fish and chips by Josh Niland
Josh Niland, the fastidious talent behind fish-specialist hotspot Saint Peter in Sydney, shares his recipe for classic fish and chips.
Fish and chips
“There are few other dishes that come with so much expectation and nostalgia. It’s so important at Saint Peter that the fish and chips get put on a pedestal as being a dish of importance and luxury,” says Chef Josh.
“Gone are the days of having whishy-washy defrosted white fish in limp pale batter and frozen chips. The key to fantastic fish and chips is obviously a great fish that’s suitable to be coated in a batter and deep fried. Often that is the one thing that is overlooked. Fresh pink ling is a perfect fish for battering as it is very robust, has a dense compact flesh with little sinews, a good amount of fat, sweet-tasting flesh, few pin bones and can be readily found.
The batter is also hugely important. Having worked with Heston Blumenthal as a stage, I got to see his fish and chips and was blown away by the logic of using vodka in a batter … it just makes sense: more alcohol content means it burns away faster, resulting in a very crisp and, most importantly, delicious batter.
Fish and chips would be incomplete without a good tartare sauce and our tartare made with yoghurt instead of mayonnaise is a much cleaner, lighter sauce perfect for summer!”
Follow Chef Josh’s recipe for perfect fish and chips. You’ll need to start this recipe a day ahead to soak the chips.
Prep time 30 mins, cook 10 mins (plus soaking, drying)
- 600 gm pink ling fillet, thickly sliced (7cm x 3cm), drained on paper towel
- Dill pickles and lemon cheeks, to serve
- Potato chips
- 1.5 kg Sebago potatoes, scrubbed clean, skin on, cut into 1cm thick chips, soaked overnight in cold water and drained
- Cottonseed oil for deep-frying
- Salt and vinegar onion rings
- 500 ml (2 cups) malt vinegar
- 80 gm sea salt
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 4 onions, peeled and thickly sliced
- 50 gm rice flour, plus extra for dusting
- Yoghurt tartare sauce
- 300 gm natural yoghurt
- 2 large golden shallots, finely chopped
- 80 gm cornichons, finely chopped
- 80 gm tiny capers in brine, finely chopped
- 400 gm rice flour
- 210 gm self-raising flour
- 10 gm baking powder
- 345 ml vodka, preferably with 37% alcohol
- 45 gm honey
- 550 ml beer, such as draught beer VB
1 For potato chips, preheat oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 140C. Cook chips in batches without colouring until potato blisters and small bubbles begin to appear along the surface (9-10 minutes). Drain and cool and dry on a wire rack over a tray in the fridge (1-2 hours).
2 For salt and vinegar onion rings, bring vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove tiny centre rings from onion and reserve for another use. Gently separate outer rings into individual rings. Cook onion rings in two batches in the simmering pickle liquid until just softened (1 minute). Remove onion rings into a bowl using a slotted spoon. Repeat until all onion rings are cooked.
3 For yoghurt tartare sauce, combine ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate covered in the fridge until serving.
4 For batter, combine flours and baking powder in a large bowl. Whisk vodka and honey in a jug to combine. Add vodka mixture and beer to flour and whisk to a result similar to double cream. If the batter becomes too thick add a little more beer.
5 Preheat oven to 120C and preheat oil to180C. Deep fry chips in batches until very crisp and golden (5-6 minutes; be careful as hot oil may spit). Drain on absorbent paper and season with fine table salt. Place in low oven on an oven tray lined with baking paper to keep warm while you fry the rings and fish.
6 Dust onion rings lightly in rice flour, then coat in batter and carefully lower onion into the oil in batches so that the batter puffs up before the ring has a chance to sink, then deep fry until light golden brown and crisp (1-2 minutes; be careful as hot oil may spit), then season with salt and keep warm in oven.
7 Dust fish lightly in rice flour, coat in batter. Carefully place fish fillet into the oil and fry until golden brown and cooked through (2 minutes; you may need to turn fish over midway through the cooking for even colouring).
Serve immediately with yoghurt tartare and pickles.
Drink suggestion: Steam Ale, Victoria
Thank you Josh! Find here his superb interview.