Homemade fish n' chips - tips for a good batter

It's one of those dishes that always tastes best fresh from the fryer with a sea-breeze in your hair. Sometimes though, you have the craving for fish n' chips miles from the nearest takeaway. For those who haven't given up on the perfect homemade fish n' chips - some tips for a good batter.

First of all, don't even think about eggs. They have no place in a fish n' chips batter recipe unless you like your fish to be encased in a soggy sponge-cake. Flour, seasoning and some kind of liquid are your only requirements.

Delia Smith recommends half milk and half water for the batter, and a 50-50 ratio to the flour. This gives a light and crispy texture, and a neutral batter that needs plenty of tartare, ketchup or vinegar once cooked.

Beer is an excellent ingredient, replacing all or some of the water in a batter. Light hoppy beers or lagers give the batter a fluffy finish, introducing those little air pockets that crisp up so beautifully.

Use a dash of baking powder. This reacts to the heat of the fat and imparts that elusive, but delicious, crispiness that characterises the best fish n' chips.

With apologies to vegetarians, many experts agree that the best fish n' chips are those fried in beef dripping. How much of this is down to the familiarity of that beefy taste from our childhood fish suppers is not clear, but certainly the temperature achieved by beef fat does seem conducive to making batter perfectly crisp.

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