Aleksandra Crapanzano takes a look at the city’s finest food offerings in The London Cookbook.
Here are a few pointers about heat and timing, as expertise in deep-frying isn’t a given. If the oil isn’t hot enough, your fish and chips will be soggy instead of crispy. Be patient in waiting for the oil to heat to the required temperature and work in batches so as not to overcrowd the fryer and lower the temperature of the oil. I suggest making the tartar sauce first and refrigerating it until needed. Then prepare the batter. And finally, heat the oil and set to frying, first the potatoes and then the fish.
- To make the tartar sauce, whisk together the egg yolks, mustard, salt, and pepper in a bowl until pale. Whisk in the vinegar and lemon juice. While whisking constantly, drizzle in the oil to form a mayonnaise-like emulsion. Only add the ice water as needed to loosen the consistency if too thick. Fold in the gherkins, capers, and shallots. Fold in the parsley just before serving.
- To make the batter for the fish, combine the flour, cornstarch, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, then pour in the beer and sparkling water and whisk to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes, then whisk again until smooth. Set aside to rest for 15 to 20 minutes longer and then whisk again. There should be no lumps!
- To make the chips. Wash the peeled potatoes and cut them into 1⁄2-inch wide batons. Rinse the potatoes under cold running water to remove excess starch.
- Parboil the potatoes in abundantly salted boiling water until just short of tender. Drain and transfer immediately to a bath of ice-water.
- Line a plate with paper-towels and place next to the stove. Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or high-sided saucepan to 280˚F. Working in batches, drain the potatoes and plunge them into the hot oil to blanch for 2 minutes. Remove with a spider spoon and drain on paper towels. Increase the heat of the oil to 360˚F, then plunge the chips back into the oil for 4 to 5 minutes longer, until golden brown and crispy. Remove immediately to drain on paper towels and sprinkle with sea salt.
- To make the fish, line a plate with paper towels and set next to the stove. Using the same saucepan or fryer as you used to the make the chips, bring the oil to 360˚F. Working in batches, dip the fish into the batter and, holding each piece up by its tail end, let the excess drip off. Gently place the fish into the hot oil and fry for about 8 minutes, until golden and crispy. Work quickly because the beer batter is best used as soon as it’s ready. Transfer to drain on the paper-towel lined plate while you finish frying the remaining fish.
- Serve the fish and chips immediately with the tartar sauce and malt vinegar.
Reprinted with permission from The London Cookbook, copyright 2016 Aleksandra Crapanzano. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.