Fish and chips at O’Neill’s in Palmanova. | Andrew Valente

On all five continents tomorrow people will be having fish and chips with even more relish than usual — not because it’s Friday, but because it’s World Fish and Chips Day.

When I was a child, fish and chips were a Friday night special in most Scottish homes and also in other parts of the UK. It is, after all, our national dish.

But why was it such a treasured Friday night meal? In most homes it was a question of day-to-day economics.

Very few working class people made their own fish and chips: it was always a takeaway, although it wasn’t called that in those days.

Takeaways are a relatively expensive way of eating and they were a no-no in those days for working class people — except on Friday nights.

That was because workers were paid weekly, so on Friday evening everyone had a pay packet and felt there was money enough to splash out and get a takeaway from the nearest chippy. That meant fish and chips. And that’s why World Fish and Chips Day always falls on a Friday.

Cod was always the most popular batter-fried fish with chips in England, although Scottish people preferred haddock, mainly because there was more of it in the north and it was more economical.

But some of the less popular of the cod family (it is a particularly large one) were also used by chippies in England, sometimes with new names that gave them a more upmarket cachet.

Most chippies in Scotland do only haddock these days and no one is complaining: haddock is a perfect fish for batter-frying and works beautifully when it’s on the same plate as chips deep-fried to a nice golden colour.

Some big city trendy cooks are serving fish and chips but using some of the more expensive varieties such as gilt-head bream (dorada), sea bass (lubina) and turbot (rodaballo).

I think it is a great idea to use fillets of these varieties for fish and chips, but I’d always do them at home, thereby avoiding trendy restaurant prices that are usually somewhat abusive.

You’ll find frozen sea bass fillets at Mercadona and a couple of stalls at the Mercat d’Olivar fish market.

They are nicely thick and are ideal for batter-frying, as well as any other of the multitude of ways of handling this superb fish. For a real de luxe touch, cut them into thickish fingers and add them to a seafood paella.

If you want to take batter-fried fish to a new level, buy fillets of farmed dorada or lubina. The price is reasonable and the results are superb.

The fish counter at El Corte Inglés is the best place for these fillets. If fillets aren’t available, buy a whole farmed fish and get it filleted as you wait.

The fishmongers at El Corte Inglés will also divide a whole turbot into fillets, and you’ll have a luxurious version of fish and chips. And if you want to do a spectacular baked turbot, then the staff will make it ready for the oven.

But if you want to be a true purist and have traditional cod in batter, El Corte Inglés is also the place to be. They always have fresh cod fillets but they are too long for deep frying, so once weighed ask the staff to cut them into the sizes you prefer.

If you are using fresh cod for fish and chips (or any other recipe) you may like to try Rick Stein’s preliminary way of dealing with it. It is simple, quick and works every time.

Rick Stein covers the pieces of cod with sea salt crystals and leaves them overnight. When ready to use them, he washes off the salt crystals, dries them and they are ready for use. The overnight salting gives them a memorable taste sensation.

If you’re doing fish and chips, the pieces of cod go into the batter and then into the deep fryer. And that brings us to the next stage of making fish and chips: the batter.

I am sure that nowhere in the world are there two cooks who use the same batter: everyone has a variation on the theme and frequently a secret ingredient that makes their batter unique.

One exception to that rule was my sister Lily, whose fish and chips were among the best I’ve ever had. Lily’s batter was made with flour, water, salt and nothing else.

Depending on the amount of batter she needed, she sifted some flour and salt into a bowl, and with a fork beat in enough water until she had the correct consistency. When an index finger was dipped in the bowl and the very smooth batter instantly clung to it, the batter was ready.

Most other cooks add a wide variety of ingredients to their batters. It can be a pinch of bicarbonate of soda, a splash of soda water, a glug of beer, a squirt of vinegar or even a shot of vodka. Anything that helps to aerate the batter is worth trying.

But it doesn’t really natter what cooks add to their batter so long as it is light, crisp and free of residual oil.

The fish and chips I’ve had in the Glasgow area in the past eight months have been recommendable. Sometimes the chips could have been better, but the batters were always spot on.

For islanders, good fish and chips places can be found in Puerto Pollensa and Palma Nova, but Palma has never had a chippy of its own. A couple of bars in San Agustín not so long ago did good fish and chips for while, but then fizzled out.

A takeaway was opened in Plaza Atarazanas a few years ago but it wasn’t a success, even although they were using part of the frying range from the much missed Rooster’s chippie in Magaluf.

Those living in the Palma area who have an urge to celebrate World Fish and Chips Day, actually have a nearby solution: O’Neill’s in Carrer de París 8, Palmanova (Tel: 971-681751). It’s my favourite and it comes with superb Guinness on draught.