas. And we did find one in fact, back in November 2008.

I was in London for work, and my husband came to join me for a few days towards the tail end of the trip. One evening we were looking for someplace to have dinner, and the hotel concierge recommended that we try a little Fish & Chipperie closeby called The Golden Hind. And what a delight it turned out to be! The Golden Hind, named after a famous warship from the 16th century, was a teeny mom & pop shop situated on 73 Marylebone Lane, near Marble Arch station. The inside was marvellously rustic, replete with wooden tables and chairs and a big ‘ol wooden signboard telling you how ownership of the restaurant had changed hands over the years. The owner, a Greek gentleman named Mr. Christou, kept mostly to himself, but was nice enough to have a couple of pictures taken with us before we left.

But what really made the place memorable, was its signature dish. The fried fish was completely perfect. Golden and crispy on the outside, tasty and cotton-soft on the inside. And the fries and mushy peas were just as good. We ate every last morsel with glee. Here’s a rare picture of me behind my delicious dinner, and another of the restaurant owner signboard.

Memories of our London Fish & Chips experience have never quite left me, so I was overjoyed when I came across this recipe for Fish & Chips in my other Jamie cookbook. I had big plans of replicating our London experience for my husband.

Alas and alack, my Fish & Chips was absolutely NOT The Golden Hind! The batter was just not crispy enough. And to me that makes all the world of difference. I should clarify though, that this was no fault of the recipe’s. The flavour of the batter was actually quite lovely. The problem was with the texture, and the faults leading up to that were all mine. My mushy peas also looked more like a wilted vegetable patch than mushy peas. In general my preparation of this dish was the quintessential lesson on what not to do when making fish and chips. I made heaps of mistakes, which I will make note of in the recipe below so you know what not to do and when…

(I would like to emphasise that it is a good recipe, and I will definitely be using it again! It just requires some planning and close attention :-)

Beer-Battered Fish & Chips and Mushy Peas

(Closely adapted from Fish, Chips and Mushy Peas in jamie’s dinners by Jamie Oliver. I just moved some of the steps around a bit and added some clarification.)

Click here for printable recipe.

Ingredients (serves 4):

Mushy peas

  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 4 cups of shelled peas (I would use frozen peas, but be sure to boil them for a couple of minutes before use)
  • A small handful of fresh mint leave, chopped
  • One squeeze of lemon juice from half a lemon
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Fish & Chips

  • LOTS of sunflower oil for deep frying
  • 4 good white fish fillets (I used a beautiful snapper fillet from Cold Storage that was easy to work with and tasted wonderful)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 cups plain flour + 2-3 tbsp extra for dusting
  • 1 heaping tbsp baking powder
  • 1-1/4 cups of cold beer
  • 4-5 big potatoes, peeled and sliced into chip-sized pieces

Look at those pretty fillets….

Directions:

1. First make your mushy peas. Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat, then add the peas and chopped mint. Cover the pan, turn the heat down a little bit and simmer for 10 minutes. (You will have to give the peas a shake every now and then to keep them from burning.) Add the lemon juice, sea salt and pepper. Then blend the peas in a blender till completely mashed. Keep the peas warm while making your fish & chips.

Jamie says you can also mash the peas by hand but seriously, DON’T DO IT. I tried and hence the wilted vegetable patch. Also next time I would just use frozen peas – way too much work shelling a whole mountain of pea pods just to yield the miniscule peas that we get in Singapore.

2. Now cook your fish. Pour sunflower oil into a wok – enough to dunk the fish in – and heat to 190 degC (375 degF). While oil is heating, season the fish fillets with the sea salt and pepper. (Jamie says this helps remove excess water and makes the fish really meaty. As you can see in my pictures, I use a loooot of pepper.) In a large bowl, use a fork to mix together the flour, baking powder and beer.

I would advise using less of the beer first and adding until you get the right consistency. The batter should be thick and sticky, but not so thick that it doesn’t adhere to the fish. I first used too little beer then too much, so the batter went from unusable to really mushy. Bleagh.

3. Leave your fish for a minute and work on your chips. Parboil your sliced potatoes in boiling water for 4-5 minutes till softened. Drain them in a colander and leave them there to blow off steam till they are dry.

3. Back to your fish. Dust the fish with some of the extra flour, and use a pair of silicon tongs (or the back of two spoons) to dip the fish into the batter and allow the excess to drip off. Then immediately lower the fish into the hot oil one at a time. Cook for 4 minutes or so until batter is golden. Remove from oil.

So my biggest folly, and what led to my batter being uncrispy, was my lack of control over the temperature of my oil. I suggest getting a candy thermometer that goes up to 400 degF and attaching it to the side of your wok so you can just leave it there and glance over every now and then. If you see the temperature go part 190 degC, don’t panic like I did – just turn the heat down a notch and work quickly to get your fish in. If you lower your heat too much, the temperature will drop severely once you lower your fish in, and the batter won’t cook.

4. Finally, back to the chips. Bring oil to about 175 degC (350 degF), throw in the chips and fry till golden. While the chips are frying, place the fish on a baking tray and stick ‘em in the oven at 175 degF (350 degF) to finish cooking. Remove your chips from the oil, remove your fish from the oven, and serve it all up with the mushy peas.

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2010 4:48 pm

    Not long ago, I went to this mushroom farm in JB and the good people there actually made super crispy battered mushrooms! They told me the secret lies in putting a slice of tamarind into the hot oil before frying anything. I am so intrigued but yet have the chance to try! A bit random – I still too shy to post a photo of me behind my dinner although I love having photos of myself behind dinners. Hee hee.

  2. October 19, 2010 8:21 pm

    Yum, this looks great! The presentation is gorgeous!

  3. Brenda Watson permalink
    October 19, 2010 8:49 pm

    Got a question: Why does the beer batter recipe call for 3 tsps baking powder as well as 1 heaping tablespoon baking powder?

  4. October 19, 2010 9:12 pm

    PY: Wow tamarind really?? Won’t that overwhelm the taste of everything else?
    Dimah: Thanks so much =)
    Brenda: Great catch! Thanks for pointing that out… I’ve removed the repeat both from the post and from the .pdf recipe file.

  5. Cons permalink
    October 19, 2010 9:13 pm

    Even if u use frozen peas, I would still suggest that u remove the shells. This way u will get smooth texture. Maybe u can attempt to add some milk or cream to give it a creamy texture. :-)

  6. October 19, 2010 9:16 pm

    Hi Cons! Actually I don’t think that’s necessary (I assume you are referring to the skin surrounding each seed, not the pod?). Plus waaaay too much trouble! You just need to boil the peas for a couple of minutes then throw them into the food processor with the other ingredients. In fact I think I’ll add that to the recipe…

  7. October 19, 2010 10:12 pm

    Oh they used dry tamarind slice not the usual paste so not that overwhelming I think.

  8. October 20, 2010 4:01 am

    Yep! A good ol’ fish and chips is almost hard to find, even here. I have had good ones in England, and Australia. I am also trying to do some kind of fried fish fillet dish this week or next. Hope I get lucky.

  9. Shirley@kokken69 permalink
    October 20, 2010 5:36 am

    For my Christmas party last year, I had a British pub food theme and fish & chips was one of the staple item on the table… This reminds me so much of that and it now reminds me of the fact that Christmas is coming and I need to decide what to serve!

  10. October 21, 2010 6:36 am

    Fish & chips are great indulgence! Yours look really delicious. Love the golden crust.

  11. October 21, 2010 6:31 pm

    tigerfish: Looking forward to seeing how it turns out!
    Shirley: Such a great idea! I still haven’t decided what to do for Christmas….
    Ellie: Thanks so much =)

  12. October 22, 2010 2:08 pm

    I first time I “see” you, you look so pretty. I always love a good plate of fish and chips and yours look good! not crispy enough? Try using a deep fryer which tells you the temperature of the heated oil, maybe that will help.

  13. October 22, 2010 5:42 pm

    Hi Clare,
    This fish & chips looks really good. It looks much better than those selling at some cafes you know! Are you opening a cafe soon? I would like to visit it! :)

  14. October 24, 2010 3:15 pm

    noobcook: Aww thanks girlie =) Would love to have a deep fryer but my kitchen is just bursting over! No more space!
    Jane: Haha you are much too kind! I’m definitely not of that caliber! =)

  15. October 27, 2010 2:38 am

    This fish looks very light and delicious :D

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