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Why do we eat fish on Good Friday? Christian meat abstinence explained - and recipes for fish and chips at home

Published: April 1, 2021

Many people across the UK traditionally eat fish and chips on Good Friday, which this year lands on 2 April.

But why is it a tradition and where did it come from?

Here’s what you need to know about why we eat fish on Good Friday - and an easy recipe for making fish and chips at home.

Why do we eat fish on Good Friday?

Christians believe that Jesus was executed on Good Friday, sacrificing his flesh for our sins.

For centuries, Christians have abstained from eating meat on Good Friday, and this was a rule laid out by the Vatican.

Today, many people, whether they’re religious or not, choose to eat fish instead of meat on Good Friday. Since fish are cold-blooded, their meat is thought to be different to the meat of warm-blooded animals.

Fish also have Christian connotations having been used as a secret symbol by Christians to identify each other when their religion was temporarily banned.

Many of Jesus Christ’s followers were also fishermen.

Some devout followers of the religion take the Good Friday tradition further and eat fish rather than meat every Friday.

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There were also plenty of meat-free days in the medieval Christian calendar alongside Good Friday, including Fridays, Wednesdays, Saturdays, Advent and Lent.

If you're looking to partake in a fishy Good Friday, here’s a recipe you can try at home for fish and chips.

Fish and chips recipes

Below we've included two recipes for fish and chips - one for the healthier baked option and the other a traditional beer-battered version.

Oven-baked fish & chips - BBC Good Food


For the chips:
800g/ 1lb 12 oz floury potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chips
2 tbsp olive oil

For the fish:
50g fresh breadcrumb
zest 1 lemon
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 x 140g/5oz thick sustainable white fish fillets
200g/ 7oz cherry tomato


Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.

Pat chips dry on kitchen paper, then lay in a single layer on a large baking tray. Drizzle with half the olive oil and season with salt.

Cook for 40 mins, turning after 20 mins, so they cook evenly.

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Mix the breadcrumbs with the lemon zest and parsley, then season well.

Top the cod evenly with the breadcrumb mixture, then drizzle with the remaining oil.

Put in a roasting tin with the cherry tomatoes, then bake in the oven for the final 10 mins of the chips’ cooking time.

Golden beer-battered fish with chips - BBC Good Food


For the fish:
50g plain flour
50g cornflour
1 tsp baking powder
75ml lager beer
75ml sparkling water
about 1 litre sunflower oil, for frying
400g fillet sustainable cod, hake or haddock, halved

For the chips:
750g potatoes, Maris Piper or Desiree, peeled and sliced into thick chips
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp sunflower oil


Combine the flour, cornflour, baking powder and turmeric in a large bowl, season, then spoon 1 tbsp onto a plate and set aside.
Gradually pour the beer and water into the bowl, stirring with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth, lump-free batter. Leave to rest for 30 mins while you prepare the chips.

Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Boil a large pan of water, then add the chipped potatoes and boil for 2-3 mins until the outsides are just tender but not soft. Drain well, then tip onto a large baking tray with the flour, oil and some salt.

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Gently toss together until all the potatoes are evenly coated and the flour is no longer dusty. Roast for 30 mins, turning occasionally, until the chips are golden and crisp.

To cook the fish, heat the 1 litre oil in a deep saucepan until a drop of batter sizzles and crisps up straight away.

Pat the fish dry with kitchen paper, then toss it in the reserved turmeric flour mix. Shake off any excess, then dip into the batter.

Carefully lower each fillet into the hot oil and fry for 6-8 mins – depending on the thickness of the fish – until golden and crisp. Using a large slotted spoon, lift out the fish, drain on kitchen paper, then sprinkle with salt.

Serve with the hot chips and sauce of your choice.

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