The Absolute Best Types Of Fish To Use For Classic Fish And Chips

plate of fish and chips
plate of fish and chips - logofix/Shutterstock

While Americans opt to pair a cold beer with pizza, burgers, and tacos, fish and chips is British pub fare that's increasingly more popular stateside. After all, light, flakey fish battered and fried to light and crispy perfection and served with a side of thick cut fries would be hard to pass up. A classic fish and chips recipe tends to use cod or haddock, popular saltwater fish available fresh in the U.K., but we consulted an expert in the U.S. to see if there are other types of fish better suited to the dish.

Our expert is John Warr, executive chef at Firelake Cocktail Bar & Grill at the Radisson Blu in the famous Mall of the America, who offers fish and chips for lunch, dinner, and bar snacks. Warr says, "Cod is an excellent saltwater fish to use," in keeping with the traditional choice for a classic fish and chips recipe. However, Warr's restaurant is in the landlocked Twin Cities region, so he opts for "using the freshwater Red Lake walleye because of its flakiness and it fries easily in beer batter."

A liquid batter like beer batter is typical of fish and chips, but we also asked for Chef Warr's opinion about a dry crust like a cornmeal dredging. He again favored walleye. Warr said, "Walleye is firm but flakey, which allows the batter to hold the fish together but still falls apart in your mouth with the first bite."

Read more: 15 Different Ways To Cook Fish

Characteristics For Tasty Fried Fish And Chips

fish and chips with lemon wedge
fish and chips with lemon wedge - Shanewthompson/Getty Images

Warr's description of the red lake walleye as flakey and firm is crucial; ultra hot oil and a thick wet or dry batter requires a type of fish that's sturdy enough to hold its shape as it fries. As a freshwater fish, the walleye has a mild, sweet flavor, tending to lack the fishiness more prevalent in saltwater fish like haddock or whiting. That said, white flakey fish tend to have the mildest flavor, whether they're saltwater or freshwater. Cod is famous for its mild flavor and delicate flake.

Chef Warr chose the walleye because it's the freshest option, native to the Great Lakes region in which his restaurant is located. He emphasizes the importance of using fresh fish because it optimizes flavor and batter adhesion. Fish is much more delicate than chicken, beef, or pork, so it's especially important for fried fish to be fresh and firm. The walleye is firmer than cod, making it a great option for both beer batter and a heavier, more temperamental cornmeal crust. Cod is medium-firm with a more tender flake, so it's more suited for a smoother beer batter.

Chef Warr also weighed in on the best type of beer for batter, advocating for "amber style with slight hints of hops combined with a [subtle] maltiness." Like his choice of fish, Warr recommends using a local product, which in his case is Minnesota-native: "Schell's Firebrick Vienna-style Amber Lager."

Read the original article on Tasting Table.