ASK THE EXPERTS, Helen Edmonds - Editor Fry Magazine
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be in your current role?
I've always been in either PR or journalism and I was on maternity leave when the opportunity of editor at Fry Magazine came up. I've always loved fish and chips so having the chance to write about them and, of course, eat a fair few portions made it an easy decision. Two children and seven years later, I'm still here and it's just the best industry to be in. There are so many passionate people who want to move fish and chips forward.
So as the expert that you are (we bet there isn’t anyone else that has tasted more fish and chips than you), what is your favourite fish for fish and chips, and why?
Before becoming editor for Fry I have to admit that I was a die-hard cod fan, but having had the opportunity to try so many more species I would say, without a doubt, it's hake. It's very similar to cod but it's much sweeter. And the great thing about hake is that it is in plentiful supply in the waters around the UK, which means it's widely available and, therefore, more prevalent on menus now. If you've not tried it, make sure you do.
It’s all about ‘Ugly’ veg this year, so what’s the ugliest fish you have encountered?
I'm used to seeing fish filleted, battered and perfectly cooked alongside a portion of salt and vinegar soaked chips and mushy peas, but about a year or so ago I was fortunate enough to visit Peterhead in Scotland. It's the largest whitefish port in the UK and I was able to see just how stunning the likes of fresh cod, haddock and hake look. However, I did also come face-to-face with monkfish and, thankfully, I can say it tastes a whole lot better than it looks. Check out its cousin - the stargazer - if you get a chance too. That's one ugly family!
What significant change have you seen in the industry in adhering to the issue of sustainability in the fish and chip market?
Probably the increased interest in MSC (Marine Stewardship Council). Both in terms of shops sourcing MSC certified fish and also shops undergoing MSC certification themselves as they see the benefits of communicating the eco label to their customers.
And lastly...do you have any trend predictions for 2016 in the world of fish and chips?
In the past, fish and chips has taken a bit of a battering for being unhealthy, but it's actually one of the healthiest takeaways you can eat, being lower in calories than most of its fast food rivals. I think 2016 is the year in which we'll really be able to bring this message home as Seafish is just wrapping up an extensive project which has nutritionally analysed over 400 samples of fish and chips cooked in all manner of different ways. The results will provide us with an arsenal of information to back up what we already know and enable us to communicate that message to the consumer.
If you were going to have your last fish supper, whom would you invite?
Russell Brand and Keith Lemon. The conversations would be hilarious and I'm sure there wouldn't be a shortage of fishy jokes.