Pretty much every coastal country town has a fish and chip shop, and more often than not one is indistinguishable from another – they were all built around the same time, are often painted blue or feature blue signage in a familiar script, and have some decorative buoys and fishing nets. Like country pubs, fish and chip shops get handed around among just a handful of operators. The shop is often a strong silent part of the community that seems to capture the laconic sentiment of Australia’s cultural identity.
One of my favourite places in the world is the Dunalley Fish Market in southern Tasmania. Its setting alone is like something on a postcard, but combine that with a fried basket of mixed small fish delicacies and it’s as good as life gets.
Every time I cook fish and chips I have the same thought – it’s effectively just two ingredients and that’s what I love about it.
This recipe sets about standardising one element of the process: the perfect chip. Once you have this under control the rest of the variables, such as fish variety and batter thickness, become a joy to experiment with.
For one reason or other, fish and chips is a meal not often cooked at home. Maybe it’s the idea of the pot of hot oil, or the convenience of the nearby shop. After we photographed this dish I sat down with the remainder of the beer from the batter and ate my afternoon’s work. It made a very pleasant early dinner, and it reminded me that I should make myself fish and chips more often.