I seek out British chef Matthew Hornsby-Bates whenever I crave classic English food. His Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding with all the side dishes is my favorite indulgence, along with his Fish and Chips.
Recently, Matthew and his Filipino wife, chef Meg Tansiongco, visited me with their newborn, Kane. While Meg and I chatted away, Matthew so kindly went to work and cooked delicious fish and chips.
I love mine lightly battered and crisp on the outside, with the fish still moist and delicate on the inside, served with golden fries, just as chef Matthew does it.
He reminded us that fish and chips has been the “undisputed national dish of Great Britain for around 150 years.” It has become “a cultural and culinary symbol of our country, instantly recognized as British all over the world.”
“The love for it,” he added, ranks alongside “our love for roast beef and Yorkshire puddings and the recently nominated Chicken Tikka Nasala as the English national dish.”
“When I was a child,” said Matthew, “one of my fondest memories would be sitting on a pier on a cold day eating fish and chips from a greasy paper bag wrapped in newspaper, with the wooden chip fork, of course!”
Today, he declared, “fish and chips are divided between the classic chip shop (the batter made mainly from flour, water and yeast) and the experimental modern chef, with so many adaptations on batter, sides and serving styles.”
His favorite is beer-battered fish: “Beer will give [the fish] that unique crisp texture once fried due to its high carbon dioxide content and foamy consistency.”
As for the chips, he said the “correct potato” should be used: “A King Edward or Maris Piper would be just perfect due to its texture.”
While fish and chips is traditionally enjoyed dusted with salt and a splash of malt vinegar, he added, it’s also commonly served with side dishes such as pickled onions, pickled gherkins, tartar sauce, curry sauce and everyone’s favorite, the mushy peas. “Nothing works better with crispy piece of battered fried fish than a generous ladle of overcooked peas,” he said.
Here’s exactly how the chef cooked his beer-battered fish and chips for us. He included mushy peas and tartar sauce to complete the experience. He also gave personal tips and tricks.
Thanks Matthew! (You may reach him at 0917-5825441.)
4 pcs approximately 180 g each of Cod or Haddock fillets, the fresher the better. The tail end of the fish is best to use since there are less bones. (We used the Pacific Bay brand of Atlantic Cod, available at all major supermarkets.)
100 g flour, seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper
200 g all-purpose flour
300 ml San Miguel Pale Pilsen
5 g salt
5 g pepper
Pinch of turmeric for a beautiful golden color
1.5 liters ground nut or canola oil, for frying. (Both oils are good for frying as either can reach high temperatures without smoking. Note that the same oil will be used to fry the chips.)
For the batter: Whisk all the ingredients except the oil to make a smooth batter.
Let batter rest for 20-30 minutes.
Heat oil to 180 degrees Celsius.
Wipe fish dry and lightly dredge them in seasoned flour.
Dip the fish fillets into the batter before slowly submerging them into the hot oil.
Cook for 6-8 minutes until crisp and golden.
(Note: Prepare everything else first. Fry the fish last, just before serving.)
2 shallots, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
50 g butter
400 g peas
1 chicken stock cube
1 medium-sized potato (peeled and diced)
1 medium onion (diced)
Combine all the ingredients for the mushy peas and simmer until thick and mushy.
Season to taste.
6 potatoes (use the right potatoes, if available)
Pinch of rock salt
Cut potatoes into 1-cm sized chips and wash thoroughly to remove any starch.
Dry the potatoes.
Heat oil to 140 degrees Celsius.
Fry the chips for 7-8 minutes until soft.
Lift out and drain.
Reheat the same oil to 180 degrees Celsius and return the chips to refry, cooking this time, until they are crispy and brown.
Drain well and season with salt.
Lemon tartar sauce
2 shallots, diced
50 g cornichon/gherkins
50 g capers
25 g chives
10 g tarragon
1 tsp lemon zest
1 c mayonnaise, preferably homemade
Finely chop all of the above ingredients and mix with the mayonnaise. Season to taste.
(The Fish and Chips Cone Stand used in the photo is courtesy of Urban Kitchen. For a catalog of Urban Kitchen products, e-mail [email protected] or call tel. 0917-5822809.)
Here’s a useful tip:
My friend Sofia Co had told me that if ever I found myself with a fish bone stuck on my throat, I should keep quiet and turn my plate clockwise three times. The plate must make three complete turns, but you can also keep turning the plate until the bone comes out.
I looked at her in disbelief and said, “Oh?” And I left it at that.
A month after, a hito bone stuck on my throat. I remembered what Sofia told me and did exactly as she said.
Guess what? Immediately after the third rotation of my plate, the bone just came out.
Don’t ask me how, it just did! The people watching me do it gave me a real strange look; then after I announced the successful disentangling of the bone, we were all just amazed.
Well, you don’t have to swallow a fish bone just to prove or disprove this theory. But in case you find yourself in such a predicament, do as I did.
For a schedule of my cooking classes, call tel. nos. 9289296, 4008496, 0908-2372346 and 0917-5543700.