With so many varieties of fish and seafood available, we take a look at which species some of the leading fish and chip shops are putting on their menus as alternatives to options such as cod, haddock, tuna, salmon and prawns
SIMON WALSH, LONGSANDS FISH KITCHEN, TYNEMOUTH, NORTH SHIELDS
Favourite alternative: Monkfish, it has a very mild flavour and texture that is similar to lobster. The good thing about fresh monkfish is it has a light flavour, acceptable to most people, including those who avoid "fishy-tasting" fish.
Best way to prep and cook: Monkfish is very versatile, but to keep it simple, we take it off the bone and remove the skin and then deep fry it in a panko breadcrumb.
Best served with: Because of how meaty it is, it can take some powerful flavours so we serve it in a taco, with salsa Mexicana, salsa Arbol and white cabbage. Customers love it when we offer seafood alternatives to cod and haddock.
Selling price: We sell this at £7.50 and if people want chips as well it takes the total to £9.50. The profit is a bit better than cod and chips.
Top tip to encourage customers to try: Social media is a very powerful tool. As soon as we post a picture of a special dish we straight away see an uptake in sales in the restaurant and takeaway. Also, in the takeaway, we have specials posters next to the till to catch people’s eyes. But the best way of promotion is the staff up-selling so before we open we let them have a taste to get them excited and then they really push the specials.
GARY MORETON-JONES, THE FISHERMAN'S KITCHEN, SOUTHSEA, PORTSMOUTH
Favourite alternative: Whiting fillet. It has the same texture as cod but the flakes are a lot smaller so you get more of them and the flavour is a bit sweeter, so it’s a great alternative. We buy fresh, locally sourced whiting although it’s a little bit seasonal, so there are sometimes of the year when it’s not so plentiful.
Best way to prep and cook: It’s a cod ling kind of size, so a bit smaller than cod, but otherwise it looks exactly the same as you can fillet it and pin bone it and treat it the same. We flour it and batter it - it’s that simple.
Best served with: A scoop of chips and our pea puree or one of our homemade seasonal salads.
Selling price: £6.50. It actually works out a little bit cheaper than cod or haddock to buy. Whereas an 8oz cod fillet will cost us about £1.95, whiting comes in at £1.35 for the same size fillet.
Top tip to encourage customers to try: We did a starter version where we cut the fillet in half, battered it and served it with tartare sauce, pea puree and a few pea shoots. That way customers could have that as their fish and chips flavour and have grilled fish as a main course. Our front-of-house staff are always good at describing whiting too and they make sure they tell customers it's from the south coast as they do tend to prefer fish when it’s on their doorstep.
CRAIG MAW, KINGFISHER FISH & CHIPS, PLYMOUTH, DEVON
Favourite alternative: Hake - MSC certified Cornish hake to be precise. It is delicious in flavour and texture and because it’s locally sourced, it is very popular.
Best way to prep and cook: It arrives fresh from the market to us in large whole fillets with the skin on and the bone in. We skin it, take out the bones and cut it into 5-6oz (140g-170g) portions. We offer all our fish in our bespoke batter, grilled, poached or in panko breadcrumbs.
Best served with: Chunky cut chips and homemade mushy peas, a sprinkling of salt and vinegar and some homemade tartare sauce. Oh, and a wedge of lemon.
Selling price: We usually bundle this up as a meal, somewhere between £7 and £7.50 depending on market prices. As it’s a special, we can be more fluid with our pricing.
Top tip to encourage customers to try: Get your customer to try some samples by having some small goujons ready to hand out. Once they have tried something different and realise they like it they will be sure to give it a try.
JASON LEESE, LAKESIDE FISH & CHIPS, POOLE, DORSET
Favourite alternative: We have had the opportunity recently to sell local MSC certified clams from the Dorset Shell Fish company. This fishery has just opened so being sustainable and local is great. Plus, they are sweeter than cockles with a less chewy texture. They never get left on the plate and are always eaten with gusto!
Best way to prep and cook: We purg them in water for a few hours to make sure no grit is in them from our lovely natural Poole Harbour and then we steam them with scallops in our Rational steam oven. Some customers have them as a side dish to complement the classic cod and chips, others have them as a main course.
Best served with: Chips or seasonal salad and warm, fresh poppy seeded bread to mop up the cider and hint of garlic sauce.
Selling price: We sell them as a starter or main course £6.95-£12.95 respectively. We always work on a margin close to cod or haddock, this has been our business model since 1987.
Top tip to encourage customers to try: The team always offer the specials and explain they are from our harbour, which I think is quite special when low tide outside the restaurant exposes the mud flats.
TIFFANY IRVIN, THE FISH WORKS, LARGS, AYRSHIRE
Favourite alternative: Lemon Sole because of its light texture and its fine flakes. Of all the alternative species we do, that’s definitely become the biggest seller.
Best way to prep and cook: It comes in fresh from Peterhead already filleted and ready to go. We rice flour it to take off some of the moisture, put a thin layer of batter and then coat it in panko breadcrumbs. It’s such a light fish that if you just battered and fried it, it would curl up.
Best served with: Chips, homemade mushy peas and tartare sauce. But we are getting customers order our Irish curry sauce to go with it too as it has that sweeter, katsu taste which goes really well with the panko breadcrumbs
Selling price: £5.90 or we offer The Full Works which is with chips for £7.90. It is slightly more expensive to buy than cod and haddock, so it’s priced about 50p more on the menu but customers are aware of this and don’t mind the slight price difference.
Top tip to encourage customers to try: It does take people a while to come round to new species but we handed out tasters, which definitely made people more inclined to order it. For our regulars, we also pop a wee piece for them to try in with their order and we often have people come back and say “that was lovely can we have that this time”.
HARRY NIAZI, OLLEY'S FISH EXPERIENCE, HERNE HILL, SOUTH LONDON
Favourite alternative: The newest fish that is growing in popularity every day is sea trout. It looks and tastes just like salmon but it’s creamier and sweeter. And it’s very sustainable.
Best way to prep and cook: We buy it in fresh, filleted and pin-boned but with the skin on as this helps us tell the difference between our salmon and sea trout. We fry it in a light batter but also we grill it. We put a little extra salt on the skin so that when it’s grilled it becomes like a crisp. It looks and tastes great and it’s important that we use every part of the fish.
Best served with: Chips, but also proving popular are our new potatoes and salad as customers opt for a lighter option.
Selling price: We put it on as a special on Tuesdays only at £13 with chips and homemade mushy peas. We always aim for the same margin as cod and haddock.
Top tip to encourage customers to try: We tell customers if they like salmon then they will like sea trout. If they are still apprehensive then we’ll cook up a sample for them to try alongside their usual order and encourage them to buy it next time.