I always assumed that the batter fish and chip shops used contained milk, mainly because when I’ve asked that very question I’ve been told, “Yes, it does!” My local chippy do me fish in rice cones which I’ve never had any problem with, but this evening, whilst tucking into my delicious Friday night treat I wondered whether there was any chance of cross contamination from the milk in the normal batter.
Now my stomach is full and the food has gone I thought I’d research how batter is made. I have founds loads of recipes using water, sparkling water and beer, but none containing milk. Did I completely make this up? Do fish and chip shops use milk in their batter or not? Here is a recipe for Scottish batter found on Scotland’s Enchanting Kingdom.
Scottish fish and chip batter
- Self-raising flour
- Sparkling mineral water (some people add beer)
- Malt vinegar
- Pinch of Salt
Delia Smith’s fish batter recipe contains no dairy either
Ingredients – Makes enough for four 6-7 oz (175-200 g) pieces of fish:
- 4 oz (110 g) self-raising flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 5 fl oz (150 ml) water, plus 1 scant tablespoon
Just sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, then gradually add the water, whisking continuously until the batter is smooth and free from lumps.
Jamie Oliver’s recipe for crispy fish batter from Jamie’s Italy is also dairy free…
- Sea Salt
- Zest and Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 cup of flour + extra for dusting
- Olive Oil
- 1 small bottle (250ml) of Ice cold fizzy mineral water
- 3/12 pints sunflower or vegetable oil
Season the fish with salt and pepper generously and marinade it in the lemon juice for at least half an hour. Pour out the lemon juice and pat the fillets dry. Heat your oil in a pan. While this heats make your batter by mixing the egg yolks, flour, lemon zest and some olive oil in a bowl and stirring in the the bubbly water.
I also found a traditional fish and chip batter recipe from cooking for chumps website, which is, yep, you guessed it, ALSO dairy free…
For the batter:
- 570ml / 1pint water
- 225g / 8oz plain flour
- 4 eggs
- 1 Tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 Tsp tumeric
On Wikipedia it says that normally water and flour are used, but in some cases, beer and milk substituted.
“UK chippies traditionally use a simple water and flour batter, adding a little sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and a little vinegar to create lightness, as they create bubbles in the batter. Other recipes may use beer or milk batter, where these liquids are often substitutes for water. The carbon dioxide in the beer lends a lighter texture to the batter. Beer also results in an orange-brown colour. A simple beer batter might consist of a 2:3 ratio of flour to beer by volume. The type of beer makes the batter taste different: some prefer lager whereas others use stout and bitter. In all cases, the alcohol itself is cooked off, so little or none remains in the finished product.”
Have I been avoiding fish batter all these years for no reason? Is the confusion here that I’m asking if the batter contains dairy and that some people think eggs are dairy? Most fish and chip shops that I’ve spoken to however say that their batter contains milk. Even in restaurants when I occasionally ask they say it does contain dairy. Now I’m really confused… I suppose it’s one of those situations where you have to ask each time. Tedious, but necessary, and could mean I can have real batter on my fish every now and then.
Dairy UK forum has a discussion about this very subject and here everyone seems to be assuming that the batter normally contains dairy. To visit the forum and read the thread of comments visit the
Dairy Free UK Forum.
Does anyone know what’s the norm now in the UK? Perhaps I need to do some foot research here around my local chippers. I’d love to hear from any readers who avoid fish batter for this reason, or do you eat it with no problem? This would be a real treat if I could have fish and chips in normal batter. Look forward to hearing from you all…