“Fish and chips are part of our DNA in Britain,” says David Miller, owner of 2018’s National Fish and Chip Shop of the Year, Miller’s Fish & Chips in Haxby, North Yorkshire. “The dish evokes nostalgia – everyone can remember their first experience of fish and chips.”
From fine dining at top restaurants to Friday night dinner from the local chippy, fish and chips is the original everyman dish. A social spectrum-straddling combo that David says is only as good as its raw ingredients. And for the family business owner, that means sourcing his fish from Norway.
With its brutally cold temperatures and rough climate, certain parts of Norway are considered inhospitable for humans – but these unforgiving qualities also make Norway perfect for seafood.
The country’s coastline, with its little islands and deep, sheltered fjords, is the ideal environment for seafood to thrive. Norway is situated where the warm Gulf Stream and Arctic waters meet, creating the perfect mix of currents and temperatures to support a wide variety of fish and shellfish.
Norwegians have been fishing for thousands of years – becoming invaluable to the Norwegian economy. At the same time, a deep love of the sea is embedded in Norwegian culture. And a culture that relies on the sea is also one that respects it.
“The Norwegians have been practicing sustainability for years,” says David. “It is their livelihood.” The practice is important to David, too, who spends time touring schools to educate children on the importance of responsible fishing. “It is my future – my son’s future,” he says of Nick, the next generation of Miller, who works alongside him.
Communicating sustainability, believes David, is also a key part of “enticing younger people to fish and chips”. “They want to know everything about where their food is coming from,” he adds.
From pioneering management and regulations to diverse fishing fleets, everything the Norwegians do has sustainability at its heart – and all Norwegian cod and haddock is MSC-certified. For the Millers, sustainable sourcing means line-caught fish that is landed by a team working to Norway’s strict quotas and traceability rules.
David is in direct contact with his skipper and their team via WhatsApp. “I can communicate quickly and easily if there are any problems,” he says.
In fact, it is common practice in Norway to be able to track fish stock back to the precise vessel from which it was caught. The Miller family has been out on his Norwegian skipper’s fishing boat and David says he was “blown away by the passion” of the team.“We have a duty to the fishermen who work so hard and take pride,” he explains.
Fish are frozen at sea, a practice that is now considered to be one of the best and most consistent sources of supply to the UK’s fish and chip shops. At Miller’s, David says the secret to his award-winning fish and chips is attention to detail. “When it comes to prep, we try to look after the fish,” he says. “We don’t defrost them too fast and we cook as close to order as possible to maintain the taste. We defrost in batches for different periods of the day.”
The benefits of using frozen-at-sea produce include locking in the fish’s freshness, nutrients and taste without compromising on quality. “I like the way the fish comes out – plump and very white,” says David. “It is fresher than fresh.”
Other benefits include a relatively stable price and an extended shelf life. Supply can be provided throughout the year, eliminating the impacts of seasonal fluctuations, and there is minimal wastage as the fish can be defrosted as required.
Whether you choose seafood from Norway for its superior quality, green credentials or simply for the story, you will be sourcing ingredients from a country where people take great pride in their rich fishing heritage. The Norwegian Seafood Council encourages chefs and restaurants to be proud to cite ‘Norwegian’ produce on the menu.
After all, fishing in Norway is not just an industry, it is part of the country’s DNA.
For more information on Seafood from Norway click here