Golden Poppies our State Wildflower

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fish and Chips ..a bit of Lancashire history, Recipes; Tempura batter, Victorian Pineapple-Apple Fritters..The first North of England Fast Food I ever ate

I was raised on Fish and Chips, which my mother usually purchased on Fridays or sometimes as a special treat, on Saturdays.

The Fish and Chip shops were "temples" of polished chrome and glass, with the air thick with aromas of steaming Steak & Kidney puddings, pans of mushy peas and heavy deep vats of boiling fat (solid fat was used in those days 1950's Britain, usually a mix of beef dripping and lard).
They were generally owned by a husband and wife team and operated out of what would have been the front room of their home.
The husband did most of the manual work while the wife served the customers.
The only condiments offered were salt and malt vinegar.
These were also the days before the invention of Styrofoam trays so the fish and chips were wrapped in parchment/greaseproof  paper folded into a bag for easy eating on the street or wrapped in newspaper for carrying home.

The fish were usually fillets of Atlantic cod or hake ( also known as Silver Hake)..later on the questionable Fish cake arrived.

The batter was always crisp and crunchy and the chips nicely soft and very hot.
These are not the pre cooked, skinny shaped and processed French fries, these are thick cut potatoes, freshly cut that day. Stored in enamel buckets of salted water, that were drained and quickly tossed in boiling fat, & cooked until they turned a golden brown in one frying.
Then shaken into a drained 'holding pen"..salt being only added when they were being wrapped for sale, and then, only at the customers request.

The fish and chip shops were popular by workers at local Cotton Spinning mills.
Since the Industrial Revolution, had brought American grown cotton aka King Cotton, to our shores.It was discovered that the local water was nice and soft..which made the cotton manufacturing, a great product..some of the World's best "Egyptian' cotton towels and sheets were manufactured in Chorley Mills.
Fish and chips meant they could have a nutritious hot meal when they finished their long shifts..some Mill girls brought their own, large enamel bowls & kitchen towel to cover to the Chip Shop before they began a shift and then picked them up fully loaded  with their order at either lunch ( Northern dinner) time or Dinner ( NorthernTeatime)

At Home Cooking

The chips are best made from starchy potatoes.
THINLY peel then and then cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges/sticks and allow to soak in well salted cold water for about 4 hours.
Drain very well.

They are fried in batches, in  deep saucepans ( aka chip pans) filled with boiling fat or oil today use grape seed or peanut oil as they behave best at very high temps. or solid vegetable fat.
The fat has to be at least 4 inches deep, with the same amount of height free to the top of the pan rim to allow for the oil to boil, rise and spit when the fresh potatoes are added. (many home fires have been caused by boiling fat, overflowing the chip pan & catching fire).

Fry the potatoes at high heat, stirring gently with a wire spatula (spider) occasionally. (the old fashioned chip pans had a fitted wire basket with a long handle so they could be shaken as they fried).
remove to a well drained area..wire rack over a cookie sheet...serve immediately with salt and malt vinegar.


The cod fillet is cut into 6-8 ozs portions, and is best soaked overnight in salted clean fresh water ( this is because, much of the fresh cod contains worms, naturally that live among the flesh, which have to be removed before cooking..the salt in the water draws them out), hake can be purchased and cut and used straight away.

Season some all purpose flour with salt and white ground pepper


in a medium bowl, using a wooden spoon NOT a whisk, stir together
4 cups/parts all purpose flour
then gradually add
 5 -6 cups/parts ice cold water, 
stirring to avoid lumps and working the gluten in the flour.
Add   1/2 cup (1/2 a part) malt vinegar
1/2 cup (1/2 part) vegetable oil, and stir well to combine
Salt and pepper to taste

The batter should have the thickness double cream..it should drop slowly from a wooden spoon and coat the back of the spoon. (THIS IS TRUE OF ALL THESE BATTERS ON THIS PAGE)

Cover with a cloth and allow to rest for 30 mins.

To prepare:

Dredge the fish fillets in the seasoned flour, and set aside, shaking off excess.

Stir the batter to check the Constancy, and drop one at a time a fish fillet in the batter to coat, gently remove the excess by scraping against the side of the batter bowl.
Very carefully place the battered fish fillet in the deep boiling fat, of the "Chip Pan".
avoiding burning fingers and do not drop in or it will splash up. Put the fish in  aiming 'away from you".

Do in small batches..the fillets will float to the surface when they are fully cooked. 2-3 mins.

After every batch, remove and loose particles from the pan, and allow the fat to get hot again.


any white fish, 
also fresh salmon (best thing to do with salmon/any oily fish, is first to sprinkle with fresh lemon juice and then gently wash it off with water, pat dry and then proceed as for hake, this removes any oily after taste..the same method can be done with fresh tuna).
Clam strips
Lobster tails,
Plaice & Skate wings
Goujons of sole 

Other batters:

4 parts flour
milk to make a batter ..using a wooden spoon
salt to taste

this is best for slices of raw potatoes or apple fritters

Tempura batter for vegetables and shrimp
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil ( grape seed  or peanut)
3/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup cornstarch

In a medium bowl mix all the dry ingredients, add the vegetable oil, stirring with a wooden spoon, and gradually add the water, stirring into a smooth batter.
The batter should coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Make sure all the vegetables are lightly dusted with cornstarch before dipping in this batter, and deep frying

Mushrooms may be cooked whole, sweet potatoes cut into slices & most other veggies cut into bite sized pieces & etc.
Shrimp should be peeled and de veined

This is also excellent for small pieces of any fish fillet

For larger pieces of food allow the batter to have some time to dry on the surface a little.

Pineapple-Apple Fritter Batter..this is a Victorian recipe

the fruit slices should be dry before dredging with flour and then batter

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp milk or fresh cream
1 egg yolk 
2 egg whites
pinch of salt
3/4 cup warm water..not hot.

In a medium bowl mix the flour, egg yolk and pinch of salt.
Stir in in the melted butter and milk .
Gradually add the water.
Allow to rest for 1 hour

Then fold in the the whipped egg whites and dip in the  the dredged fruit pieces and deep fry until golden brown..sprinkle with powdered sugar and and serve with a fruit sauce/ice cream.

It's FRY DAY..Friday...

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