In 1860, Joseph Malin, a Jewish immigrant from Eastern Europe, started the first fish and chips shop in London’s East End. There are now well over 8,000 fish and chips shops in Britain. I think fish and chips taste better when you’re eating them near a body of water – on the beach with a beer it’s the perfect snack. Most dishes don’t need that backdrop. Otherwise, the only other place where I want fish and chips is in a British pub watching a football game. In the U.K., fish and chips are usually served with salt and vinegar. Here, I serve them with a tarragon malt vinegar mayonnaise and fried pickles. When you’re grocery shopping for this recipe, if you can’t find halibut, or would prefer to use some other fish, you can substitute cod, haddock, or whiting for delicious results.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, tarragon and vinegar and then season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and put the mixture in the refrigerator.
Pour enough oil into a heavy large skillet to reach depth of 1 inch. Heat the oil to 350°F. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and Old Bay seasoning. Add beer and whisk just until blended.
While the oil heats, slice the potatoes into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Working in batches, add the potato slices to the oil. Cook, turning occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, cooked through and just starting to turn golden, about 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain and set aside.
Cut the fish crosswise into half- to quarter-inch thick slices and season with salt and pepper on all sides. Working in batches, dip the fish into beer batter to coat lightly, allowing excess batter to drip back into the bowl. Add the fish to the hot oil and fry until deep golden and just cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the fish to a plate lined with paper towels to drain and keep warm.
While the fish drains, increase the heat to 375°F and cook potato rounds a second time until puffed and golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl lined with fresh paper towels and keep warm.
Slice the pickles into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Working in batches, dip the pickles into the remaining batter to coat lightly and fry them until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the pickles to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb the excess oil.
To serve, divide the fish, chips and pickles among the plates. Spoon the tarragon-malt vinegar mayonnaise alongside and serve immediately.