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    STONECOT   39,787
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Fish and chips, The UKís national dish.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Much reviled
and
Much maligned.

Too many shops trying to cook the cheapest food, in the cheapest oil, and with as many other ethnic dishes as possible. Visions of chunks of batter slopping around in half an inch of grease, and chips that are French Fries, and nothing that remotely resembles my holiday favorite.

At itís best, fish and chips more closely resembles an art form! In my 'yoof', I suspect the shops fried in dripping. My Mum certainly did. It wasnít lard, Iíd remember the smell, but nowadays, the best shops use sunflower oil.

The batter should be thin, coating the fish but not smothering it. The fat should be REALLY hot, smoking in fact, so that the batter puffs up and crisps up, while the fish cooks quickly though before the batter absorbs any oil. Soggy, greasy fish, comes from the fat not being hot enough! (Not easy to achieve with today's thermostatically controlled fryers)

The chips should be thick, half an inch across, chunky chips, not double fried, not oven chips (yuk) and real potato, not some reconstituted rubbish! Again, the fat should be so hot that the outside of the chips crisp up, while the potato inside remains fluffy.

The chips can wait, draining for a moment, while the fish achieves a wonderful warm golden colour, it takes 7 minutes, then you have perfection.

My local shop is excellent. It is run by a family of Turks, and they stick to traditional fish, with the usual sausages, pies and chicken. No kebabs, curry or pizza. But the best shop Iíve ever found, is near where my daughter lives in Aberdeen, Scotland.

It is being run by the third generation of this Scottish family, and they have an accent so broad my daughter has to translate for me, as they speak the local dialect, Doric, and I find it easier understanding the Turks!

The shop is five minutes walk from Aberdeen harbour, (any closer and the cod could flap their way in under their own steam) and the fish is bought there early each morning. By 9pm, earlier on a weekend, the queue is snaking around the shop, and outside and round the corner. Depending on the weather of course whether thereís more people inside or outside! Thereís lotís of Ďhey now lassieí and arm waving, as the people joining the back of the queue, dart in, place their order, and dart back to the end of the queue again, knowing it will be cooked by the time they get to the front.

Each time someone opens the door and comes out clutching their fish supper, an equal number of bodies squeeze in! Thereís a fair amount of good natured banter about the food coming out and the people paying for it.

The fish supper you actually get is a bit of a lottery, since by the time you reach the head of the queue, youíve:-

forgotten what youíve ordered,
you canít see because your glasses are all steamed up, and
the person in front of you is treading on your toes and missing either their pickled egg, or their gherkin!
Still, cod, haddock or rock salmon who cares.

Itís my national dish and I love it. Not for everyday, but all things in moderation.

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SKATER787 7/18/2013 1:34AM

    Bummer that they use vegetable oil like sunflower oil. Those veggie oils oxidize so bad. I'm hoping to do some baked wild salmon to go with pressure steamed potatoes. I've been working hard on mastering my bulk potato preparations. My food will never taste as good as the fried stuff but the quality of my ingredients might be better. It's fun and I get ideas from reading food blog. Thanks.
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SIMONEKP 7/10/2013 12:19PM

    drool

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AKROXIE 7/1/2013 9:24PM

  Really enjoy your description-makes me feel like there!

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SARAWALKS 6/30/2013 11:13AM

    One more reason to get to Aberdeen one of these days! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CATHEMARIE 6/24/2013 1:56PM

    Found "fish and chips" in Dallas! The "fish" was probably as authentic as we're going to get around here. The "chips" were good, but not at all as described above.

I mentioned your post as we were ordering!

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FRANKLY5 6/23/2013 1:25PM

    sound great

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1BEACHWALKER 6/22/2013 1:59AM

    One of my faves, but I don't think it was cooked like how you described. Arthur Treachers came over here and was soooo good when it was open in our area. I totally understand why people like them so much!!!! emoticon

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NEW-CAZ 6/21/2013 7:24AM

    There is a restaurant/pub near us that uses beer batter and it is ORGASMIC! The chips are crisp on the outside and fluffy inside.
It's the only place I will eat them- very seldom and have to really fancy it as I like my fish grilled these days but MAN, delishhhhhhhhhh emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MARTHROID 6/18/2013 3:34PM

    Been to the UK one time and LOVED the fish and chips and I didn't even go to that fabulous place...pretty sure. emoticon

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DAWN14163 6/18/2013 3:49AM

    Our local in the UK is run by Turks too......hmmmmmm...... We're on the overnight ferry home tonight, excited to be spending the next 6 weeks in England. I'm looking forward to F n C sometime in the next few days, out of the paper, on Cleethorpes seafront, with a generous helping of salt and VINEGAR!!! I'm yet to find malt vinegar in the shops here in Belgium, let alone on the chips.

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SHELLYBABE2 6/17/2013 2:53PM

    Oh love my fish and chips emoticon no more needs saying really lol. I would say thanks for sharing but all I can think about now is some fish and chips with mushy peas, hot tea and bread and butter :-/ and I've already had dinner lol.

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GOANNA2 6/16/2013 6:29AM

    Wonderful blog. Makes me so hungry for some
good Fish n Chips. I remember we used dripping
and if we did go out for fish and chips, they would
be wrapped in newspaper. It's hard to find today.
Ah, those memories are so vivid now.
Thank you. emoticon

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DANAPRIME 6/14/2013 9:00AM

    sounds great! glad you get to visit with your daughter!!

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MARUKI52 6/13/2013 9:38AM

    Oh Stonecot! I can't remember the last time I had fish and chips like that. All the chips are floppy and soggy now not at all like a I remember years ago.

Your blog brings back memories of going to the chippy of an evening with friends and buying sixpenneth (I think it cost that much but may have been less) of chips to eat out of the paper sometimes with a pickled onion and for some Saturday dinners when I was even younger visiting the local chippy where we lived then to get the family fish and chip meal. In those days they were just as you describe them. I am drooling here just thinking about fish and chips. LOL Nowhere round here does fish and chips like that now that I have found. I'm afraid I tend to resort to the oven variety. At least they turn out crispy.

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JUNEAU2010 6/12/2013 8:17PM

    I had fish prepared that way exactly once (wish I could remember where!) and I finally "got it"! Never had the right chips (YET) Now I am craving....

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CATLADY52 6/12/2013 4:30PM

    I've actually eaten at two shops (one in San Francisco, the other in Santa Rosa) in California that were almost as you describe. The meals were scrumptious. Alas, I'm now in Oklahoma and I've given up on eating fried foods. emoticon But I do remember. emoticon

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CATHEMARIE 6/12/2013 1:53PM

    Sounds so good! Hmmm, I wonder if there is any to be found around Dallas, TX?

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4-1HEALTHYCYNDI 6/12/2013 11:44AM

    Thanks for sharing one of your food traditions. Now I know what to look for when looking for the authentic fish and chips. Of course, I can no longer partake as I'm gluten free but what you describe sounds heavenly and a great tradition.

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ASPENHUGGER 6/12/2013 11:37AM

    I lived on fish & chips when I was over there! Quickly learned not to go to chippies on the High Street, but to go a couple of block off, & that was where the locals go & the food is much much better!

Now you've got me longing for some! I haven't found anything here in the colonies to come even close.
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TRUCKERSMRS 6/12/2013 7:37AM

    You are so right. Yum.
Unfortunately for me, although my village actually has a chippie, the food is vile. He's more interested in creating or spreading the village gossip!
We have to do a 10 mile drive for a decent take out - worth it though.
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OLIVIANIGHT 6/12/2013 7:32AM

    Oh, a good batch of fish and chips is absolute heaven. I've found a really good shop in Glasgow that I find very hard to resist!

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WATERDIAMONDS 6/12/2013 7:17AM

    And here I thought F&C were just greasy lumps! You make this sound like something I've been missing all my life!!!

Great little blog, as usual.

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SUSANNAH31 6/12/2013 7:16AM

    I was born in Canada, and I am a BIG fan of fish and chips. When we moved to the U.S. in my childhood, it wasn't as easy to get them. And when I did, I'd have to ask for vinegar -- not wanting the ketchup that was usually served with them.

Since then, I have visited England and Scotland, and have eaten lots of fish and chips while there. On one trip, we had fish and chips for supper four nights in a row!

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STFRENCH 6/12/2013 6:17AM

    What a fab blog! emoticon

I love a fish and chips as a treat now and then! It's one of the things I've discovered when I moved to England (we don't have it in France) and that I've learned to love emoticon

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RAINBOWCHOC 6/12/2013 3:44AM

    so now you'll have to come and sample our local chippies. Lots have won awards and the competition keeps them really good

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MARYJEANSL 6/11/2013 11:26PM

  That surely does sound delicious - and brings back memories for me, too, of my travels in England quite a few years ago. Fish and chips was my favourite thing to get - inexpensive and filling, and I was travelling on the cheap, for sure.

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WHOVIANGIRL23 6/11/2013 10:37PM

    I am jealous, that sounds pheononminal!

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ALIHIKES 6/11/2013 9:47PM

    I have fond memories of fish and chips from when I visited England. If it is well done it is delightful! Eaten in moderation of course -- but when it is just what you want, you don't need a HUGE serving. emoticon

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KOMAL53 6/11/2013 9:47PM

    While my father studied Architecture at Oxford and later worked in London he became a great fan of Fish'n' Chips because that was his staple diet in the late 40s--eaten out of a crumpled News Paper.He learned how to cook it from the Cockney Gent who owned that shop at Covent Garden and last year Sayali took me there to sample some of it.I agree with you----not a patch my Dad's version at all!!Since Mummy drew the line at Beef he'd use Bacon Fat instead of Dripping--but he managed to achieve the perfect crispiness of the thin batter to perfection---while my mother made the "Chips" as we called them--scrumptious Memories!!I ate a perfect and much tastier version at Edinborough--I agree that Scots still stick to their age old Recipes!!Thank You for this wonderful reminder of a childhood favourite--specially in the Rains!!!
P.S. By the way Shepherd Pie was my mother's forte and we still make it at home.Sorry to say that she achieved a far greater perfection in her Coal fired oven than I do today--hers was golden all around with the Cover achieving the right crispness and way tastier than mine!!

Comment edited on: 6/11/2013 9:52:11 PM

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LADYIRISH317 6/11/2013 9:31PM

    You're making me seriously HUNGRY -- I love fish and chips! I'm looking forward to your blog on shepherd's pie, the UK's OTHER national dish.

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MARIANNE9855 6/11/2013 9:29PM

    sounds delish! I love good fried fish- I would probably want that more than the chips I don't think we have anything comparable her in US but I can't say I've ever looked- I thought it should be best experienced where it originated.
The place in Scotland sounds wonderful after a long healthy walk. thanks for sharing with us emoticon

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CHALLENGER15 6/11/2013 8:46PM

    I now want to hop across the pond! This would be great!

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DR1939 6/11/2013 8:43PM

    We've had some delicious and some horrid fish and chips in Britain. It's like the little girls with the curl in the middle of her forehead, when it's (she) good, it's very, very good, but when it's bad, it's horrid.

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PATRICIAAK 6/11/2013 8:09PM

    You know your fish and chips!

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DEBIGENE 6/11/2013 7:45PM

    Now that's what I call a description of good fish and chips !!! I've seen and tasted some pretty nasty ones in my time, but never across the pond !!!!

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COCK-ROBIN 6/11/2013 7:10PM

    Mmmmm....it sounds so good. I've never had real fish and chips.

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PUNCHILOUIE 6/11/2013 7:09PM

    how interesting! my mouth waters just with the description of the right way to make fish and chips....yummy... emoticon

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PINKANGEL73 6/11/2013 6:53PM

    Oh you are so right. How often I have been tempted by the delicious smell but then disappointed by the reality of thick soggy batter and limp greasy chips. In fact I've taken to just having fish and mushy peas and leaving most of the batter and not bothering with the chips at all. Better for my waistline that way anyway.

Find seaside chippies tend to be the best with the fresh off the boat fish.

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DOVESEYES 6/11/2013 6:52PM

    My Dad is English and every Friday night after work he and I used to go to the local fish and chip shop for our order. We stood in a 4m x 4m shop crowded with people after the best fish and chips in our small town in New Zealand.

The owners were Maori people who caught the fish in the morning. They used lard too and is was the best. Not many fat people in the town either.

The room was crowded and the noise level high but it was the best night of the week for me, squashed in a 'tidal wave of people that went in and out as the names were called and they pushed to the front to get their order and then the ones behind surged forward and new people came in.

Thanks for the memory!!!!


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OVERACTIVEELBOW 6/11/2013 6:03PM

    Oh, how I would love to have the opportunity to have the real deal 'Fish 'n' Chips'. If I live long enough, who knows maybe I will get across the pond to your home turf. In which case I hope you are still available to point me in the right direction to have the very best dinner.
I am salivating just reading your blog... I swear I can almost smell that dinner being cooked.
AND, How are things in 'Azure' world... I hope you are having a great time, and finding it a really good challenge.
Audra

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DLDMIL 6/11/2013 5:40PM

    you have made my mouth water. emoticon

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ROCKNP90X 6/11/2013 5:18PM

    emoticon

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ETERNAL_FLAME 6/11/2013 5:15PM

    You're right, it is not guaranteed that a fish and chips supper will be a good one these days! I always prefer the ones at the seaside, but that could just be my mind reminiscing over childhood memories :)

I also agree wholeheartedly with your final sentiment - all things in moderation!

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MSPATOOTY 6/11/2013 4:54PM

    Oh now you've gone and done it. Now all I want to eat is proper English fish and chips! emoticon

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REGILIEH 6/11/2013 4:53PM

    emoticon

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MARYBETH4884 6/11/2013 4:30PM

    Sounds wonderful! Yum!

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PARASELENIC 6/11/2013 4:27PM

    Oh that sounds soooo delicious! I'm a sucker for any kind of fish though, so even the over greasy kind sounds good to me...

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A_BIT_AT_A_TIME 6/11/2013 4:21PM

    What a delightful scene you've painted for my mind's eye! I could almost smell it! Poetry in food.
Hubby was born in England and it's been one of the on-going searches of his adult life: to find an authentic fish and chips dinner. A couple of places have come close, he tells me. We're going to go to the UK at some point, I'm sure fish and chips will be first on the list of "must-do"s. Although, I was the one with the memories of pickled eggs - old farmer's delight here; there was always a jar of pickled eggs on the counter of the country "general" store where I grew up.

I'm pretty sure the batter and fat don't count when they're authentic, right?

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PEGGYO 6/11/2013 4:17PM

    sounds like you really like fish and chips

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