Incredibly, given the multitude of dedicated food days (including a whole 24 hours dedicated to Marmalade), until last year, there was no official date in the diary devoted to our great nation’s most popular dish. Happily, the world came to its senses in 2015 and now we are on the cusp of enjoying the second National Fish and Chips Day – hallelujah!
Now, with advice changing on what fish and seafood we should eat almost as often as the tides, we know it can be tough to tuck into a plate of perfectly crisp battered cod and salty chips, without the feeling that you’re only making matters worse for the chip shop favourite. So, cast your net of guilt to one side, stock up on vinegar or condiment of choice and prepare for platefuls of sustainable fish and chips at some of the nation’s finest purveyors of Britain’s greatest delicacy (that’s a personal view of course!).
Where better to start this piscatorial pilgrimage than at the National Fish and Chip Shop of the Year 2016 – Simpsons in Cheltenham. Like a number of those in this list, Simpsons has MSC Chain of Custody, which means the fish you order can be traced right back, from the fryer to the certified sustainable fishery where it was caught. On the subject of the fryer, you might also like to know that Simpson’s cooker is super energy efficient. And the herbs that go into its famous tartare sauce are grown in a bath tub on the doorstep.
Variety is, as they say, the spice of life. And if you’re concerned that an adherence to strict sustainability standards will restrict your choice, then Kingfisher Fish & Chips in Devon is here to surprise. The Plympton chippy was not only runner-up to Simpsons at this year’s national awards, but also has an astounding 12 varieties with MSC chain of custody. For a taste of something different, why not try the Cornish sardine fishcake.
Lussmanns, with three restaurants in Hertfordshire, may not be a chippy, but take a look at the menu and you’ll see they certainly know what they’re doing with sustainable seafood AND the group was voted the People’s Favourite at this year’s Food Made Good Awards, so it’s safe to say it’s widely acknowledge as an all round good egg. You can feast on line-caught, MSC-certified haddock, chips and mushy peas every Friday.
History records that the first fish and chop opened in the UK in the 1860s. Colmans of South Shields may not date back quite that far, but this year sees it celebrate its 90th birthday – and it was the first British chippy to be awarded MSC chain of custody. Like all successful restaurants, while maintaining its winning formula, it’s not afraid to try new things too. So, why not try the gurnard – extolled by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for being cheap, delicious and looking amusing!
Make Friday a special day and a reminder not just of what a great dish fish and chips is, but also that it’s one we need to choose carefully.