Ready made potato fries may offer convenience, but nothing quite compares to freshly cut, fried potatoes. Growing up in South Africa, we always referred to elongated sliced potatoes as chips. Other pseudonyms for this king of comfort food are French fries or pommes frites to name a few. Chips as I knew them, from childhood, were typically thicker than French fries and was fried at a lower temperature for a longer period of time to achieve its crisp outside and soft inside. We ate them during the summer months more than usual because of the abundant supply of potatoes in Amma’s garden. It was even part of our Christmas Brunch, Amma’s Chops Chutney and chips. We also had chips sandwiches for school lunches. Amma’s chips were simply sprinkled with salt and or chilli powder and sometimes doused in vinegar, like slap chips. I discovered this deliciously ‘soggy’ version of chips while visiting Cape Town. Like chips in a roti roll, slap chips are a key component to Cape Town’s great ‘Gatsby’. This post features a Slap Chip Recipe, for good old fashioned Amma’s chips omit the vinegar.
How to Make South African Chips
To make chips or slap chips there are a few considerations, namely the type and preparation of potatoes and oil used.
Best Type of Potato For Making Chips
Choosing potatoes for chips is one instance where judging a potato by its appearance is applicable, you can really tell if a potato is good just by looking at it. It should have a firm outer covering, less dents and definitely no sprouts. Sprouted potatoes tend to be soft cooking and not ideal for making chips, they are best for a Durban Chicken or Mutton Curry. According to several sources, the best potatoes for chips are Russet potatoes.
Type of Oil For Making Chips
Amma often fried chips with vegetable oil and sometimes used duck fat.
How To Cut Potatoes For Chips
To cut potatoes for chips, you don’t need a chip cutter, simply a cutting board and a sharp knife. I prefer generously proportioned chips. To achieve this slice the potato into rounds approximately 1cm thick. Slice rounds again approximately 1cm. This will give you a thick chip.
Amma’s method for making chips was to first soak them in cold water for 5 minutes then rinse them. This helps remove the starch from the potatoes and prevent them from sticking together in the frying pan. After rinsing potatoes slices, pat dry with paper towel. Be sure to pat completely dry otherwise there will be a lot of splatter when immersed in hot oil.
How To Fry Chips
To fry chips, the oil should be heated on moderate heat. If the oil is not hot enough, this will result in soggy oil soaked chips. In my opinion you don’t need a lot of oil to fry chips, but rather just enough to cover the chips. Place enough oil e.g 3 cm from the base; this will be just enough oil to cover the 1 cm thick chips. Test to see if the oil is ready by placing a small piece of potato in the oil. If it sizzles then it is ready for frying. Place chips in the pan.
Fry without turning for 10 minutes. Turn then fry for another 10 minutes. This should result in evenly browned chips. To drain excess oil, place on paper towel. Sprinkle with salt, and or chili powder and serve warm.
How to Make Slap Chips
Slap chips are doused in vinegar. Shortly after removing from the hot oil, sprinkle vinegar over then add salt. Slap chips are best served warm!
What to Serve With Chips
Chips are delicious enough to be served on their own., or as an accompaniment to Chicken Drumsticks or Sticky Chicken Wings.
South African Slap Chips Recipe
South African Chips
- 2 firm, large potatoes
- 300ml vegetable oil for frying
- 2 tablespoons vineagar
- chilli powder or paprika for sprinkling
- Wash and peel potatoes.
- Slice into round, approximately 1cm thick.
- Slice rounds into 1cm thick slivers.
- Place chips in cold water. Soak for 5 minutes.
- Rinse until water is clear.
- Pat dry.
- Heat oil in a heavy based pan.
- Test to see if oil is ready by placeing a small piece of potatoe in pan. If it sizzles it is ready for frying.
- Place chips in oil.
- Fry withouzt turning for 10 minutes.
- Turn and fry for another 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Place on paper towel to remove excess oil.
- Sprinkle with vinegar.
- Add salt and or chilli powder.
- Enjoy warm!