“WHO BATTERS FISH WITH THE SKIN ON?” I interrogate my mother down the phone. Mr K and I had just finished off a very disappointing meal of take-away fish and chips from the local chippy on Turnham Green. A chippy that had previously been very good. I did ask if they could batter some fish without the skin and they said no. I very nearly ordered a battered sausage out of protest.
“Every time I’ve had fish it’s had the skin on.” she replies.
“You’re a vegetarian! You don’t even eat fish.” came my response.
All Mr K could say was “you wouldn’t get skin on up North”, and his mate via text muscled in on the debate with “who the f**k wants to eat the skin?”. I would hazard a guess that 70% of the battered fish that I order (rarely - we very rarely a) eat out, b) eat out and I order fish and chips, and c) even rarer, get takeout) comes without skin. Which is a good sign… and makes me even the more angrier and appalled when I am given a battered fillet of fish with the skin still on. Underneath the batter.
Let me tell you the main points of my fish-stration. I’m telling you, the skin does NOT add ‘extra flavour’. And for my Dad who says “it’s extra protein” - well, I’m eating fish which is enough protein in one sitting. Without the skin.
Secondly, obviously because no one is crazy enough to eat fish skin, you have to do the peeling off yourself, also taking away half the batter. Which ultimately, let’s face it, is the reason why you’ve ordered the battered fish in the first place. Because you’re feeling hungry and naughty and you keep telling yourself/ your Instagram fitness pals that ‘tonights a cheat meal’ and you’re going to tuck into a lump of oily batter (and fish skin) longer than your arm. And enjoy it. But you’ve got to leave half of it behind, and stare down at your plate of white cod (side of batter on the bottom), and you might as well have ordered a pan fried fillet of cod with sautéed leeks (clearly the healthier option by about 10,000 calories).
This has always been a sore point for me. A year ago we were sat having dinner in a pub near Putney Bridge whilst watching an ‘open mic night’ for comedy. The comedy was surprisingly good considering that anyone could stand up and do a 10-minute set - and one act saw our (finished) plates and asked if we’d had a good meal. I pointed out to the whole crowd there that there had been skin on the battered fish, and ‘who batters fish with the skin on?’. The crowd thought it rather funny - and I was careful not to order a dessert in case the chef took his anger out on it.
Fish and Chips were listed Number 1 in the nation’s best British foods - NUMBER 1 (Roast dinners came second). I sure as hell think it wasn’t because you get free skin with your fish. And whilst skin-or-no-skin isn’t a mentioned factor (it clearly should be), I’m positive that Simpson’s of Cheltenham, winner of the 2016 National Fish & Chip Awards always peel off both sides of skin from their prize-winning fish.
the crazy happenings in my life