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Golden delicious

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Larry's Fishcake

Some trends come and go but fishcakes will always be a favourite in fish and chip shops. We look at some of the latest innovations 

Fishcakes have been a part of British cuisine for centuries, favoured for their sustainable and budget-friendly attributes stemming from the fact they utilise leftover fish and potatoes. 

While traditional varieties such as cod or haddock remain chip shops staples, new variations have emerged utilising different species of fish, exotic flavours, a range of coatings as well as melt-in-the-middle textures. These add a unique twist to the classic fishcake and cater to different dietary preferences, says Craig Foster, owner of Larry’s Fishcakes, one of the UK’s oldest manufacturers of fishcakes.

“Fishcakes are so adaptable for every occasion,” he says. “A kid’s tea with chips and beans or between two slices of heavily buttered white bread for a snack, a light lunch of a smoked haddock fishcake with chips or a main meal of a salmon and broccoli fishcake with new potatoes and fresh peas. They are the perfect size for a chippy tea and reasonably priced for everyone’s budget, which has recently become so much more important.”

New varieties

Suppliers of readymade fishcakes are not only delivering on ease of preparation – doing away with boiling mash and mincing fish – but coming up trumps with new varieties so that menus stay fresh and up-to-date. 

Frozen food supplier Paramount 21, for example, has utilised different species of fish but also incorporated a range of coatings so that all its fishcakes are gluten free and can be enjoyed by coeliacs. Its sea bass fishcake, a combination of cod, ginger and lime, comes uncoated, while its Thai-style cod and prawn version features a seasoned paprika and parsley flecked crispy gluten free batter. And for a real show stopper, there’s a melt-in-the-middle MSC haddock, salmon and asparagus fishcake that is filled with a tarragon sauce and coated in a gluten free breadcrumb. It’s been deemed so good that this month it won a Taste of the West Silver Medal.

As well as tasting great, customers are demanding fishcakes that look great too, says Craig of Larry’s Fishcakes. Its flagship cod and parsley fishcake, plus its two gluten free versions – cod, and smoked haddock and salmon, hit both of these notes, standing up to the rigours of a fish and chip shop environment. 

Craig adds: “A good fishcake should fry evenly to a rich golden brown colour without bursting out of the coating. It should be crisp to bite into with a soft centre tasting of fresh fish and potato with nothing other than a little seasoning to make the flavour perfect.”

When adding fishcakes to the menu, Julian Fletcher, marketing director at Young’s Foodservice, recommends shops offer a range of sizes to suit all ages and appetites. It’s why its King Frost range includes three choices: standard-sized King Frost Lincolnshire Fishcakes, Jumbo Lincolnshire Fishcakes for those that like a little more, and the King Frost Mega Fishcakes for larger appetites.

This not only keeps all customers satisfied but also significantly reduces the amount of waste, says Julian. He adds: “Whichever size customers choose, fish friers can be confident that all of the sizes in the King Frost range can be cooked from frozen at 180°C, in a matter of minutes (five minutes for standard, six minutes for Jumbo and seven minutes for mega size), ensuring that cooking to order is always easy.

“This is also an effective way to reduce waste which can often happen when pre-cooking stock.”

Reducing waste was a factor in John Molnar’s decision to downsize the homemade fishcakes on sale across his restaurants and takeaways in Nottingham and Birmingham. Making anywhere up to 1,200 fishcakes at once, The Cod’s Scallops now sells two 3.5-4oz fishcakes to a portion rather than one chunkier one. 

“When we used to do the big ones, they took too long to cook to order so we would have to pre-cook them,” he explains. “We used to have two to three fishcakes half cooked that we would crisp back up in the fryer when we got an order. But if we didn’t sell two fishcakes across six shops, that was 12 fishcakes going in the bin times six days a week. So we changed, went for a smaller size and put two per portion. We could cook to order and save on food waste.”

If you are unsure about making fishcakes yourselves versus selling bought-in ones, there is a case for offering both, as realised by The Posh Fish & Chips Co, which operates two takeaways in Cardiff and a mobile. Owner Hamid Kowsor offers King Frost fishcakes alongside two premium homemade varieties. 

“We’re The Posh Fish & Chips Co so we like to do the classic chip shop choices along with posh alternatives as we can cater for both markets still,” he says. “We do get a lot of customer requests for the classic fishcake, customers do seem to love them. But we do homemade fish cakes as well as it reduces our fish waste and increases profits. Because they are fresh and homemade, we can charge about three times as much for them.”

Marketing

The key to selling more fishcakes is ensuring they are promoted well, something Craig at Larry’s Fishcakes has found technology helps with. “Working with our customers we have found that the use of electronic notice boards is a great way to boost sales,“ he says. “Photographs of the fishcakes and tempting ways to serve them do make a difference to the number of people choosing them from the menu. We have recently invested in some new photographs and are happy to supply them to customers for this purpose if they get in touch.”

Larry’s Fishcakes 0191 257 1746 www.larrysfishcakes.co.uk
Paramount21 01626 837650 www.paramount21.co.uk
Young’s Foodservice 0800 132 096
 www.youngsfoodservice.co.uk 

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