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Pan Fried Fish and Chips

Enjoy fish and chips at home with this easy homemade pan fried version. Get all of the tips and tricks for the perfect crispy fish and crunchy fries.

a plate of fish and chips next to a plate of chips and a rack of fried fish

Does the thought of frying make you break out into a cold sweat? Don’t let it! I’m walking you through all of the tips and tricks to demystify the process.

If your children like fish sticks, they should enjoy fish and chips. Although the classic version of fish and chips you would get in the UK or Ireland is made with a batter, I’ve chosen to go with a flour coated and pan fried version which is a little easier to make at home.

Using a blend of flour and cornmeal means we can get a crispy and crunchy outside and is a method that is much better suited to pan frying than a liquid batter would be.

You can also easily change up the spices like using Cajun seasoning for a little kick or using lemon pepper for a bit of tanginess.  My kids are always about my lemon pepper oven fries so it’s a go to spice blend in our home.

ingredients in various bowls on a grey marble counter
ingredients shown: flour, cornmeal, pollock, potatoes, black pepper, paprika, and rosemary

Ingredients

Shopping list

  • firm white fish, like pollock
  • potatoes for frying, preferably russets or yukon gold
  • canola or sunflower oil, for frying

Pantry staples:

  • flour
  • cornmeal
  • spices

What is pollock?

Alaskan pollock is a mild white fish that is low in fat and has similar nutritional perks to salmon, tuna, and cod. It is generally cheaper than Pacific cod which makes it a good budget friendly option for a seafood dinner for the family.

If you cannot get pollock, cod is a good substitute along with haddock and halibut.

Which potato is best for frying?

The classic russet potato is my personal favorite for frying. Not only is it one that we generally always have on hand but it’s high starch and low moisture ratio mean it’s a terrific option for frying. 

Oil choice

When frying, you need to use an oil that has a high smoking point. Butter and olive oil have a lower smoking point which means that they will burn and smoke sooner than canola, peanut or sunflower oil.

a collage showing the steps to prep the fish
top left: fish cut into individual sized portion, top right: flour, cornmeal, and spices in a bowl to be mixed, bottom left: dredging the fish in the flour, bottom right: fish pieces dredged and ready to fry

How to make this

  • Dry the fish fillets with kitchen paper and cut them into pieces.
  • In a bowl, mix the spices, flour and cornmeal. Stir well. Set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  • Coat the fish fillets on both sides with the flour mixture and place them in the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes on each side. Place the fried fillets on a rack or on brown paper sacks.
  • Peel the potatoes and cut into ¼” thick fries. Place in cold water for at least 30 minutes. Drain the potatoes and pat dry using paper towels.
  • Heat a Dutch oven, deep skillet, or deep fryer. Put a part of the potatoes in the oil and fry until golden.
  • Continue working in batches until all of the potatoes are cooked.  Season with additional salt to taste.

What to serve with this?

Lemon juice and tartar sauce are popular choices or you can opt for malt vinegar which is the popular choice in the UK and Ireland.

You can also serve a green salad like this mango and mandarin orange salad without the chicken or a fruit one like my honey lime fruit salad. A glass of agua de jamaica (hibiscus tea) would also be a refreshing, slightly sweet drink option.

fried fish pieces sitting on a metal rack

Top Tips

You’ll want two separate pans to cook the fish and chips in for the fastest prep.  If you don’t have two pans, I would cook the potatoes first and keep them warm on a cookie sheet in the oven while you fry the fish since the fish cooks much quicker.

Tricks to getting crispy chips

Soak your cut potatoes for at least 30 minutes in cold water.  You can even prep this further ahead and let them soak overnight!

When you are ready to fry your chips, drain the potatoes and dry them off well on paper towels. A dry surface on the potato will lead to a crispy chip. If you want, you can even toss the dried potatoes with a bit of cornflour right before frying.

Maintaining a good oil temperature is another key element when frying.  A low temperature leads to more absorption of oil and greasy food. Too high and the outside will burn before the inside is cooked. 

Use a thermometer to double check the temperature as you are cooking and avoid overloading the fryer. The fries should be cooked at around 375℉.

I use my Thermoworks thermopen to periodically check the temperature of the oil.

Tips for perfect fried fish

Just like potatoes, fish should be patted dry before coating the fillets in the flour mixture.  Wet fish can lead to soggy fried fish.

A heavy bottom pan like a cast iron skillet will distribute the heat more evenly when frying your pollock and leave the pan uncovered. Covering the pan keeps the heat up but ends up steaming the fish which turns the crunchy outside soggy.

You will also need to watch the oil level of the pan as well and be ready to add a little more, especially if you are frying in batches. You want there to be enough oil so that the bottom of the skillet is completely covered.

Also, don’t be tempted to move the fish around while it’s cooking.  Moving it around too much while it is cooking can lead to it tearing or falling apart and it might get stuck to the pan.  Once it has fried sufficiently it should naturally release from the bottom of the pan.

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RECIPE

a fork holding a piece of fish next to a plate of food

Pan fried fish and chips

Enjoy fish and chips at home with this easy homemade version that is pan fried instead of deep fried.
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: British
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 1480kcal
Author: Jade Jones

Ingredients

For fish:

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cornmeal
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon rosemary
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 pound white fish fillets like Pollock (0.45 kg)
  • 2 cups sunflower oil 500 ml

For potatoes:

  • 1 pound potatoes like russets or yukon gold
  • 2 cups sunflower oil 500 ml
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

For the fish:

  • Dry the fish fillets with kitchen paper. This is important to avoid getting mushy fish. Cut them into pieces as desired. Add salt to the fillets and set aside.
  • In a bowl, mix the spices and stir. Then add the flour and cornmeal. Stir well. Set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat to between 350-375℉.
  • Coat the fish fillets on both sides with the flour mixture and place them in the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes on each side. Place the fried fillets on a rack or on brown paper sacks.

For the fries:

  • Peel the potatoes and cut into ¼” thick fries. Place in cold water for at least 30 minutes or soak overnight. Drain the potatoes and pat dry using paper towels.
  • Heat a Dutch oven, deep skillet, or deep fryer with oil over high heat to 375℉.
  • Put a part of the potatoes in the oil and fry until golden. Continue working in batches until all of the potatoes are cooked. Season with additional salt to taste.

Notes

Use a thermometer to double check the temperature as you are cooking and avoid overloading the fryer. The fries should be cooked at around 375℉. The fish should be cooked at around 350-375℉.
Watch the oil level of the pan as well and be ready to add a little more, especially if you are frying in batches. You want there to be enough oil so that the bottom of the skillet is completely covered.
Also, don’t be tempted to move the fish around while it’s cooking.

Nutrition

Calories: 1480kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 147g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 38mg | Sodium: 45mg | Potassium: 586mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 84IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 2mg
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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Great recipe recommendation. We love Wild Alaska Pollock, as well. If you’re ever interested in collaborating, please let us know. We raise awareness for this sustainably-sourced, nutritious fish. We’re glad people like you are out here and eating Wild Alaska Pollock!

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