Beer Battered Fish and Chips and…Happy New Year

While we’re on the subject of dastardly dogs I’m reminded of a New Years Eve I spent at the local hospital.

When Archie and Arabella were younger we lived in a house high up in the canopy of gum trees overlooking part of a beautiful waterway called Pittwater.  It was within walking distance to a small, remote beach but not so small there weren’t any laws to abide.  Unleashed dogs were prohibited and dogs on the beach itself were prohibited.

Beer Battered Fish and Chips

One NYE when Arabella was a newborn and Archie not quite two, Carl and I were going to see in the New Year on a boat on Sydney Harbour while watching the fireworks.  It had been a beautiful day and before we had to leave for our NYE event we decided to take the children for a quick outing to the beach.

Archie had been given a Little Tikes wheelbarrow for Christmas along with a watering can and a few plastic tools and he was desperate to try them out in the sand.  We left the house and I pushed the pram, Carl carried all the gear and Archie ran along with his wheelbarrow.  The beach had a strip of grass where you could sit under the shade of a gum tree so we parked ourselves there and Archie moved onto the sand to dig with his new toys.

We became distracted when a woman we knew spotted us on the beach and came up to wish us a Happy New Year.  That was when a couple living locally walked by with their small scrappy dog that was not only unleashed but on the beach.  The dog raced along ahead of the elderly owners and sprinted towards Archie who was walking down to the beach to put some water in his watering can.  In a completely unprovoked attack the dog leapt on him and bit his face.  Archie was in shock and didn’t make a sound but came running back towards us.

That was when I saw blood running down his face from his right eye.  The owners of the dog stood near us and said and did nothing.  We were in a state of shock as it looked pretty serious and we knew we had to take Archie to hospital for urgent treatment.  We left the beach in a huge hurry with Carl now carrying all the gear and Archie, and me pushing Arabella up the steep hill.

Once home I put Archie in the car and took him to the nearest hospital.  Archie was examined and the doctors were concerned that because the bite was so close to his eye, there was a possibility he could have orbital fractures.  As it was a weekend and also New Year’s Eve, there was only one radiographer on duty and a lengthy wait.  I phoned Carl to let him know our tickets for the harbour cruise were now up for grabs.  We also realised we had left Archie’s new toys down on the beach.  They weren’t there when we went back to retrieve them.

Quick and Easy Tartare Sauce

Archie had his x-rays and fortunately there was no evidence of fractures.  He had a few steri-strips placed on the puncture wounds to his eye and we arrived home just in time for the count down to the New Year.

We didn’t ever hear from the owners of that dog.  Not one breath of an apology.  And two years later I saw the same man with the same unleashed dog on the same ‘dogs are prohibited’ beach and he gave me a very wide berth.

One of the best things about this little beach was that very close by was a fabulous fish and chip shop and so we’d often go down late in the afternoon and enjoy an early dinner.

Beer Battered Fish and Chips with Quick and Easy Tartare Sauce:

Every now and then it’s okay to eat fish and chips!

Serves:  4

Degree of Difficulty:  If you have a deep-fryer keeping the oil at a steady temperature, 3/5.  If you are like me and have to heat your oil in a saucepan and try desperately to keep the oi at the same temperature, 4/5.

Cost:  Purchasing the oil can make this costly but I had oil on hand so this meal for four cost less than $20.00.

For the Chips:

  • 4 large floury potatoes such as King Edward or Russet
  • sunflower oil

Dry the potatoes with kitchen paper and cut lengthways into chips about 1cm-thick. Half fill a deep-fryer or large heavy-based saucepan with oil and heat to 160°C. (If you don’t have a deep-fryer thermometer, test a cube of bread – it will turn golden in 30 seconds if the oil is hot enough.) Fry chips in batches for 5-7 minutes or until soft but still pale, then drain. The chips can be prepared to this stage ahead of time.

When ready to cook the chips, heat oil to 190C.  Drop chips into the hot oil in batches and cook until golden.  Drain, sprinkle with sea salt and serve with the fish.  (The chips can be kept warm in the oven if you are now going to cook the fish).

For the Fish:

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 330ml good quality beer
  • seasoning
  • 12 flat-head fillets
  • lemon wedges

Place the flour, salt and some freshly cracked black pepper into a large bowl, and make a well in the centre. Slowly start pouring the beer into the well, whisking to combine, until all the beer is added and a smooth batter forms. Strain batter through a fine sieve to remove any small lumps of flour. Place in the fridge for 1 hour.

Heat oil to 190C.  Dust the flathead fillets in the extra flour. Dip into batter, one at a time, allowing excess to drain off. Carefully place into the hot oil. Depending on the size of your fryer, cook fish in batches. Fry for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown and crisp, then drain on kitchen paper.

For the Tartare Sauce:

  • 1 cup good-quality mayonnaise
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 1 tbs each of chopped capers, cornichons (see note) and flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tbs sour cream

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

I found these recipes on Taste.

Want to keep in touch?  Join the fun on the Hotly Spiced Facebook page! 

Related Post


  1. Oh my God, what a day… Sounds so fearful, I felt how you were… But I am glad that he was fine. Your recipe is so beautiful and seems so delicious too. I took note. Thank you dear Charlie, Blessing and Happiness, with my love, nia

  2. I am glad such a scary day turnd out fine in the end 🙂
    What a delicious meal to relax with!

    Choc Chip Uru

  3. How is Archie with dogs these days?! You would think that would be enough to scare (as well as scar…) anyone for life. Hopefully the fish and chips made up for it, a little bit at least! This version certainly looks like it would give any shop a run for its money.

  4. Isn’t it sad how some people who take a pup home just never get the grasp of responsibility. I live in a neighborhood full of irresponsible dog owners and it really is sad. Your recipe is exact in detail as always. Thanks Charlie!

  5. Sad how some people see like as everything is for them without respect of others. At least Archie didn’t have serious injuries. …. and watching Sydney’s fireworks from the water must be a treat!

  6. Dear Charlie,

    Poor Archie, that would have been pretty traumatic and thankfully all is well. I love that fish and chips especially with a great homemade style tartare sauce.

  7. Magnolia Verandah says:

    Oh my goodness I would have been beside myself. Even though I am a dog owner myself I am very conscious of my little ones being around our Max. I am very outspoken with other irresponsible dog owners – I just can’t help myself. Thank goodness Archie only needed a couple of steri-strips. Must say a good beer batter would make everything OK.

  8. I know what you mean. Some dog owners just don’t learn. I have a Beagle and there have been several occasions where some pretty nasty dogs have been let off the leash in an ‘dogs must be on leash’ area harassing him. Of course, the owners didn’t do anything… GRRR

    Hope Archie isn’t too traumatised. Fish and chips does help abit 🙂

  9. Well after this post, I would say the family does not have much fondness for dogs or irresponsible dog owners!
    Your fish and chips does look pretty tasty! I imagine it was the better memory from your stay at the beach. Happy Monday!

  10. This story sounds even more terrifying! Here a police would be called even if the dog was friendly; just because it was without the leash (and what’s more on a forbidden beach).
    You make me crave fish and chips! Everything looks luscious, including the tartare sauce.

  11. What a scary incident for your little boy. I’m amazed and gratified that he grew up to be the handsome young man we saw at that wedding.

    Fish and chips are one of my favourite meals. I get it from Sir Cedric’s Fish and Chips … a wonderful chain of restaurants in Canada. 🙂

  12. Oh Gosh Charlie, my heart is going fast! I dont know waht I would do.. I have a temper when things like this happening for which reason?!
    I think I can dive now in this fish and chips to calm me down..

  13. 100% agreed that every now and again it is ok to eat Fish and Chips…it’s good for the soul. 🙂

  14. Ugh, pet owners like that should have their animals taken away! But lets keep the fish and chips…and send them to my house! They look marvelous!!!

  15. I would have thrown the dog in the ocean.

  16. As a dog owner, I hate to hear stories like that. Bad owners give all of us a bad name.

  17. How terrible! Really terrible! Accidents happen, but to not take responsibility for keeping a dog leashed and then being even capable of walking away when a very little child is hurt? Good grief! Sometimes I could despair! Of course it’s good to know that Archie wasn’t seriously injured, but the trauma to you all must have been really something! And I must tell you that I have not been receiving your posts in my “reader”–and didn’t realize how much you have posted lately. I really enjoy your posts, Charlie, and I’m going to have to stop relying upon my blog reader…it has let me down! I plan to get caught up by going back and reading. Not because I feel I have to, but because I want to! I really enjoy your stories 🙂 Debra

  18. We have a similar situation here in my little town. I love dogs, don’t get me wrong, but some of the people who live here refuse to put them on a leash and it causes all kinds of problems. Even the best behaved dog can frighten someone whose afraid of dogs. It’s just common sense and polite behavior to keep your dogs restrained for the safety of others and their safety also!

  19. Oh my! what a horrible and scary experience. I am glad you managed to take your little boy home in the same night. The nerve and disrespect some people have really makes me angry.
    My husband is a big fan of fish and chips and I think he will really enjoy this

  20. How atrocious! The fellow should have, at the very least, helped you to your car! What a jerk!! Your recipe looks divine.. I’ve been tempted to purchase a deep-fat fryer.. sooo tempted!

  21. How frightening for you! And very scary for Archie does he like dogs now? The Glam Pooch is a boxer and I’m very aware that people find him intimidating because of his size, even though he is very soft I always watch him near giggling children as he finds them irresistible whilst they are less keen on the nose to nose view they get! GG

  22. Oh how terrible! I can’t stand when pet owners are so irresponsible!

  23. I love how you always end up stories of bad people (because, seriously?? what kind of person would do that?!) with a nice recipe!!!!

  24. My goodness Charlie! Another awful story. I wouldn’t blame Archie if he wasn’t quite a dog-lover.

    Mmm your fish and chips look much better than the fish shop versions. You just need a potato scallop on the side.

  25. You know they probably stole the toys as well! Hideous. c

  26. Every now and then, it should be required to have a good basket of fish and chips.

    Poor Archie!!!! I can’t imagine what that was like as a mama!

  27. What a-holes! Their dog attacks your son and they say nothing, and then someone takes his toys! Grrrrr.

  28. The least said about that mope the better. Just glad Archie was/is all right. You fish and chips look really good … nice and crispy. Yum!

  29. Unhappy new year. Surprised that there wasn’t even an apology, let alone compensation.

  30. That was so awful what happened to Archie. I can’t believe the owners did not apologize or anything. I am so sorry that happened. On a lighter note, I love fish and chips and yours look so delicious. In fact, I want that for dinner right now:-)

  31. This story is shocking and scary. I cannot believe the dog owners did not even apologize. Good to know that Archie was fine.
    Fish and chips look amazing! I love fish and would love to try this soon for dinner.

  32. Fish, chips and all that crispy goodness. I wish I did have a deep-fryer. Hmmm, this is gonna tempt me to buy one for sure.

  33. Your tarter sauce and your fish and chips… are making me hungry right now. I wish i could have this for dinner tomorrow. Well, I just might. Just have to stop by the fish market 🙂

  34. Wow how traumatising that would have been! I was a attacked by a dog when I was little and it remains one of my most distinct child hood memories. Hope Archie has grown up to be ok with dogs since then. People with pets really need to take responsibility!

  35. wow that would have been a scare for archie, but somehow the little boy within me thinks that he would have been most upset by his toys that were no longer there.

    i love a good fish and chips and not having had any in awhile this post has got me in the mood for some. great all weather kind of food as well.

  36. Oh my goodness, I hate that dogs like that give dogs such a bad name! Our larger dog has been attacked buy two dobermans and a german shepherd (on different occasions) which is bad enough but I can’t even image what it would be like to watch your kid get attacked like that.

  37. This guy is worse than the mechanic – at least the mechanic’s dog was not out in public. Poor Archie! Now this fish and chip dish – I would happily gobble up in an instant.

  38. Urgh – some dog owners!!!
    🙂 Mandy

  39. What is it with you guys and dogs? Charlie, I think you need to cook less appetising food, as aparently your family is delicious!!

  40. What an awful experience. There are enough dog off leash areas that you shouldn’t have to worry that your child is going to be mauled at a beach.

    I loved Pittwater. We had a boat for several years at Akuna Bay and would spend weekends on the boat gazing up at all the fancy houses or trotting up the river. Magical place I think.

    We had fish n chips for dinner WITH potato cakes. I’d never heard of a potato cake before moving to Australia. I didn’t make them at home. sad, I know.

  41. I am glad to read that your son is ok. I have relatives that live up on the Northern Beaches. I loved to look out on the Pittwater. They used to live in Clareville. They live in Palm Beach now.


  42. Absolutely terrifying. I’ll repeat my comment from the last post. When my daughter was bitten by a scrappy dog in south Minneapolis last summer, she, too, received no apology. What is it with people thinking they can break rules and allow their dogs to run at random and attack others?

  43. Poor Archie. That man with those dogs should be fined or ticketed.

  44. What a situation, poor Archie…thankfully everything in fine now..:)

  45. Oh my goodness, Charlie, another horrible story. I surely would have called the police, the behaviour of the dog owners is atrocious, and disgusting. I am glad there was no long term damage.
    I adore fish and chips and I’m sure yours are far better than any store bought version. They look so crispy and light. The Tartare sauce is one of my absolute favourites. Do you use malt vinegar on the chips like the English do?

  46. What a horrible experience! Poor Archie. Poor you and Carl. I can imagine how frightening it must have been. Irresponsible pet owners are the worst!

    I never fry fish anymore because of the mess, I suppose, but I do love it so and order it in restaurants frequently. You have inspired me…

  47. What a story … I’m so sorry this happened but hopefully everything is fine now.

  48. Oh that didnt end well with the dog. =I

    I love the combination of Tartar with fish and french fries. I could eat that anytime, as well as the rest of my family (French, austriand and the indian too) =D.

  49. I always want to make my own tartare sauce, never know that it’s actually thats easy.. Thanks for the recipe 🙂

  50. A very disturbing story Charlie. Your boy has survived a tremendous amount of injuries!

Speak Your Mind