Do you know how much hard work and skill goes into frying an award-winning portion of fish and chips? This week, we found out after spending a day learning all the tricks of the trade at the National Federation of Fish Friers workshop.
Award winners Craig Buckley from The Fish Bar in Crewe and Mark Drummond of Towngate Fisheries hosted the day for fish and chips students and manufacturers wishing to learn more about this thriving industry, which contributes more than £1bn to the UK economy. The one-day workshop covered everything from cutting and de-boning raw fillets to making batter, preparing chips, health and hygiene, and caring for potatoes.
Here are our highlights and a few things took away…
Caring for potatoes – the perfect temperature for a spud is around 10 degrees – any colder and the potato will release undesirable sugars, changing the taste and quality of the chip. Be wary of piling spuds too high in storage – if you don’t use them fast enough they will bruise under the pressure.
Smaller portions – There is a huge push in the sector right now towards smaller portion sizes. Craig says the ideal chips portion size for his customers is about 10oz but many are serving up to 20-30oz. It’s worth noting that wastage can really impact margin – Craig says just three wasted chips per customer can loose a fish and chip shop thousands of pounds a year.
The perfect batter – batter should be freshly made and never kept for more than a day. The consistency should reasonably runny, a little like single cream, so don’t over whisk! If you like your batter extra crispy, use fizzy water, it’s much cheaper than beer and delivers the same crispy result.
Time to fry – after a generous dunk in batter, fry the fish skin-side down to avoid curling. Don’t let the tip splash in the oil otherwise you’ll get an uneven batter spread. If your batter is thin you will get an excellent crisp finish, but a thicker mix will deliver a heavier coating (with a potentially raw centre!).
The oil debate – rapeseed oils are not popular with Craig who says that after using it multiple times, the oil breaks down and becomes an unstable fat making it no healthier than beef dripping or palm oil. Healthier options are more about smaller portion sizes, he says, adding that a small portion of fish and chips can contain just 900 calories and 10g fat if prepared correctly.
If anyone is interested in attending the NFFF fish and chip workshop in future, please contact Terry Larkin Terrence.Larkin@jjfoodservice.com