I was in Hastings for a few days on business and most of my personal time was spent seeking out fish and chips. With no fewer than twenty-five fish-and-chips shops (known as chippys or chippers) in this small seaside town, my mission for eating fish and chips should be an easy one to complete. I visited two on this trip as well as another seafood bar right down on the water. The variety of seafood available is impressive, with some of the available options seeming a bit unusual to outsiders like me. Options like cockles and jellied eels.
While on my first mission for fish and chips, my friend Jenny and I made a quick stop at Shores Seafood Bar for a snack. Jenny opted for some cockles which are small, saltwater clams, and I being a bit more adventurous opted for the aforementioned jellied eels, freshwater eels chopped, boiled in fish stock, and chilled in an aspic jelly. The cockles were quite good actually, salty, tender, and flavorful. The jellied eels, however, were fishy and quite challenging. The spine of the eel is intact in the middle of the eel and the exterior texture of the eel, the skin, is rather chewy. I'm glad I tried the jellied eels but won't be ordering them again. Our mission for fish and chips continues...
On the recommendation of the guy at Shores, we ended up at the Promenade Fish Bar just down the street. Promenade Fish Bar & Restaurant is located just across from the beach and on this rare, dry, sunny and warm day in southern England, we each ordered some battered cod and chips and ate outside on the patio. With the taste of jellied eels still a recent memory, this fried cod and chips was just what the doctor ordered. Perfectly fried, beer battered cod and real English chips, generously salted and doused with malt vinegar, just like the English do. You won't find many people in these parts eating their chips with tomato Ketchup. Its fish and chips with malt vinegar or nothing around here.
With our first fish and chips mission complete, Jenny and I went about our business in Hastings and continued our Tour de Chippys the next day. With the usual rainy, cold English weather back in place on our last day in Hastings, we opted for some take-away fish and chips from another local chipper, Smiffy's Chippy. Smiffy's batter is a bit crispier than Promenades, less beer and more breading; still outstanding fish and chips. At Smiffy's, Jenny and I both opted for fried haddock and chips since Smiffy told us the haddock had just come in off the boat. Fresh fish! Smiffy's fried haddock and chips were also salted well and once again doused in malt vinegar. I don't necessarily agree with the message printed on Smiffy's take-away bag, "The healthiest meal for all the family", but I will say that this was some real fine fish and chips.