Pickled onions add bite here, whether they're homemade or not. Gherkins of pickled Greek peppers make a nice alternative.
- 1 kg starchy potatoes, such as russet Burbank, cut into 1cm-thick chips
- Cottonseed or vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 4 rock ling fillets (about 150gm each; see note)
- AÏoli and lemon wedges, to serve
- 300 ml white wine vinegar
- 100 ml malt vinegar
- 100 gm brown sugar
- 4 allspice berries
- 4 whole cloves
- 4 dried bay leaves
- 6-8 pickling onions, peeled
- 350 ml soda water
- 20 ml vodka (optional; see note)
- 100 gm plain flour, plus extra, seasoned, for dusting
- 100 gm rice flour
- 1For pickled onions, combine vinegars, sugar, allspice, cloves and bay with 300ml water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add onions, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until softened (10-12 minutes). Cool,then refrigerate until required.
- 2Add chips to a large saucepan of salted boiling water, and cook until edges break apart at a light touch (5 minutes). Drain, cool briefly, then lay out evenly on paper towels and refrigerate to dry (1-2 hours).
- 3For batter, pour soda water and vodka into a bowl, add flours and mix gently by hand (it's okay for the batter to have some lumps).
- 4Heat oil in a deep saucepan or a deep-fryer to 180°C. Coat fish fillets in flour, shaking off excess, then dip into batter, coating the fish evenly. Deep-fry fish, turning occasionally, until crisp and golden, and centre reaches 50°C on a thermometer (6-8 minutes; be careful, hot oil will spit). Remove fish with a slotted spoon and keep warm on a wire rack with a tray underneath in a low oven. Deep-fry chips in batches, turning occasionally, until golden and crisp (7-9 minutes). Drain on paper towels and season with a good amount of salt. Serve fish and chips with pickled onions,aïoli and lemon wedges.
If rock ling isn't available, substitute another firm white fish, such as pink ling or barramundi. Adding vodka to the batter helps it become extra crisp.