I was lucky enough to be invited to Canteen to a Fish and Chip master class by Cass Titcombe the Baker Street branch of Canteen. After a brief introduction we were introduced to Cass Titcombe, who gave a quick run through of what makes good fish and chips.
Now been from Yorkshire, I truly believe that I know good fish and chips from a good 50 yards. Fish and Chips are somewhat of an institution back up in the Shire and were always the takeaway of choice in our house when I was growing up. Mind you that was probably due to the fact that there wasn’t really that much takeaway choice in a village which was miles away from civilisation, and the local Chip shop was the closest at some 3 miles away. Anyway I’m digressing, back to the evening at Canteen.
Mr Titcombe gave us a brief lowdown on how they make fish and chips at Canteen explaining that instead of a batter they use breadcrumbs, as it produces a less greasy finished product and also is far less messy in a busy kitchen. I must admit, I did slightly recoil in horror when the word ‘breadcrumbs’ was spoken. Breaded fish, what kind of Fish and Chip master class is the first thing that sprang to mind. Whilst I was recoiling in horror about been served a piece of breaded fish, we were told about how they cook their chips twice at two different temperatures to get the perfect chip – soft and fluffy in the inside and crispy on the outside. Thankfully Cass added that we would be also served a piece of battered fish as well - I was pacified. Not only this but also there would be mushy peas to accompany the fish and chips. Now I love mushy peas, always have done. For me there is no other accompiment for Fish and Chips apart from Mushy Peas, Sorry but Curry Sauce and Gravy just don’t cut it as an accompaniment for Fish and chips at all for me, it’s a whole level of wrongness.
So the verdict, okay it wasn’t a good piece of plaice or haddock cooked in batter in beef dripping like it is at the Magpie Cafe on Whitby or even Eastholme Drive Chippie in Rawcliffe where my dad use to get ours on a Friday evening when we were kids. But then I’ve been spoilt when it comes to fish and chips. Instead I was pleasantly surprised to taste a good piece of fish, that had been cooked well and the breadcrumbs gave it a finish that didn’t leave you feeling that had just ingested half a gallon of oil and your arteries hadn’t hardened up in seconds have consuming. Oh and no heartburn or indigestion, a sure sign of good Fish and chips according to my old dear. Extra points are given of course for the big bowls of Mushy Peas which were placed on the table as well. I could even go as far as saying that they were probably the best fish and chips I have tasted in the barren wasteland of good fish and chips otherwise known as the South. (Sorry as much as I hate been regionalist about things, I’m afraid that you just can’t get great fish and chips south of Sheffield in my humble onion).
Many Thanks to Cass Titcombe and Canteen for the master class, dinner and a copy of the Canteen recipe book which they have just released. (A great book full of good Seasonal British recipes, all of which are easy to follow)
Mushy Peas - food of the gods .....
Dried Marrowfat Peas
Big pinch of Bicarbonate of Soda
Malt Vinegar to taste (optional)
Salt and White Pepper
1.Place the dried peas in a pan and cover with twice their volume of cold water. Add Bicarbonate of Soda and leave to soak over night.
2.The next day, place the pan on the heat and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 45 minutes or until the peas are soft stirrirng regularly. During cooking add more water if the pan looks too dry.
3.Season to taste with salt and pepper and a splash of malt vinegar to taste if you like.
Recipe from Canteen – Great British Food by Cass Titcombe, Dominic Lake and Patrick Clayton-Malone.