Nfld. & Labrador

It's the food fishery for a reason: A recipe for the ultimate homemade fish and chips

Let chef Mark McCrowe help you make the best fee 'n chee of your life.

Catching a bit of fish this week? Chef Mark McCrowe's got your back

Suddenly, you're the most popular person in town. (John Pike/CBC)

Whether you caught your quota in the summer food fishery or you're gearing up for the fall food fishery this week, you've likely got some flaky white cod that needs cooking and eating.

Let chef Mark McCrowe give you a hand with that. 

Mwah! Mark McCrowe knows exactly what to do with this cod. (John Pike/CBC)

His ultimate fish and chips will transport you right to Freshwater Road in St. John's, at the confluence of the scents wafting from Leo's and Ches's.

And of course, you'll be making your own chips. It's the only way to go.


The Ultimate Fish and Chips

For McCrowe, the maker-or-breaker for any fee 'n chee recipe is the batter. It can't be too thick or too thin, and it definitely needs a good local beer.

Use cod with firm, white flesh that doesn't have a fishy smell. And of course you'll be making your own fries for this one. It's harvest season, so now's the time.

The full details and recipe are right after this how-to video.

Chef McCrowe shows you how to make the ultimate fish and chips. 2:47

1. Prep the fish

Here's what you need:

  • 2 five-ounce portions of fresh cod
  • Sea salt to season
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour

Need a primer on perfectly filleting a fresh cod? No problem.

Chef Mark McCrowe shows you how to fillet fresh cod. 1:52

Once your cod is cut, the trick is to season the fillets with sea salt about a half hour before frying. That will help firm up the flesh, make the finished fillet flakier, and draw out excess moisture. With less water, there's less chance your batter will be soggy.

Once the salted cod sits for 20 or 30 minutes, pat it dry with paper towel to soak up any remaining liquid. Then coat in the flour, shaking off any excess. This will help the batter stick while frying. 

2. Make the batter

Here's what you need:

  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp of baking powder
  • 1.5 bottles of your favourite local beer
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Pour in the beer and whisk it all together. Lumps are perfectly okay, here. The batter should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Dip the fish in the batter and coat well.

Batter up! Want to make great fish and chips? Batter better, says Mark McCrowe. (John Pike/CBC)

3. Fry the fish

Bring on that sweet, sweet sizzle! In the pot of your deep fryer, heat your oil to around 350 degrees. Slowly place the battered fish in the oil and fry for roughly five minutes on each side, or until both sides are golden brown. Beautiful.

4. Make the chips

Here's what you need:

  • 3 russet potatoes, cut in 1.5-inch-long sticks
  • More vegetable oil for more frying
  • Sea salt to season

Put the cut fries in cold, running water and let it run until the water is clear and not murky. Then, strain the fries and pat them dry.

Heat the oil in the deep fryer to about 300 degrees. Plunge the fries into the oil and keep them there until bubbles start to form on the outer layer of each one and they can be easily cracked in half.

At this point, they're cooked, but they haven't taken on any colour. Take the fries out of the oil and crank up the heat to 350 degrees. Then put them back in until they turn a crispy, golden brown.

Making your own fries is the only way to go. (John Pike/CBC)

Then take them out and sprinkle them generously with the sea salt.

5. Make the tartar sauce

Yes, you are going all out. Here's what you need:

  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 kosher pickle, diced
  • 2 ounces of chopped caper berries, plus a tsp of their brine
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp of chopped parsley

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and stir well.

6. Serve it up

A bit of gravy makes everything better, right? (John Pike/CBC)

Lay out your fish and chips on a wood board lined with newspaper. I like to serve mine with savoury dressing and a good homemade gravy. Save a wedge of lemon for the fish and make sure to have some malt vinegar for the fries.

Hello, gorgeous.

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