Cornman Farms, Recipes

Fish and Chips: A History

Fish and chips is often thought of as THE quintessential English dish. It’s a national institution woven into the history and culture of England and, not surprisingly, a favorite of our very own, British chef, Kieron Hales! 

Chef Kieron Hales

Marta Perez Photography

“In the UK, you usually eat fish and chips at 9 o’clock at night, or at 10 o’clock in the morning, as soon as the fish and chip shop opens. The enjoyment is in the unwrapping of that paper and sitting on the hood of your car, where you’re usually attacked by seagulls. We invite our guests to recreate this moment at Cornman Farms’ drive-through fish and chips events this summer. They’ll enjoy authentic fish and chips and stunning views of our grounds – without the attacking seagulls.”

FISH AND CHIPS: AN ORIGIN STORY
While it’s mostly agreed the iconic duo originated somewhere in England, whoever first paired fish with chips, and whether it hails from northern or southern England, remains the subject of fierce debate.

“It was supposedly started either up in Scotland or England – we like to have a good fight about that,” Chef Kieron said.

Beyond disagreements around the origin of fish and chips, there’s also debate around the specifics of how the dish is served. Cod or haddock? Pickled onion? Curry sauce? What kind of vinegar? Which town has the best fish and chips? Many of these debates are regional, and are packed with hometown pride.

Fish and Chips

FISH AND CHIPS IN ENGLISH CULTURE
Through the late 19th century and well into the 20th century, fish and chips was a staple that fueled the growing industrial population of Great Britain. Some even say the humble dish fueled the industrial revolution!

The meal was also relied on to supplement family diets during World War I, since fish and chips were among the very few foods that were not rationed, in an effort to “keep families on the home front in good heart,” according to Professor John Walton, author of Fish and Chips and the British Working Class. Similar efforts to make sure fish and chips weren’t rationed during World War II also took place.

For generations, this dish has fed English culture, in both times of war and peace. It’s been a dish that’s eaten for a late-night dinner on the way home from the pub, a pay-day treat at the end of a long week, and an indulgent meal on seaside holidays. 

FISH AND CHIPS AT CORNMAN FARMS
This summer, we’re serving up traditional fish and chips every Wednesday in July and August. Simply order your fish and chips online, pick it up at the Farm, and pretend you’re ambling down London’s cobblestoned streets as you dive into one of its most iconic dishes. While we cannot host guests for a proper sit-down meal yet, we encourage you to park on the property, roll down the windows, and stare off at the rolling fields while digging into your food! Alternatively, head to one of the many beautiful parks nearby, such as Mill Creek Park and Hudson Mills Metropark.
Zingerman's Cornman Farms

DO IT YOURSELF
If you’re feeling ambitious and are looking for a quick and delicious culinary project, try your hand at Chef Kieron’s fish and chips recipe! The full recipe, ingredients, and instructions are below. Visual learners, be sure to check out Chef Kieron’s video tutorial on Instagram TV.

 

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Fish & Chips Recipe

Chef Kieron shares his recipe for classic fish and chips: golden, battered cod fish served with thick, salty steak fries.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 large (1200g) russet potatoes
  • 1 gallon peanut oil
  • 4 6oz filets cod, whitefish, pollock, haddock, or perch
  • 1 bottle (310g) bottle of Stella Beer (or any IPA beer)
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) vodka
  • 2-3 tablespoons (30g) kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons (6g) baking powder
  • 1 ¾ cups (250g) soft cake flour (or any low gluten flour)
  • ¼ cup (36g) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (36g) cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon (10g) black pepper

Instructions

  1. Cut potatoes into ¾ inch (18mm) pieces.
  2. Rinse the potato pieces under cold running water for 10 minutes.
  3. Add oil to a pan and bring to 300F.
  4. Add potatoes and fry for 6 to 7 minutes, until tender.
  5. Drain the chips onto a sheet tray with a wire rack. Place in the fridge.
  6. Place beer and vodka into a large bowl.
  7. Add 1 tablespoon (10g) kosher salt and baking powder to the liquid and whisk fully.
  8. Sift the soft cake flour into another bowl.
  9. Using a large soft whisk gently whisk in the soft cake flour one spoonful at a time.
  10. Once batter is fully mixed, allow to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, mix all-purpose flour and cornstarch in a bowl. Set aside.
  12. Season fish with kosher salt and black pepper.
  13. Allow to rest on a wire rack with a tray under it for 20 to 30 minutes.
  14. Dry fish with a paper towel.
  15. Place each piece of fish into the flour and cornstarch mix. Cover fully and press down on the fish.
  16. Dust off the excess flour and place into the batter mixture. Cover fully and allow to sit in mixture for 2 minutes.
  17. Gently pull the fish out of the batter and allow to drain for 20 to 30 seconds.
  18. Add oil to your dutch oven or fish fry pan until it is approximately 3 inches deep.
  19. Heat oil to 350F degrees.
  20. Holding your fish, dip it halfway into the oil and allow the batter to begin to fry for 10 seconds. (This creates air pockets that allow the fish to float in the oil.)
  21. Drop the fish fully into the oil. (If you are using a deeper pan like the dutch oven, we recommend using a fryer basket or strainer. See examples linked above.)
  22. Turn fish over after 2 minutes.
  23. Repeat this process every 2 minutes for a total for 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly golden. The center of the fish should be 145F or above. (Remember this fish will continue to cook as it rests.)
  24. Remove and cool for 2 minutes on a wire rack over a sheet tray. Do not use a paper towel as this will make the fish steam and lose its crispiness.
  25. While your fish is resting, turn up the heat on the oil to 375F to make the chips.
  26. Drop chips into the oil for 2 to 3 minutes or until crispy.
  27. Drain chips onto a wire rack and season with plenty of salt.
  28. We love eating these with tartar sauce, malt vinegar, curry sauce, and/or a squeeze of lemon if you’ve got it!