Fish and chips are one of the most popular dishes in the world. And it is proudly British. Or at least, the British considered it as one of the main meals that they can eat on any given day.
The dish involves a fish covered in batter and fried until golden brown. It is completed with a side of hot potato chips – or fries. This is a common take away meal for the English. In fact, in 1910, there were 25,000 fish and chip shops all over the UK. This grew to 35,000 in the 1930s.
The origin of fish and chips
So where did this beloved dish originate?
The history of fish and chips are torn between London and Lancashire – both of which claim to be the venue where the first dish was served. Well, the chips are considered to be a staple food that comes in cheap – perfect for the folks in the industrial north. The fried fish, on the other hand, first appeared in the East End of London.
The potato in this dish was believed to be taken from the New World and brought to England by Sir Walter Raleigh during the 17th century. This, obviously, is in contradiction to the popular belief that the French came up with the idea of frying potato chips.
With the fish and the chips gaining in popularity, the British soon found themselves putting the two together. Apparently, the combination resulted in a very sumptuous meal.
The very first fish and chips shop was located in the Northern part of England – specifically in Mossely. This was back in 1863. It was a Mr Lees who sold the dish from a wooden hut. When it became a hit, Mr Lees turned it into a permanent shop. The shop proudly displayed that it was the “first fish and chip shop in the world”.
In London, the first shop was opened by Joseph Malin – in 1860. That means this shop was considered to be the first – and not the one opened in Mossely. Regardless of where it started, most of the shops were family owned. This is probably why there were so many shops back then. Families turned the front room of their house into a fish and chips shop.
The industrial population continued to opt for this takeaway meal – since it was easy to eat and convenient too.
All about fish and chips
The popularity of fish and chips are actually brought about by the ease of preparation, the price and the fact that it can be nutritious. Although it is fried, the fish is a good source of protein and fibre. It is also a source of iron and vitamins. The potatoes have its own set of nutritious elements as well.Cooking this dish is simple – it is fried in lard. The choice of fish varies on the location but it the most popular options are cod and haddock. White fish is preferred for this dish. The batter of the fish is a combination of water, flour, vinegar, and baking soda. Sometimes, other ingredients are added like beer or milk. When it comes to the chips, it is usually cut thicker than the average American french fries.
Fish and chips in the UK are sometimes sprinkled with salt and vinegar for added taste. It can also come with a serving of coleslaw or mushy peas. The siding will vary based on preference and of course, where it is served. But one this is for certain, this dish will always be one of the most popular meals for the common folk in the UK.