A slab of battered fish on top of a heap of chips doused in salt and vinegar has long been one of Britain's favorite dinners. However, recently a new wave of fish and chip restaurants is winning fans across London, while some of the capital's most exclusive eateries still have the 200 year old humble dish on their menus.
Organizers of Britain's annual National Fish and Chip Awards boast of 10,500 'chippies' around the country, saying some £1.2 billion (1.6 billion euros, $1.8 billion) are spent on the dish in a year. The organizers stressed the nutritional value of the dish, saying it was high in protein and contains vitamins while insisting that little saturated fat gets into the dish due to the speed of the frying.
At the new generation fish and chip restaurants in London, the fish is served in beer batter, fine wines and craft beers are served with food, while diners can order side dishes such as fennel and dill salad. Fish and chips are also part of the menus of some of the capital's top restaurants, often costing several times the price of a regular takeaway.
For a traditional fish and chips dish, the fish is dipped in a thick, tempura-like batter made from flour, eggs and milk before being deep-fried, while the chips are cut thicker than French fries. The fish is traditionally cod or haddock although some shops now serve a range of fish including rock and coley. It is sometimes served with mushy peas, a soupy reduction of dried peas with sugar and salt, or scraps of leftover batter from the deep-fat fryer.
Last month, Britain's best fish and chip shop was named as Frankie's in the Shetland Isles, off the northeast coast of Scotland. John Gold, the shop's manager, attributes his success to the freshness of the fish rather than any fleeting fashion. He said, "The fish is from the North Sea. It just comes off the doorstep, you can't get any fresher. Everybody loves fish and chips, everybody can tell you a story when they first had their fish and chips in the days when it used to be wrapped up in newspapers. Even Prince Charles."