Monday, 24 September 2012

Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips

What can I say? Who doesn't like good old fish and chips? Not those sad and sorry excuses for chips that are served in fast food outlets which are as thin as a pencil and about as tasty, nor the seemingly re-constituted bits and pieces of fish coated in breadcrumbs that also seem to abound. No, I am talking about the real thing dear reader, do you have a moment?........

A fillet of Cod or Haddock, lovingly dipped in a very light coating of batter and cooked to perfection in seriously hot fresh oil, resulting in a glorious combination of tasty fish and crisp batter. The chips, no less important should be freshly prepared. Now, let me tell you about the size, because size really does matter here. They should be as thick as your thumb, (no less), be approximately three to three and a half inches long, (that's about 75mm to 87mm for those of you that have been metric converted) as far as possible. But do not dismiss the little chips or the slightly misshapen ones as these will instantly show that the chips have been prepared in the prescribed manner. As for the looks, they should be golden and crisp on the outside and when bitten into should transport you into a revelation of delight with the soft and fluffy texture inside. 

What should be served with this inspired culinary combination? Salt, yes. Pepper, yes, (black peppercorns freshly ground, no other kind will do). We are agreed then. The dish is nearing perfection. What of vinegar? Only one kind will do, and that is onion. It imparts all the necessary sharpness needed, without the undertones of the malt variety. Am I educating you here dear reader? Changing your previous views on this important matter? I hope so. But the greatest debate of all remains. What kind of sauce? Tartare (please note the correct English spelling as opposed to that of our American cousins) is quite lovely, adding a delicate piquancy due to the capers used. A little of that then. But now, the real great debate.......

Tomato or brown sauce. The camp is divided on this one methinks. Personally, I prefer tomato, for the subtle sweetness that this brings, rather than the sharpness of the brown, which has already been included by the use of onion vinegar and the tartare. There will be some of you who might disagree, but once again you would be wrong. Trust me, I have made fish and chips a life long study (one of many) and I know what I am talking about here.

For a considerable amount of time I thought that I had found the perfect fish and chip restaurant/take away ever. It is about five miles away from where we live and run by the most charming Chinese couple. We are well known there and have green tea to drink from their own supplies, lovely. Very reasonable prices and cooked to order as it should be. However, we had a mini holiday recently. We found the local fish and chip shop/restaurant which had a steady stream of customers from opening to closing time. Closing time was nine thirty in the evening, very civilised as the area is rather more sedate than the city. It was as close to perfection as Lady Perry and I could expect to find. Batter so light and crisp it defied belief, the fish perfectly cooked and tasty. The chips were another delight for the palate, crisp, golden and plentiful. The prices were very reasonable and the service excellent, a cheery greeting on arrival and a thank you on departure. We would love to eat there again soon, but a hundred miles each way might prove a stumbling block. So it will be back to our old faithful, now relegated to number two in the fish and chip shop hall of fame. Until next time, keep well and warm, all the best from Grandad.......


  1. I always like to add a few pickled onions to enhance the flavour of the onion vinegar, but I think you have it spot on dear Grandad.

    1. Thank you for your comment Max, It is much appreciated. I trust that you are referring to the delicious small, sweet, succulent, mouth watering, and enticingly wicked but completely and utterly irresistible, pickled onions in white onion vinegar, as opposed to those horrendous impersonators the size of golf balls in that obscene dark malt vinegar, often displayed in the lower class of fish and chip establishments which are to be avoided at all costs? I think we are on the same train of thought if that is so. May you enjoy the best that life has to offer in the way of the glorious tradition that is England, Fish and Chips, may they rule forever!