Fish and chips is a hearty meal, and famous for being classic British fare. My version uses fried salmon as the fish of choice, and it's a great weeknight comfort meal! It's even more amazing made from scratch.
Why This Recipe Works
Fish and chips get a bad rap for being a heavy and greasy meal, so if you’re looking to avoid that, this salmon fish and chips is the way to go.
The salmon is a lighter, flakier piece of fish, and the light tempura batter is also quite thin and light. When combined, this recipe produces a fully coated, crispy piece of fried fish without caking the fish in a heavy, dense batter mixture.
Tempura batter allows the flavor of the salmon to shine through so you’re not just tasting batter with every bite! This batter also has only two ingredients, so is perfect if you’re not really confident with batter or frying fish.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Salmon - I am using a mild, sockeye salmon from Prince William Sound (read more about Prince William Sound and it's rich waters here), but any mild-flavored fish works like cod, tilapia, or even Opah.
Ice water - the ice water helps the batter crisp up. Do not use hot or room temperature water.
Flour - unbleached all-purpose flour works great in this recipe, so no need for a special flour.
Oil - Use any flavorless oil you usually use for frying. I usually use vegetable or canola oil.
How to Make this Recipe
We will start by making the chips because we will be frying them twice, and placing them in the freezer in between frying.
I like the start by making the chips. Add enough oil to your frying pan so that it is 3 inches deep. I like use a smaller frying pan and fry the chips in batches. Heat the frying oil to about 275F. You can use a candy thermometer or infared thermometer to measure when your oil is hot enough.
Chop the russet potatoes into thick wedges that are about 1/2 to 3/4" thick. Try to get each wedge around the same size.
Next, fry the chips in the oil for about 10 minutes (photo 1). You want them to be soft, but not yet browned. Place them on a wire rack, paper bag, or paper towel to absorb the excess oil (photo 2).
Transfer the chips to the freezer if serving your fish and chips immediately, or the refrigerator if you are serving them the next day.
Make-Ahead Tip: You can fry the french fries the day before and keep them in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them instead of putting them in the freezer.
To finish cooking the chips before serving, make sure you still have enough oil in your pan so it is 3 inches deep. Top up the oil if necessary, and heat to about 350-375F. Fry the chips again for around 5 minutes until they are golden brown and crispy (photo 3).
Season them with salt as you drain the excess oil on a wire rack (link opens in new tab), on a paper bag, or on paper towels (photo 4). Chips done, on to the fish!
Again, make sure you still have enough oil in your pan so that is 3 inches deep. Heat the oil about 350-375F.
You can remove the skin of the salmon (link opens in new tab) or not, It's entirely up to you and your preference. I personally leave the skin on for this recipe since it is easier and doesn't bother me. Season the fish with salt or seasoned salt before you apply the batter.
To make the tempura batter, mix 1 cup of ice water with 1 cup of pastry flour or all-purpose flour with a fork or chopsticks (photo 1 below). Make sure the water is actually ice water to ensure crispiness after frying.
Do not over-mix the batter otherwise it will not be airy enough! The texture of photo 2 below is not wet enough. Photo 3 is just right.
In small batches (I like to do 2 pieces at a time), dip the salmon slices into the batter and then immerse the piece into the hot oil. Cook each piece for 1-2 minutes per side, until the batter is a light golden brown.
Place the fried salmon pieces onto a wire rack, or a plate lined with a paper bag or paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Remove any floating batter in the oil and continue until the whole batch is cooked.
Serve your fried salmon and chips with tartar sauce, ranch, ketchup, or malt vinegar.
Have some batter leftover? Make these tempura fried apples!
Fish & Chips FAQs
Fish and chips is a traditional British meal, eaten out of a cone of greaseproof paper on a Friday night! Classic fish and chips comprise of a big piece of beer-battered cod or plaice and chunky oil-fried chips (what Americans might call steak fries) sprinkled with salt and malt vinegar. It's quite a heavy takeaway treat, but so delicious!
There are a few tried-and-tested accompaniments for fish and chips. They can be served with a lemon wedge (to cut through the fried batter) and some tartar sauce. I also love to serve this with ketchup, ranch, or malt-vinegar. A side of mushy peas is a go-to, or some fresh and crunchy coleslaw.
My favorite batter for salmon is an easy tempura batter, with only two ingredients: flour and water. Make sure the water is actually ice water to ensure crispiness after frying. Simply mix 1 cup of ice water with 1 cup of pastry flour or all-purpose flour with a fork or chopsticks. Only roughly mix or the batter will not be airy. Do not use a whisk.
Frying salmon is easy, as long as you take your time and don't overcrowd your frying pan. First, I prepare my salmon pieces and coat them generously in the batter. You should have a pan of hot oil (375F) ready. In small batches, immerse your coated salmon pieces into the hot oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes, flipping half way to ensure they're crispy all over.
Chips for this dish are the usually big, chunky steak fries that are excellent for dipping in some side sauces! I think chunky wedges like this made with russet potatoes are the best, because you get a great crispy skin on the outside and soft potato on the inside. Having said this, anything goes! If you want to mix it up, you can have French fries, wedges, or even American chips...whatever you're especially in the mood for.
Then try some of these other salmon favorites, or check out all my fish recipes here.
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Fish & Chips
- flavorless oil for frying like canola, vegetable, or sunflower seed
- 3 Russet potatoes large, peeled
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup ice water
- 1 1/2 lbs. salmon Cut into 8-pieces (2-pieces per person) OR opah, cod, or tilapia
- sea salt to taste
- Add enough oil to your pan so it is 3 inches deep. I use a smaller pot and fry in batches. Heat to about 275F. You can use a candy thermometer or infared thermometer.
- Chop the potatoes so they are all the same size, preferably in wedges that are about 1/2 to 3/4" thick.
- Fry the potatoes for about 10 minutes. You want them to be soft, but not yet browned. Drain on a wire rack, paper bag, or paper towel.
- Transfer the fries to the freezer if serving immediately, or the refrigerator if cooking the fish the next day.
- To finish cooking, make sure you still have enough oil in your pan so it is 3 inches deep. Heat to about 350-375F. Fry for 5 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Season with salt as they drain on a wire rack, on a paper bag or on paper towels.
- Make sure you still have enough oil in your pan so it is 3 inches deep. Heat to about 350-375F.
- You can remove the skin of the salmon or not. It is up to you and your preference. I presonally leave it on.* Season the fish with salt or seasoned salt.
- Make the batter: Make sure the water is actually ice water to ensure crispiness after frying. Simply mix 1 cup of ice water with 1 cup of pastry flour or all-purpose flour with a fork or chopsticks. Do not overmix.
- In small batches (I do 2-pieces at a time), dip the fish slices in the batter and immerse into the hot oil. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side until the batter is a light golden brown.
- Place them onto a wire rack, or a plate lined with a paper bag or paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
- Remove floating batter and continue until the whole batch is cooked.
- Serve with tartar sauce, ranch, ketchup, or malt vinegar.
This post was originally published in April of 2018, but was republished with new photos, step by step instructions, and tips July of 2020.