The origins of fish and chips are quite interesting simply because of the fact that the dish is actually a combination of two cultures. It's believed that the idea of battered and fried fish actually came from Western Sephardic Jewish immigrants who came to England from Holland. It would have been common (and still is, in some households) to eat fried fish for Shabbat dinner, and, originally, the batter would have been simple - just flour and water. It's believed that this is where the idea of fried fish came from in England, who took the recipe and turned it into somewhat of an unofficial national pub dish.

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During the 1860s, more fish and chip shops began opening around England, and, as opposed to the origins of fried fish, the origins of chips are unclear. No one is really sure who thought to combine the two but it was done, and by doing so, a national food movement was created. Nowadays, you can get fish and chips all over England and even throughout the U.K., but there are many more questions about it to be answered.

What Kind Of Fish Should Be Used?

Ah, the commonly-debated question for those who opt for making fish and chips at home. While it's true that most any sturdy, white fish can be used, in England, there's really only one fish that's proper: haddock. However, throughout Europe, many restaurants will use cod as it was traditionally done, but haddock holds up much better and produces that tender, flaky fried filet that most people expect with the dish.

Furthermore, haddock has more flavor than traditional cod, which automatically makes it the better choice. The subtle sweetness of the fish makes the entire filet taste buttery and rich, as fish and chips should be.

Malt Vinegar Vs. Tartar Sauce

Traditionally, both of these should be served with fish and chips. However, fish and chips served throughout the U.S. and particularly in New England often get a side of tartar sauce with no malt vinegar. If malt vinegar does happen to be served, it's just that much more authentic. For those who are traditional tartar sauce people when it comes to dipping their fish, the advice is this: try the malt vinegar. Malt vinegar is not nearly as strong as white or red wine vinegar and has a subtle richness to it that enhances the fish, while also cutting through any potential heaviness from the batter and frying process.

This, accompanied with a squeeze of lemon, is a truly unbeatable combination and the only true, authentic way to eat the dish. Save the tartar sauce as an afterthought or to dip the chips in... we won't tell anyone. As far as the type of tartar sauce to have with fish and chips, only one thing needs to be said: it's always better when made from scratch.

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What To Drink With Fish And Chips

Most people think that when they walk into a pub and order fish and chips, a nice, cold pint is the best thing to drink with it. While this isn't entirely untrue, there are many other drinks that go well with the dish and even serve to enhance and enrich the flavors. The next time you order this British specialty, consider getting a glass of sparkling wine. The effervescence from the wine will also help to cut through any richness and the lightness won't overpower the flavor of the fish.

In the same vein, champagne is also a great choice for fish and chips, believe it or not - the subtle sweetness in a glass of champagne will bring out the subtle sweetness in the fish, while the tart dryness will serve as a neutral base, allowing the rest of the flavor to come to the forefront. For anyone who doesn't enjoy sparkling wine or champagne, Sauvignon Blanc is a great choice with any fish, not just fried fish.

What's The Deal With Chips?

Chips in England shouldn't be confused with what are referred to as crisps. In England, crisps are what would be 'chips' in the U.S., which can definitely be a bit misleading if you're not familiar with the terminology.

In the U.S., English 'chips' are what are called fries or, more commonly, potato wedges. In the U.S., fish and chips might be served with actual chips even though this is not traditional. Restaurants serving authentic fish and chips will include a side of roasted or fried potato wedges.

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