When it comes to fried foods, there are two foods that go hand-in-hand ~ Fish and Chips. When I traveled to England, finding fabulous Fish and Chips was right up there with seeing Stonehenge and Big Ben.
On my first trip, I found a hole-in-the-wall restaurant near the White Cliffs of Dover. They served us a cod filet so big it didn’t even fit on the plate.
During another trip to the UK, my family ate at a restaurant in Windsor that specialized in the traditional English dish.
Making the fish at home is so quick and easy. The more challenging part of this combination is the chips. But having lived in Belgium for two years, I can’t tout the English Chips as being the best, because Belgium’s Frites beat them hands down.
Many people think that French Fries (as Americans call them) were created in France. But according to the Friet Museum in Bruges, Belgium, fried potatoes were first made in the 17th century by poor residents who fished for their food. When the rivers froze up and fish were unavailable, they fried potatoes instead.
So why do American’s call them French Fries instead of Belgian Fries? Legend has it that during WWI, some American Soldiers were deployed to France with Belgian Soldiers. The Belgians treated the American officers to dinner where they served the fried potatoes. Because the Belgians spoke French, the name French Fries made its way to the states.
Belgium doesn’t have many fast food restaurants, but they do have quite a few friteries~food carts that sell cones of fries doused in mayonnaise served with a little fork.
And in Belgium, it’s not only okay to double dip, it’s a requirement. Not in the sauce, but in the grease.The Pommes Frites (that’s French for fried potatoes) are pre-fried once and then fried a second time to order, so they are always hot and fresh.
According to my Belgian friends and the owners of the Friet Museum, there are four secrets to Pommes Frites: 1) the potato 2) the cut 3) the lard and 4) frying twice.
They recommend the Bintje potato because it’s softer and yields that creamy potato center. As for the cut, it’s important each fry is the same thickness, so they cook evenly. Some prefer the reliability of a french fry cutter, while others cut them by hand.
As for the lard, Belgians traditionally use animal fat from sheep, beef or pork. But more and more people are turning to vegetable grease as a healthier alternative.
Lastly, and most importantly, the fries must be fried twice at different temperatures. The first dip at 300 degrees F cooks the fries on the inside. The second dip at 350 degrees F gives them the nice golden crisp on the outside.
For today’s recipe, I cheated a bit. Although I have a nice potato cutter, I experimented with fingerling potatoes. They are smaller and easier to cut. Simply cut one potato in half vertically, and then cut it in half again. I also fudged on the grease and used canola oil. But the step I didn’t cheat on was the double dip. Bon appétit!
- 2 lbs. Cod filets
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 12-oz. bottle beer
- STP (kosher Salt, Tony’s, black Pepper)
- Canola Oil
Cut the cod filets into strips. Season both sides with STP. Dust both sides with flour.
Mix the beer and flour in a large bowl.
In a large frying pan, heat about 1-inch of oil to 350 degrees F. Dip the filets into the batter and then slowly dip the filets into the grease. Fry for 4-5 minutes, until golden. Flip and fry 3-4 minutes, until golden.
Remove to a paper towel-lined pan and season with salt. Serve with malt vinegar.
- Fingerling potatoes
- Canola Oil
Cut the fingerling potatoes in half vertically, and then cut in half again. Soak in a bowl of cold water for about 15 minutes to remove the starch.
Drain the potatoes and pat dry with a paper towel. It’s important the fries are as dry as possible.
In a large frying pan, heat about 1-inch of oil to 300 degrees F. Place about 10 potatoes into the oil and cook until the fries start to float.
Remove them to a paper towel-lined pan and allow them to rest for at least 10 minutes. Continue cooking all of the potatoes this way.
Crank up the heat to 350 degrees F. Place about 10 pre-cooked potatoes into the oil and cook until slightly golden brown.
Remove them to a paper towel-lined pan and season with salt. Serve with mayonnaise or your dip of choice.
Oh and I did make it to Stonehenge and Big Ben, too.