Although it's thought that fish and chips as we know it now originated in nineteenth-century Britain, some people reckon that chips have their roots (no pun intended) in seventeenth-century Belgium. One story goes that a popular food in Belgium at this time was small, deep-fried fish, but when they couldn't get fish, they'd cut potatoes into small 'fish-like' pieces and fry them instead.
If you're frying your chips, then check out these tips, from Quayside owner and manager Stuart Fusco. All these tips will still apply (except for the deep-frying bits) if you're cooking your chips in the oven, which is obviously the healthier option. I find that drying the chips well after soaking and then cooking helps them crisp up a lot after they're cooked.
Tips for Making the Perfect Chips:
Make sure you cut your chips into equal pieces so they cook evenly – the thinner they are the more fat they will absorb so thick cut are best. Stuart reckons Maris Piper are the best potato variety for chips.
Rinse under cold water so you can remove excess starch. Even better, soak them overnight in water and pat dry – this means your chips will be lovely and crispy once fried.
Heat a deep-fat fryer, or carefully add your chosen oil to a heavy-bottomed pan (we believe beef dripping gives the best flavour!) and use a thermometer to check it’s the right temperature – 130C is best. Don’t leave unattended.
Using a slotted spoon pop your chips in and stir gently. Fry for around 10 minutes, or until cooked through – you want them crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle, so don’t wait until they’re brown! Remove and drain on a few sheets of kitchen towel.
When you’re ready to eat, reheat the oil to around 180-190ºC and lower your chips in and cook for a further 4 minutes, or until golden. Serve with a dash of vinegar and a sprinkle of salt.
If you prefer to cook your chips in the oven instead, follow the preparation advice above but spread out your chips in one layer on a tray lined with a little greaseproof paper. Bake for 25 minutes until golden and crisp. For more advice, check out my post on making great oven-cooked chips.