Salt and pepper chips are a household favourite in the United Kingdom. A popular Chinese take-out order due to its savoury appeal, we can also make this dish at home to serve as a starter or side dish.
In this article, we’ll use frozen fries in our recipe, compiled from our own attempts at making it. An air fryer version for a healthier, crispier version is included too. So let’s start the whole family chipping in the cooking process!
What is it?
Salt and pepper chips are chunky potato sticks fried with a generous dose of salt, pepper, Asian spices, onion and chilli. Served on a colourful plate of chilli and capsicum, the dish is a great example of British-Chinese fusion food.
This fried dish became popular sometime in the late 1900s when Chinese restaurants in the United Kingdom wanted to entice British diners with conservative tastebuds to try their food.
Since salt and pepper chicken wings and ribs seemed to be quite popular, the Chinese cooks thought of using that to attract British customers.
They capitalised on the British’s love for chips and dipped fried potato sticks into salt, pepper, and a mixture of Asian five-spices. Ta-dah! The dish was created.
If we’re discussing British chips with an Asian flavour, then it’s also appropriate to point out that salt and pepper chips aren’t the only choices in the United Kingdom. There is also curry and chips, which is a huge Irish favourite, but also well-received in Wales and England.
Curry and chips are fried potato sticks dipped in a mellow curry sauce, with curry tasting similar to mild Southeast Asian curries rather than spicy Indian versions.
A typical Chinese takeaway of salt and pepper chips is 500 calories, which takes an equivalent of 1 hour of running to burn off excess calories.
Let’s find out what ingredients we’ll need to make this popular Chinese takeaway dish. In summary, you’ll need potato fries, vegetables, and some seasoning spice mix.
To start off, you’ll need to get thicker, chip-shop style frozen chips. Purchase also peppers, onions, and spring onions. Add fresh chillis for a spicy kick. Do not choose skinny fries or the mixture of spices and vegetables will just overwhelm the dish.
Now, here’s the most important flavouring: Chinese 5-spices seasoning powder. You can buy this in Asian supermarkets or online. Do shop around and try different brands as some 5-spices seasoning powder may add sugar or other types of spices. Find the one that you like the most to use in your homemade salt and pepper chips.
But if you like to ground the spices yourself, you’ll need to get cinnamon, star anise, cloves, peppercorns and fennel seeds. It tastes incredible with just a little bit, lending your dish a lingering sweet yet slightly smoky flavour.
Some people also like to add chicken powder or vegetarian seasoning powder to the 5-spices powder. This adds a level of umami to the entire dish. It’s a good way to make the fakeaway taste similar to the real deal.
You can also substitute the fries with onion rings for a change.
Here are some tips to make the salt and pepper chips dish successful. For starters, when you are chopping chillis and onions, you can save them in an airtight box so you can easily use them for the next round of cooking.
If you use chillis, remove the seeds and membranes so that the chilli is not too spicy. You want a gentle kick rather than an overpowering sensation. Or else, you can try curry sauce or peri-peri sauce instead of chilli.
With the salt, opt for salt flakes as it gives the fries a nice crunchy texture.
Lastly, invest in a mesh tray and bake your salt and pepper chips on it. Baking the fries makes it even crispier. Additionally, the tray is easy to wash and long-lasting.
After cooking, it is best to serve straight away while the dish is hot. Serve them with another sprinkling of sea salt on top, alongside a garnishing of spring onions and your selected vegetables on the side. You can also add sweet chilli sauce as a dip.
Using an Airfryer
One of the ways to eat healthier and still enjoy salt and pepper chips is to make them using an air fryer.
Since the air fryer cooks by drawing in heat from the air, rather than oil, you’ll be able to enjoy less greasy fries. It also takes less time and saves you the trouble of washing up.
If you are using an air fryer, set the cooking time to 30 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius (or at 392 degrees Fahrenheit).
Using an oven
Another option is to bake the fries, instead of frying them. The baked fries do not contain as many fats or calories as the fried version, and can taste crunchier too!
It takes 35 minutes to bake the fries, with a heat setting of 220 degrees Celsius (or 428 degrees Fahrenheit)
Salt and Pepper Chips | Chinese Takeaway Classic
- 2 cups frozen oven chips
- 5 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoon Chinese Five-Spice
- 2 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 pc onion
- 1 pc green pepper
- 1 pc fresh chilli
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
- Using the given instructions on the packet, cook the fries. You can bake them in an oven.
- Chop chilli, pepper and onion into small pieces. Heat oil in a pan and fry the chopped vegetables until it begins to caramelise.
- Add salt, 5-spices seasoning, chilli and sugar to the pan. Stir to coat the vegetables with the mixture.
- While the mixture in the pan is frying, add the cooked chips. Stir to coat the fries with the mixture.
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and are only rough estimations.
Marah’s Cuisine on Youtube has a video recipe on how to prepare this popular British household dish at home. In her recipe, she adds garlic granules and fried shallots as a twist to further enhance the flavour of the dish!
We hope that you have tried the recipe and now have a fresh batch of hot, piping salt and pepper chips to serve. If this recipe has been successful for you, why not share the joy with your friends by sharing this article?
Feel free to also tag us on Instagram @honestfoodtalks so that we can have a look at your delicious creation!
Looking for the fried chicken version instead? Check out our recipe on how to prepare salt and pepper chicken at home!