Obviously, good fish and good fried potatoes, perhaps with flavourful seasoning, but what else?
I have embarked on a bit of a quest, ordering fish and chips at various restaurants and trying to determine which is best. While it does prevent me from ordering other equally potentially scrumptious dishes, I have decided that it has been an overall successful venture. I started by tasting the various editions of fish and chips in my local area, but I soon decided to branch out to every restaurant that I ventured into over the summer that had that item on the menu. I will eventually do a comparison of these restaurants, but first, I must determine what actually constitutes a “good” fish and chips.
At the very least, the fish has to be cooked well and not covered in too much batter. There definitely should be more fish than batter! Where it is cod or haddock or halibut or any other type of fish is really up to individual taste. Furthermore, the fries/chips should be hefty and actually taste like potato, with more seasoning than salt. (Alternatively, the seasoning and salt could be added by the customer to individual taste.) Lemon needs to be served on the side, as well as tartar sauce.
These are all fairly basic aspects of fish and chips. Aside from these, the side dish(es) matters. Obviously, a chip truck or fast food-style location can get away with no sides. It is called “fish and chips”, after all. But a restaurant, particularly one serving the dish as an entrée, needs to bring more to the plate.
So far, my favourite side dish still has to be mushy peas. Something vegetable goes well with the fish and chips. (Yes, chips are fried potatoes, but those are not strictly vegetables.) The side of choice in North America seems to be coleslaw. I admit that I am not a fan of coleslaw, hence why mushy peas were such a welcome relief. But there are lots of varieties of coleslaw, some of which are almost edible and taste vaguely of vegetables. Vegetables definitely complement the rest of the dish, adding to the meal’s overall flavour (and nutrition content). They also make it feel more like an entrée. I would prefer some different choices of vegetable – even canned or thawed mixed veggies, depending on the restaurant in question – to break the monopoly of coleslaw.
I admit, the best item is the drink – the marking of a good fish and chips is ultimately how well does it go with any alcoholic beverage, depending on the customer’s choice, and how well does it stand up without alcohol? Any good fish and chips must be able to be enjoyed with any drink including just water.
In fact, especially with just water.
So far, the tally for “best” is:
Best chips: still waiting on that…
Best overall: still waiting on that too…