I BELIEVE the star of the chip shop is the crispy coating and not the fish, which means in Yorkshire it’s a matter of a batter to flatter the latter!

I’m sure that when most of us were younger we didn’t taste our fish and chips properly – by which I mean “not involving the word fingers’’ – but drowned in tomato ketchup or curry sauce with a bag of scraps.

Later in life, in part I think because of my shameful antipathy towards things with eyes, skin and fins, I was presented with a mega sea monster the size of a curling stone with self-supporting legs of solid batter cracking its golden shell.

Alongside was the obligatory pot of tea and mysterious plate of bread and butter – an epiphany of the very sweetest kind while enjoying a day out at Whitby.

I wonder if my phobia for fish goes back to Mum working at Mac Fisheries in the early Seventies where I was petrified to meet her after work.

Or it may have started along with Dad’s proud fishing trips and the ‘trophies’ he would bring home for Mum to gut and clean in the kitchen sink with the odd one jumping out onto the kitchen floor.

This fishy phobia is called Lcthyophobia which is a mouthful in itself, but I’m still aware to this day of lingering smells of fish, and tremble when I come face-to-face with a big smiling salmon at the fish counter.

This has caused me lots of embarrassment over the years, but I’m not scared of prawns.

It’s good to know it’s common to share my fishy phobia with around 13 per cent of the UK population. Spiders are the most common phobia along with flying: people with these fears often start to associate other things with objects that cause it.

I read with interest a woman who was afraid of snakes became terrified of hoover cables and telephone wires as humans are programmed to be afraid of things that might harm them.

A phobia, however, causes irrational terror which I totally agree with. I like the hoover cable theory very much, but it doesn’t put me off frying my own fish as long as it’s been prepared for me. Fresh fish is best!

Don’t get me wrong, the convenience of frozen fish has its merits too, but make sure you buy quality fish. It It makes the battering part a little less guilty - you gotta have some excuses, right?

Let’s bring back the Friday night fish fry tradition again!

Thank you Airedale Hospital #NHS

Fried Fish Batter Recipe


2 white fresh or frozen fish fillets, cod or haddock – they should be no more than 1cm thick 

75g/3oz plain flour 

1 teaspoon baking powder 

Pinch of salt

Freshly milled black pepper 

100ml/4oz chilled sparkling water or pale ale

300ml/12oz vegetable oil to fry


1. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper into a bowl, then gradually add the water, whisking continuously until the batter is smooth and lump free.

2. Heat the oil on a high setting in a large frying pan. 

3. Pat the fish dry and remove any stray bones. 

4. Place one fillet and turn it over in the batter again, then holding it at both ends, lay it into the hot oil and quickly do the same with the second fillet. 

5. Reduce the heat a little and fry three minutes, then flip it over and continue to fry the over side till golden brown. 

6. Remove the fish with a fish slice and drain on some kitchen paper.

7. Serve warm with chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce with a good shaking of malt vinegar.