In my neighborhood plaza there are two places for good take-out food. At one end there’s great Jamaican-style jerk sandwiches and at the other, fabulous English-style fish & chips. Both places have been named “Best in the city” for their signature dishes.
I’ve never doubted their claims of authenticity. Mind you, in the Jamaica where I grew up, there never was a jerked chicken sandwich but the spices were authentic and it is a delicious sandwich.
I’ve never questioned English-style Fish & Chips because they were the same as what I’ve had everywhere else in Canada – fillets of white fish (cod, haddock or halibut) cooked in a crunchy batter with chunky cut potatoes. I had heard about other unusual English habits. Like dousing their meal with brown sauce (which tasted like A1 steak sauce) and eating mushy peas (which tasted nothing like peas) but I’d assumed that the mainstays were the same in Canada and England.
All this changed when I watched this show “The Best Fish and Chips in London.”
The first thing I noted was all the greenery on the plate. There was the mushy peas but also fresh green salad. The mix-up of healthy and fried is a big no-no in restaurants here. If you must have salad with your fries, then you have to pay extra for it, and eat it on the side.
As for the mushy peas … is it supposed to touch the fries?! Truth be told, I’ve never been sure what to do with mushy peas. Is it to be eaten separately (like mashed potatoes), nibbled on (like coleslaw) or smeared on (like tartar sauce)?
The second thing was astonishingly different. The fish was cooked with its skin on! Never have I ever seen English-style fish with the skin on.
Now, let’s be clear. I have nothing against the skin. Cooking and eating the whole fish is normal in Chinese cuisine. However, I’ve come to expect English-style fish to be deboned, deskinned and flakey white. This video turned all my assumptions upside down.
I also noticed that the video hosts did not eat the skin. If I had to eat five plates of fish & chips in a row, I would leave bits behind too. But given that my world is already upside down, I wonder if it’s normal in England, to not eat the skin?
So faithful readers, I have questions for you.
In your part of the world, how is English-style fish & chips cooked? With or without the skin?
If it is cooked with the skin, do you eat it or leave it behind?
How do you eat mushy peas?
Is mushy peas supposed to taste like green peas?