Fish & Chips: Paleo?


it’s simply the case that not a single one of your way back ancestors ever partook of the moist, crispy goodness.


It’s obvious and elementary, Watson. The printing press had yet to be invented. Thus, no newsprint. Thus, nothing in which to wrap fish & chips. Thus, no such thing as fish & chips. Even Nigeepoo can tell you that.

So the question is, can you make it better, and not suffer the typical OMG aftermath of the combo of machinery lubricant fried batter, fried potatoes, and tons of malt vinegar and tartar sauce to make it palatable and to make up for overcooked, dry cod—all whilst the batter is plenty moist with oxidized soy oil?

Elementary, my dear Watson. Observe.

First, pick your gluten. I chose the beer, less than a bottle (thanks dad; 4 of 6 still in the fridge) and used Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour (made up of garbanzos and favas; no whiff of Chianti).

The batter is brainless. Just enough flour you think you’ll need. Add a teaspoon of baking soda. Get the whisk and stir as you pour a bottle of beer until it’s…BATTER! Done.

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You know what I hate? I hate fucking idiots who’ve been cooking fish & chips for years and still can’t beat their way out of a greasy newsprint. Ever get a “fish & chips” where you’re like, “what in the holy fuck of God is this shit? Did I order dumplings? I don’t think I did, because I’m not so fucking stupid as to think a lump of milk moistened white flour dropped in a deep fryer or boiling chicken stock qualifies as ‘food.'”

Yea, I know. You’ve thought exactly that.

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It’s Working

The chips are on a cookie sheet in the oven at 500. Lightly coated with melted coconut oil, sea salted. 12 minutes at 400, flip ’em and turn it up to 500 for the last 12.

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The fish is as you see. I’m using high oleic sunflower oil, my go-to for high-heat applications. It’s like 70% monounsaturated (very unlike standard sunflower oil super high in n-6 PUFA) and has a super high smoke point (which I read as: oxidation…but I may be wrong and stupid and I could use olive oil but this has no imparted flavor and if I want olive flavor I’ll just add olives and…that’s all).

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You know what else I absolutely hate about those who always ruin fish (Cod—God—in the application), in order to serve you fried batter and potatoes with dried fish? They don’t know how to cook it. I’m convinced deep friers were invented for idiots—both for the “cooks” and the consumers who’ll settle for anything crispy. Here’s how that stupidity goes: put it in and when it stops bubbling, it’s absolutely done. It’s safe, too, because no bacteria could have survived the heat—much less the heat-induced desiccation. Fish cooks damn quick in almost any application. Therefore, presence of mind is called for.

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Time to Eat

I didn’t have time to make a tartar sauce, so Trader Joe had to step in. But anyway, seriously, the very first time in my life I’ve done fish & chips and my wife told me they were the best she ever had (she says nothing when she no likey). Me too, and it goes back to what I said before. I realized how the fish is always sacrificed for the sake of the damned batter—fucking deep fried white flour.

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Fish, and, oh yea, a little batter

I surprised myself even, just kinda winging it in the frier. About 2 minutes on one side, 1-2 minutes on the other and…Jesus I hope the fish is done.

It was, and even the thickest piece.

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Voi-La (Look at THAT shit)

It was epiphany. I doubt I’ll ever order fish & chips anywhere again because compared to this standard I set on the cuff and while running in place on a given afternoon, all battered and fried fish is cooked to fucking dry death by comparison. And sitting here 3 hours later, I’m not running for the baking soda to stir in water to dose the nuclear heartburn reaction.

That’s all.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. chyara on May 21, 2013 at 23:24

    I think i miss Malt vinegar now.. lol
    I will have to try this!

  2. David Nikoley on May 22, 2013 at 01:57

    I’m always looking for that place that makes perfect Fish and Chips and does not exist. I will be trying this out. Thanks for putting up the recipe Bro. See you Friday

  3. Paul Halliday on May 22, 2013 at 03:12

    Huge fun!

    Up here in Northern Britain, we still have loads of ‘Chippies’ who fry in beef dripping. Yes, they use wheat flour in the batter, but I’m still happy to eat it … traditionally.

    By traditionally, I mean, cracking off the batter and eating just the fish inside. The batter is not food, never was intended as, and is simply there to protect the fish from the intense heat of the fryer. The fish should steam in its own juices, encased in the batter. The same is so for meat covered with pastry. Again, the pastry would traditionally have been cut off and discarded, the meat within being the meal.

    I’m perfectly happy with Fish & Chips every now and again. Paleo? Not on your Grok!

    • G on May 8, 2019 at 15:58


      Any other sources to confirm this? I find it very interesting. A good batter tastes great but this makes so much sense.



  4. Namu on May 22, 2013 at 03:13

    One word for the fish: juicy !

  5. Jack on May 22, 2013 at 03:35

    When I was eating SAD, I used to go to this place and eat all you can eat and chips. Best meals ever. Must have ate a whole bottle of tarter sauce easily. Looking at these food porn pictures, made so fucken envious of you.

    Richard – you are one fucken lucky bastard! Good for you!

    When my gluten free wife is out of town, I”m going to make this recipe. Thanks!

  6. Ash Simmonds on May 22, 2013 at 04:00

    Here’s one that’s perhaps a little more “paleo” – the girl still insisted on using *some* flour though:

    I used salmon and was looking to make a nice crusty coating, but noted afterward that it actually ended up very much like pancake batter and would probably suit well to deep-frying.

    As to the oil to use, I’ve not heard of this oleic sunflower oil stuff, but I’m still reticent to use any plant oils in more than trace amounts. Have you tried ghee? I use it for cooking popcorn now and then, otherwise I’d stick to lard/tallow/etc.

  7. Nigel Kinbrum on May 22, 2013 at 04:54

    Yes, I can!

    Last night, I got a couple of Tesco Finest Wood-Fired large Salami Napoli Piccante & Roquito pepper pizzas, reduced to £1 each. Boo-ya! Those Roquito peppers are hot stuff.

  8. jimmy on May 22, 2013 at 04:57

    Richàd: where is the milk and kefir?

  9. Nigel Kinbrum on May 22, 2013 at 05:07

    ^^^^ Just desserts! 8)

  10. Nigel Kinbrum on May 22, 2013 at 05:13

    Flax seed oil oxidises at room temperature without smoking, but smoke = definitely oxidising!

  11. EF on May 22, 2013 at 07:34

    Homemade tartar, wow that sounds awesome. My next cooking challenge is homemade mayo. Egg salad, check. Tuna fish, check. Can’t wait.

    I bought some mac nut oil for the task. Anyone have thoughts on a better oil? Tips for a first timer? Thanks

  12. Richard Nikoley on May 22, 2013 at 07:55


    I’m not a fan of any salmon I’ve had wish stuff on it. But I do love it cooked the standard ways, very moist & rare.

    As to high oleochemicals sunflower oil, many give it a stamp of approval, including Sisson.

    Way low in PUFA and it’s not GMO but selectively bread.

  13. Richard Nikoley on May 22, 2013 at 07:59


    I’m onto something else now and of good. Will be blogging about it soon. I still incorporate milk & kefir but in reasonable amounts as part of the diet. As a hint you could say I’ve come full circle and have learned a lot with various experiments that are in various ways incorporated.

  14. John D. on May 22, 2013 at 08:40

    Full circle to taters? Full circle to paleo?

    Or full circle to low carb?

    I learn a lot from your tests and I’m really curious to see where you landed.

  15. Richard Nikoley on May 22, 2013 at 08:49


    Basically, back to the original thing that worked so well. When I had the injury that put me down so hard and I gained back 20 of the 60, when I was able to get head on straight, get back to the gym (about a year ago now) I decided to do various experiments. There’s the cold water, there was potatoes, there was milk & kefir and maybe another thing or two.

    Guess what? Nothing is really as sustainable and effective as simply eating paleo, hitting the gym 1-2 times per week, and doing 1-2, 24-30hr zero cal fasts per week. But, I’ve learned a few things:

    1. Dont sit in cold water but do go for a swim in the pool now & then and move around for 30 minutes or so at 75-80 degree water.

    2. LC is not important, but keep it real with real food (like potatoes).

    3. Milk/kefir is the absolute best post workout nutrition ever. Screw the powders. Pound dairy.

    I have this commenter dropping BS stuff out of ignorance, saying I’m fat and need to go vegan, etc. Laf. He has no idea where I’m at right now.

    But that’s a surprise I’ll save for a few months down the line. You could call it my own custom version of leangains. I was simply unwilling to lean out by losing much if any lean mass and strength. I want to lose fat and gain lean tissue and be properly mesomorphic at the end.

    I’m on it.

  16. Ulfric Douglas on May 22, 2013 at 13:08

    Those chips are crap.
    Use a proper pan of dripping (beef fat, tallow), cook them on medium until almost ready, then hotter for a few minutes before scooping them out off the heat.

    Bloody foreigners.

  17. Richard Nikoley on May 22, 2013 at 13:46

    “Use a proper pan of dripping”

    Yea, I’m getting right on that. Already ordered from Amazon: “proper pan of dripping.” All 5-star reviews, too! So thanks.

  18. Jay Jay on May 22, 2013 at 18:45

    That’s close to the way I do it. But I use beef fat for deep frying.

    I keep a batch of oil that I use for the fries (chips), and I use it over and over again.

    For the fish, I cut the beef fat half and half with red palm oil. It get’s kinda smelly after 3-4 uses though, so I toss it.

    And I use 2/3 rice flour and 1/3 cornmeal for the “breading”. With baking soda a beer, just like you.

    Good stuff!

  19. Nigel Kinbrum on May 23, 2013 at 02:10

    Richard Nikoley said…
    ““Use a proper pan of dripping”

    Yea, I’m getting right on that. Already ordered from Amazon: “proper pan of dripping.” All 5-star reviews, too! So thanks.”
    You’ve gotten hold of what it is that I’m on, haven’t you? 😉

    This made me cry with laughter
    Note the Amazon shop department.

  20. Christo on May 23, 2013 at 05:46

    Wow. That looks so awesome. Thanks Richard. I’m going to make that tonight. I might even have to spurge for a soda to go with it.

  21. Paula on August 13, 2013 at 15:46

    I guess I’m stupid and need actual measurements because mine did not turn out good at all. Except for the potatoes.

  22. Richard Nikoley on August 13, 2013 at 18:44

    By complete cooincidence Paula, I’m doing again tonight. I’ll see if I can help a bit.

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