How to eat fish and chips

How to eat fish and chips? Is there a correct way? And if so what should it be served with? Can you substitute fish for other things? All of this and more in ou how to eat fish and chips guide.

Growing up fish and chips was a big deal to a Londoner, particularly on Fridays (something to do with god). Aside from a kebab proper English fish and chips is one of my first go to foods when I’m in the UK. Here’s how to eat the original British street food, from the original street food guy!

What is fish and chips?

fish and chips
The fish part

It’s fish (duh), usually cod, although haddock, rock and skate are all found in a British chippy (more on that later).

Is fish and chips served in newspaper?

No, and it hasn’t for a long long time, but it used to be in the old days. Turns out ink and chips don’t mix. I did though recently eat Num Pang in Cambodia that was wrapped in waste paper. It is still a thing out east.

What are chips?

Chips and french fries are distant cousins, not brothers. A chip is thick cut, deep fried and a bit greasy. A french fry on the other hand almost hardly tastes like a potato at all. As in the crap they serve at McDonalds, or KFC. The British make the best chips, no question.

How to eat fish and chips – correct condiments

chips and gravy

What to eat on my fish and chips? Salt and vinegar, yes we put vinegar on chips. It’s freaking awesome. Try it. Also, and although usually associated with kebabs we like burger sauce.

Of course when it comes to what to put on your fish and chips there is no right, or wrong answer and everyone is different. Ketchup is obviously popular with it, as is the very British brown sauce (also good with haggis)

As you will have seen from the picture we also like gravy with our chips. It is though different to poutine, as we do not include cheese. Poutine is great, but it is its own thing. Chips and gravy served from a Chinese restaurant is a VERY different thing that you can read about here.

But! No self respecting Englishman would ever serve fish and chips with mayonnaise, we are not some Belgium savages!

I wonder where that fish did go, a fishy fishy fishy oh!

Fish is deep fried in batter, and eaten with tartare sauce. We like to batter things in the UK, but particularly in Scotland. There they will literally batter everything, even a Mars Bar (no it is not nice). I recently discovered frog deep fried in batter in Phnom Peng. Kind of made me homesick.

You can read about deep fried frog here

What if I don’t like fish?

Burgers, sausages, deep friend sausages, and saveloy. A saveloy is a very English sausage generally only found in a chippy. The bright red saveloy was originally made with pig brains, but is now just regular pork. Saveloy and chips is my go to food.

Aside from that I’d suggest either a Pukka Pie, or a battered sausage. In may respects there are now so many things that go with chips, that more often than not ditching the fish for something else is a great choice.

How to eat fish and chips? – Regional varieties

Cod is a big deal in the UK, in fact such a big deal that we even had a war over it. Well, kinda. You can read about the Cod Wars here.

If you are in most parts of the UK, particularly the South and South-East the “fish” in fish and chips is by default cod. Haddock is popular in the north of England, whilst in Ireland they serve ray. Coley is a cod like fish that is often served unwittingly to customers! Coley is no cod!

In Australia and New Zealand they use all manor of fish, including a form of shark! As for the rest of the world? It really does depend on where you are, but you can find literally any white fish as part of a fish and chip dish!

What else do I need to know?

Every chippy has its nuances, but my favourites are mushy pea fritters, and a pickled egg! Although with the pickled egg, or pickled onion it is to accompany the main dishes, rather than to replace the fish.

Is fish and chips fine dining?

It’s fine dining, street food and everything in between. In fact fish and chips was originally invented and served in London as a street food. Hence its association of being served in old newspapers. Nowadays though you will find upscale restaurants in big cities serving an expensive and gentrified version.

But how do I eat fish and chips? AKA how to eat fish and chips properly?

Easy tiger! We eat it like sophisticats! From the paper, in the streets, and with our hands. This is real deal Street Food UK! Even if you take it home, as is common, the correct way to eat fish and chips is to put it on a plate, but still in its original packing. The plate thus protecting you from the sauces, such as vinegar that you add.

Let’s be honest they will go hipster on anything, but to me at least it will always rank as the quintessential British street food.

Read about the best British street foods here.

How do you eat fish properly (for fish and chips)?

Again when it comes to fish and chips, there are different ways to correctly eat the fish. Knife and fork is obviously acceptable, but how to eat the fish if you are outside. First let it cool down, or you will get burnt. After that the batter makes it easy to rip into pieces, which can then be dipped in the sauce of your choice. The recommended sauce for fish is tartare sauce.

The current fish and chips crisis!

While not wanting to downplay the war between Russia and Ukraine at all, it has caused a number of unexpected issues, one of which directly affects the supply chains and the very existence of the British fish and chip shop.

According to the ever reliable Daily Mail up to 1/3 of chippies could under unless a way to get Sunflower Oil, Cod and Haddock is addressed. Therefore the question might not be how do you eat fish and chips, but if you can eat fish and chips. These truly are strange times.

Your favourite chip shop?

Anchor Sea Fry in Lordswood! If for nothing else, the memories of a Street Food Guy! Either that, or literally anywhere on the Isle of Sheppey.

To read my street food guide to Sheppey Click here.

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