Posted 17th Jan 2014
Since 1988, fish and chip shops across the UK have been battling it out to prove they're worth their salt (and vinegar) in the annual Fish and Chip Awards competition. The Friday night treat has become a national institution, with over 150 years of rich history, still coming up tops as one of Britain's best-loved dishes
Started by fish friers themselves, The National Fish and Chip competition is still going strong, celebrating its 26th anniversary this year on 22nd January. Organised by Seafish, the awards celebrate the great British tradition of fish and chips with the aim of rewarding the very best businesses and friers around the country.
Not just a simple dish, fish and chips have a long and fascinating history, well known for boosting morale through two world wars as one of the few foods not rationed. The familiar smell of the fish and chop shop evokes memories in all of us, whether it's the joy of eating chips straight out of the paper, tucking into a crispy piece of cod with lashings of sauce, or savouring the taste of extra mushy peas.
Its journey to the dish we love today was an interesting one, though its exact origins are not quite known. Its history is thought to date back to the 17th century, when the chip is believed to have been invented as a substitute for fish when resources were low, though the first mention of a fried chip in Britain was in chef Alexis Soyer's recipe book, Shilling cookery, in 1854. Fried fish were introduced into Britain by Jewish refugees from Europe around the same time and soon street merchants were selling the delicacy, usually displayed on large trays hung from their necks accompanied by bread. Early chippies began popping up in the mid-1800s, with the first shops opening in Lancashire and London, though which was first is a debate still going on today!
The Fish and Chip Awards have become increasingly popular, with 14 categories to enter including Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year, Best Seasonal Fish and Chip Operator, From Field to Frier Award, Young Fish Frier of the Year Award, and the Good Catch Award. This year the awards ceremony will take place in London hosted by celebrity chef Jean Christophe Novelli. For more details visit www.fishandchipawards.com.
Did you know...?
- Cod was the number one fish choice in 1987, followed by haddock - the same as it is today
- More than 276 million fish and chip meals are eaten every year from almost 10,500 fish and chip shops around the country
- The largest ever portion of fish and chips weighed 47.75 kg (served by Fish and Chips @ LTD in London on 30th July 2012 - a finalist in the 2013 Best Newcomer Award category)
- The record number of chip portions sold in a fish and chip shop in one day was 4,000
- An 11-stone halibut was recently caught off the Shetland coast. It was estimated to be 50 years old and was sold to the Crabshakk seafood restaurant in Glasgow for £950, where it was then made into 300 portions and dished up to customers
By Natalie Mason