There’s something very special, and very British, about a good plate of fish and chips, be it freshly unwrapped from the local takeaway, or served up with peas and lemon with a pint in a pub.
It’s a difficult dish to replicate at home, unless you have a deep fat fryer (I do), and can get the fish steamed just right in a casing of crispy batter (I sometimes can).
Across the UK we eat about 382 million meals from fish & chip shops every year, including 167 million portions of fish and chips, according to the Federation of Fish Friers. We are blessed with some fine fish and chip shops in Brentwood and Ongar, not least the Ongar Road Fish Bar, The Fish House, Fish ‘n’ Chick’n in Hutton, Chris’ Fish, Chicken and Ribs, the Flying Fish in Warley, Anchor Fish and Chips in Ongar, and The Only Way is Fish. And, of course, for fresh fish there’s Starfishmongers at Calcott Hall Farm, Hutton Road Fisheries in Shenfield, and the Smith’s fish stall in Ongar too.
All this said, despite clearly having a taste for properly prepared and presented fish, as a nation we eat very little of the fish and seafood we catch. It is estimated that between 60-80% of UK domestic landings are exported. Meanwhile, five species (cod, haddock, tuna, salmon and prawns) account for 60-80% of all fish consumption in the UK and these species represent a significant proportion of the UK’s fish imports.
Defra and Seafish, the public body that supports the UK seafood industry, are hoping to persuade more of us to eat more UK fish and shellfish, including langoustines, crab, lobster, scallops, oysters, clams, mussels, squid, cuttlefish, turbot, plaice, sole and monkfish.
Keep an eye out on the Love Seafood website (www.loveseafood.co.uk) and social media for some fabulous recipes aimed at helping us all reconnect with enjoying all types of seafood. And if you’re already great with fish, or have a recommendation on where you buy your fish locally, do share your knowledge online using #LoveSeafood.