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Fish n Chips in the UK


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#1 9lives

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 01:34 AM

I haven't been to the UK in many years. I fish a lot and have spoken with a lot of New England fishermen. There is a small shark family fish called spiny dogfish; which I understand is called rock salmon in the UK. It has no commercial value in the US and friends tell me it's shipped to the UK for fish n chips.

I've been told on another board that I'm FOS and the fish n chips in the UK is always identified as cod or haddock. Is this true or do you just get a few pieces of fried fish n chips when you order it?..that may in fact be this dogfish/rock salmon?

Thx

#2 Wilfrid

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 02:59 AM

Don't listen to other boards.

I haven't lived in the UK for many years, and the traditional fish 'n' chip shop had been declining for years when I left, but I can tell you how it used to be.

No, cod and haddock are not - or were not - the only options, although they were always most popular and, for all I know, may now have a monopoly.

When I was growing up, plaice was quite plentiful too, and you could get plaice and chips pretty easily. Now, as for the dogfish, yes - widely available (it was), and a cheaper option than cod and haddock. I used to eat it a lot. It had flaky, well-flavored flesh around a sort of thick spine a bit like monkfish. It was always sold as rock salmon or rock eel.

A nice trip down memory lane.

#3 Slapsie Maxie

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 05:26 AM

I have been doing a lot of reading/eating on the subject for Eating for Britain and, although Wilf is correct in saying that there has been a decline since the heyday of the chippie, there has been something of a recent resurgence in popularity.

There are now a little over 12,000 Fish & Chip shops in the UK. At their peak, there were nearly 25,000, many little more than the front rooms of terraced houses where fried fish was sold to make extra money. If you are ever in Sheffield, there is a chip shop called Two Steps, which is one of the last of these, the two steps referring to the, er two steps up from the street to what would have been the parlour.

The choice of fish is a regional thing and dependent upon local tastes and what the local fishing fleets brought in. In London and the South, the tradition was for cod, supplemented by other fish like skate, Plaice and "rock salmon" or "rock eel" which is indeed a kind of dogfish. This became popular (if I recall properly) during WWII when Churchill was keen for Fish & Chips not to be rationed because of the impact on the nation's morale. In the North, the most popular choice was nearly always haddock and certainly remains so in my own home town of Rotherham. There are other regional differences. In the South, F&C are often served with gherkins (pickles) in the North you are more likely to find people requesting mushy peas. In the South you will find Saveloys, a type of well seasoned pork sausage, in the North you will find fishcakes or "scallops" layers of fish and potato in batter. In all cases you will also find pies.

As I said, despite pressures from declining fishing stocks, newer fast food options as a result of more recent immigration etc, fish & chips lot does seem to be on the up and up, or at least to be holding its ground. Many chip shops use fresh fish, some use fish flash frozen by the trawlers at sea, which can often be better.

I tried dozens of the places when I was heading around the country. Some of the famous ones remain excellent, The Magpie Cafe in Whitby and The Anstruther (pronounced Anster) Fish Shop in Scotland for eg and there are a few (very few) good ones in London like The Golden Hind and Masters Superfish. However, my favourite chip shop in the UK right now is in the unlikely setting of a slightly grim shopping centre in Birmingham and is called Great British Eatery. It is run by two young brummies who opened it because there were no decent chippies for them to visit. The fish & Chips are cooked in beef fat as the best examples nearly always are and they do a great job.

GREAT BRITISH EATERY



The British chippy is going to be around for a very long while yet.

Slapsie

#4 Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 05:39 AM

As a side note, one of my first jobs as a teenager was on the beaches of Oceanside and Carlsbad at the local favorite, Harbor Fish and Chips. We used shark meat...





#5 Wilfrid

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Posted 24 May 2010 - 09:42 PM

Great summary, Slapsie.

Other regional variations: in the west country, most chippies would also serve faggots (stop it) in gravy with chips. In addition to saveloys, I always remember seeing pork sausages in batter and (be strong) spam in batter. These made very cheap meals indeed with a pile of chips, and saved a few starving students. Latterly, burgers (not good ones) in batter appeared on the list too.

Fishcakes by no means restricted to the north. I remember them too as a cheap option.

#6 9lives

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Posted 24 May 2010 - 09:55 PM

Thx all. Very comprehensive info.

#7 g.johnson

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Posted 24 May 2010 - 10:48 PM

Am I hallucinating seeing rock turbot too? Possibly some sort of catfish.

Common items in the Scottish chipper [sic] are red puddings (probably similar to a saveloy but I don't think I've ever had the latter), white pudding (a sausage with a filling of oatmeal and onions in lard), haggis pudding (haggis in a sausage skin), all battered and deep fried; macaroni pies (mac and cheese in a shortcrust, open-topped pie shell) and Scotch pies (a mutton pie), again deep fried; and deep fried pizza (a relatively recent innovation). Deep fried Mars Bars are after my time.
The Obnoxious Glyn Johnson

#8 Wilfrid

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Posted 25 May 2010 - 03:13 AM

You must also acknowledge, to be comprehensive, that Scottish chippers typically offer a sweet, sultana-studded curry sauce as the topping for chips. Outdoing the Belgians with their poxy mayo, I suppose.

I am shocked you've not eaten a saveloy.

#9 yvonne johnson

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Posted 25 May 2010 - 03:16 AM

And breaded and deep fried scampi. (Monk, of course. Or, at least, was.)
It was not a new dish, as I recognised my tooth marks. Wilfrid

#10 Wilfrid

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Posted 25 May 2010 - 03:19 AM

Did anyone mention battered mushy peas?

#11 yvonne johnson

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Posted 25 May 2010 - 03:21 AM

I'm not sure if many know this, but I think many fisherman catch fish and they don't really know what they are. My impression is that some ugly fishes are called witches (of course there is the true witch) simply b/c they are indeed ugly but the people catching them are not marine biologists. So, what's filleted and ends up on the fish mongers' tables are all sorts.
It was not a new dish, as I recognised my tooth marks. Wilfrid

#12 Wilfrid

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Posted 25 May 2010 - 03:28 AM

Is that what happened to Nessie? biggrin.gif

#13 splinky

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Posted 25 May 2010 - 04:18 AM

QUOTE(g.johnson @ May 24 2010, 06:48 PM) View Post
Am I hallucinating seeing rock turbot too? Possibly some sort of catfish.

Common items in the Scottish chipper [sic] are red puddings (probably similar to a saveloy but I don't think I've ever had the latter), white pudding (a sausage with a filling of oatmeal and onions in lard), haggis pudding (haggis in a sausage skin), all battered and deep fried; macaroni pies (mac and cheese in a shortcrust, open-topped pie shell) and Scotch pies (a mutton pie), again deep fried; and deep fried pizza (a relatively recent innovation). Deep fried Mars Bars are after my time.

the trick is coating cardboard and mulch in batter, frying it and calling it different things according to the final shape. in edinburgh, in the 80's, i saw a lot of chip shops serving plaice. on more recent trips, plaice didn't seem to be the featured fish, anymore. no specific type of fish was featured on the signage.

“One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. 'Oh, no!', I said, 'Disneyland burned down.' He cried and cried, but I think that deep down he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late.”
~Jack Handey

*proud descendant of cheese eating surrender monkeys*

 


#14 g.johnson

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Posted 25 May 2010 - 12:59 PM

QUOTE(Wilfrid @ May 24 2010, 11:13 PM) View Post
I am shocked you've not eaten a saveloy.

Kebabs were my beer blotter of choice at college. Possibly because there wasn't a decent chip shop in the center of Cambridge.
The Obnoxious Glyn Johnson

#15 Wilfrid

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Posted 25 May 2010 - 01:40 PM

Doner kebabs, I presume. I visited Oxford frequently when I lived I Bristol (academic reasons, had friends there, convenient), and doner kebabs served from parked vans were really the only late night food option. I think it was very hard to open fast food restaurants. Same in Cambridge?

Unfortunately, doner kebabs played hell with my digestion late at night.