Crispy fish & chips – In Oxford’s “The eagle and child”

Travelling for us means eating (new) foods. When travelling most of our money is spent on food for sure. During a recent trip we visited the university town Oxford in the UK. Besides enjoying the sights, we enjoyed a superb fish & chips in a historical place. What’s more the fish was super crunchy, far more that I had tasted before I think.

So, interested in reading about history + travel + food + science? Continue reading, because this post will be a mix and mingle of all of that, starting with the food of course, but giving some other great tips if you’re visiting Oxford.

Fish & Chips

When visiting the UK you have to eat fish & chips at least once (at least, that’s our motto). So when we were in Oxford we decided to go for it. Inside the pub ‘The Eagle and Child’ we had a large portion of fish & chips to share. Even though I’m not a huge fan of fish & chips, this one was great. The fish was really super super crunchy, it wasn’t oily at all, no off taste from the frying oil and the chips weren’t soggy nor sour. Perfect meal!

Of course, the whole course was served with some mashed garden peas, not my personal favorite. But I guess it kind of belons there and it does finish of the dish by giving it some colour (though not that much taste…).

Making crunchy fried fish

Making a super crunchy fried fish isn’t easy. Due to the high moisture content of the fish, it tends to get wet and soggy instead of super crispy. During baking the moisture in the fish will evaporate and sit in the batter, preventing it from becoming crispy. For something to become crispy it generally has to be pretty dry (think cookies).

So when making fried fish it’s all about getting that batter dry enough, but have it stick to the fish. In a previous post I’ve written about how to make fried fish, it gives a lot of general tips, so we’ll stay top line here:

  1. Dry your fish – drying the fish with a paper towl and then coating it in flour helps to create a more crispy fried fish.
  2. Make a batter that sticks to the fish, but isn’t too thick for it to form a very thick layer, preventing it to cook through properly.
  3. Choose a good frying temperature. You’ll probably have to try out some, but if you fry at too high a temperature it will burn while the inside is still raw. The other way around also goes up, at a too low temperature the fish won’t get a nice brown colour before everything being overcooked!
  4. Chips vs fries

    British and American English has some great words which are used totally differently in the two languages. One of them for sure is the chips used in ‘fish and chips’. These British chips are the American fries.

    Yes indeed, fish and chips is nothing more than fried food only, but if done well, tastes great.

The eagle and child – pub Oxford

We ate our fish and chips in a great pub just outside of the center of Oxford called the Eagle and Child. Just like any ‘real’ English pub, its walls aren’t straight, there are lots of different small rooms, there’s wooden beams everywhere and the whole place just breathes hisstory. It was a great place to sit and relax after a busy day touristing Oxford.

Only later did we realize that this was also the pub where the writer JRR Tolken and CS Lewis used to meet and discuss. It felt very fitting with this place and the delicious food served as well!

If you’re ever visiting Oxford, it’s certainly a lace worthwhile checking out.

Visiting Oxford

Now that we’re discussing touristy things anyway. Let’s discuss Oxford as well, I enjoyed visiting Oxford.

Oxford is a real university town, it’s full of old college buildings (most of them hundreds of years old) and is only an hour’s train ride away from London. We visited Oxford to escape the busy city of London, but if you plan on visiting Oxford the Saturday after the last day of a student’s term, it will still be quite busy.

A nice thing of Oxford is the fact that it’s not a huge town and from the station you can walk to all nice sights in town. Be sure to wander around and admire those college buildings!

Student tours in Oxford

While walking through town we happened to run into a group which was just leaving for a tour, so we spontaneously joined the tour (after paying of course). This proved to be a great choice! The tour was led by a student and was organized by Footprint Tours. Since the student actually studied in Oxford at the time he could tell us loads of nice stories about the colleges, about the history, but also the rivalries and student jokes and pranks.

It was a two hour tour and well worth our time. The tour made us appreciate the whole town a lot more since we started recognizing things and understood the fabulous century old history that lies in this town!

 

Great, a relaxed day with good food, science, some fascinating history and some new learnings. That’s when holidays are at their best.

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