When the Boat Comes In
23 Nov 2009
Colmans, an award-winning Geordie chippy with a sustainable fish sourcing policy, sets the standard
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Colmans, an award-winning Geordie chippy with a sustainable fish sourcing policy, sets the standard.
Autumn walks on the beach and winter ales always leave me craving a tasty fish supper. However, these days I’m left with a bitter taste as my conscience reminds me of dwindling fish stocks. I decided to investigate: is there a route back to the good old days of plenty more fish in the sea’?
The Brits love to dunk their chips in ketchup but the fact is, it’s just not the same without a piece of battered fish on the side. How are we to know what’s good and what’s not? Whose responsibility is it anyway? I was totally unsure what to doÖ until, that is, I discovered Colmans Fish and Chips!
‘It’s simple,’ says Colmans proprietor Richard Ord. ‘Just ask! If your chippy can’t tell you exactly what boat it comes off, talk to them about improving and if they resist, shop elsewhere.’
Colmans is a 100-year-old, fourth generation fish and chip shop in South Shields. ‘It all started in 1905 on the sea-front,’ says Richard proudly. ‘We’ve only ever done fish and chips, we do it simple and we do it well.’ He points to their procurement policy on the wall: ‘Every fish and chip shop should have one. If you can’t see it, ask for it. Anyone worth their salt will proudly hang theirs on their wall.’
‘There is plenty of help available for consumers and suppliers alike. Both the Marine Stewardship Council and Marine Conservation Society provide plenty of information on sustainable fish and their suppliers, while Seafish provide a range of responsible sourcing guides for fish and chip shops. They also run the Friers Quality Award, helping to raise standards across the industry.‘
What about the health aspects of all that fat and the issue of taking time’ versus take-away’? ‘Fish and Chips are not fast food,’ Richard says with a firmness that reveals his genuine passion. ‘It’s five simple ingredients,’ and he counts them off on his fingers. ‘Fish, water, flour, potatoes and a good quality oil. When cooked properly, they total just 7.3 per cent fat, a perfectly acceptable part of a healthy diet and much better than most of the high street fast food stores we so often get compared to.’
Well, that’s music to our ears but does it mean we all have to travel to South Shields just to get some decent fish and chips? ‘No,’ says Richard. ‘Colmans are not the only ones. The industry is getting into shape and it’s all about asking the right questions ñ if enough people demand it, things will change and with help from folk like the people at Seafish, I feel very optimistic about the future.’
10 Sustainable Fish
1 Cod (line caught Icelandic)
2 Haddock (line caught Icelandic)
9 Brown Crab
10 Lemon Sole (seine caught)
5 Questions to Ask
1 Is this fish from sustainable fishing grounds?
2 Does your supplier have a responsible sourcing policy?
3 Are your fish Marine Stewardship Council certified?
4 Do you have any locally caught fish?
5 How was this fish caught?
For Colmans Gurnard, beer battered
fish and mushy peas recipes go to:
Contact: Colmans Fish and Chips,
182–184 Ocean Road, South Shields,
Tyne and Wear, NE33 2JQ
Tel: +44 (0)191 456 1202
Feature courtesy of Sustained Magazine
Colmans are Number 1!
Photo: © Colmans Fish and Chips
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