People are often asked what they would choose as their "last supper". For me, without a doubt it would be fish and chips. Fresh cod, lightly battered, with hand cut french fries, seasoned with sea salt, with a side of dressing and gravy, fresh lemon and good brown malt vinegar. I'd wash it all down with a cold bottle of Blue Star or India (or maybe a can of Pineapple Crush).
Living in St. John's, Newfoundland allows one to take many things for granted, and good fish-n-chips is no exception. You can get really good fresh fish and a load of fries, with all the fixins (fried onions with canned peas, dressing and gravy) all around town, even in the mall, and especially downtown on Freshwater Road.
Since I've moved away, I've yet to have great fish and chips, the way we do it back home with an "English style" wet batter that is light( not doughy) and crisp, with well cooked (twice fried is the only way to go) homemade french fries. I've had good fish, as there are "Fish Fry's" as they call them here all over the place, but they are not even close. For starters, finding homemade fries is impossible. Everyone uses frozen fries, and crinkle cut seem to be the most popular at the "Fish Fry" places I've been to (small portion too!). Then there is the fish and the batter. The fish is almost always haddock, which I like, but it isn't cod. Also is the batter. More often than not, here in upstate NY, the batter is a dry flour based batter...like a plain fried chicken crust. In New England, particularly on the coast they do a simple corn flour batter. The seafood (which I must say is often quite fresh (haddock, flounder, scallops, shrimp and clams) is simply dunked in milk and tossed in the corn flour and fried. I like this, especially on the shellfish, but again, it just isn't the same. Plus if you think you're going to find dressing and gravy served with your fish you're mistaken. Here the side is coleslaw, tarter sauce, and a malt vinegar, but the vinegar is not like we have back in Newfoundland (the stuff made from Brown Vinegar Concentrate you get at Ches' for instance).
With all that being said it is needless to say that I try and make fish and chips myself at home two or three times a month. Since I don't have a deep fat fryer, I do a pan fried cod served with oven roasted home fries, and yes I always have the dressing and gravy and a fresh tarter sauce with vinegar. Check it out!
Friday Night Fish and Chips
4 large potatoes (whatever you like, I mix it up between Yukons, Russets and Reds) into french fries, rinse with water and dry in towels
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Roast at 425 on baking sheet for 30-35 minutes (turn after20 minutes)
While fries are cooking, prepare:
1 1/2 pounds of cod, cut into 6 pieces
And one bowl for each of the following:
1 cup of flour
1 egg + splash of water
1 cup flour = 1 cup fine bread crumb (seasoned with kosher salt, black pepper, dried savory)
Heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet over a medium high heat.
In assembly line fashion, dredge fish in flour, eggwash and seasoned flour/crumb mixture.
Add breaded fish one piece at a time to the hot oil, being careful not to splash your fingers.
Cook until golden brown and flip.
For a quick tarter sauce, combine
1 cup mayo
1 Tbsp lemon juice
4-5 capers, minced
1 tsp sweet green relish
a few shakes of malt vinegar
Once fish and fries are done, season immediately with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Squeeze the fish with lemon before serving.