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Fish and chips is a classic British dish which includes battered deep fried fish and fried potatoes. There are numerous variations on this dish, but the basic components remain the same. In addition to being popular in Britain, they are also widely consumed in many other regions of the world, especially those with coastlines and active fisheries. Seafood restaurants often stock fish and chips, as do pubs, and it is also possible to make them at home.
The classic fish used in Britain is cod, a whitefish with very dense, flavorful flesh. Depletion of the global cod fishery has led to replacement of cod with other fish like snapper. Essentially any sort of dense fish will do, and the fish should ideally be fresh. The batters used are also quite varied, from delicate Japanese style tempura to more heavy beer batters.
The “chips” which accompany fish and chips are better known to some people as “fries” or “French fries.” Chips can be incredibly varied, depending on the region and the cook, ranging from classic shoestring potatoes to big wedges of country style potatoes. Depending on taste, the potato skin may be left on or off, and the fries may even be battered in some regions.
Oil and malt vinegar are the traditional accompaniments to fish and chips, although some people also like ketchup. In some regions, tartar sauce is offered as a dip for the fish, and wedges of lemon for extra flavor are not uncommon. It is also possible to see this dish with more unusual sauces and garnishes, such as ponzu sauce for Asian-style fish and chips.
Depending on how it is prepared, the dish can be light and flavorful, or heavy and greasy. The greasiness level is impacted by things like the frying temperature, the type of oil used, how long the fish and chips are allowed to drain, and how crowded the fryer is. In some regions, heavier grease levels are actually actively sought out, while in others, people try to make them as light as possible.
This dish is a quintessential take-out dish in Britain, where fish and chips may be served wrapped in a newspaper. Many seaside towns around the world offer them as a take-away dish in addition to allowing people to sit and eat, and some stands have become famous for their food. If you happen to be visiting a region of the world where fish and chips are common, ask a local for recommendations, as poorly prepared versions can make a dreary meal.