ACE chippie Bruce Payne will be offering customers on Sheffield’s Moor Market free fish if they agree to take part in a blind taste test of mystery fish.
He’s worried the price of the city’s favourite fish, cod, will hit the deep fat fryers after Brexit.
“I need a back-up plan if the price soars. It’s got to be white, it’s got to be flakey and it’s got to be bland,” he says.
Bruce, who runs the Market Chippy, doesn’t know what fish he will be using until the day before the taste test, from 10am on Saturday, October 26. It will depend on what is available – and sustainable.
While the price of haddock has more or less remained stable that of cod has steadily risen. Normally it drops after Christmas but this year they didn’t.
“Sixty pounds of frozen-at-sea Icelandic cod cost me £210 currently. At the moment it’s caught by the Spanish. It has been Russian or Chinese. As we don’t have much of a fishing industry left we will be buying another country’s fish and if they land here there will be a tariff,” he adds.
There is already to be a seasonal 20p price rise on his regular prices (fish and chips is currently £4.60) and Bruce needs a Plan B if prices hit the psychological £5 mark.
“I don’t want to be caught flat footed. Suppliers can be ruthless. They will use Brexit as an excuse anyway,” he adds.
Bruce will not stop selling cod (or haddock and plaice) but among cod substitutes are coley, hake, catfish, gurnard, pollock, New Zealand hoki and tilapia (which some chippies are rumoured to be already using). However not all fit his criteria.
When he ran a stall on Sheffield’s old Castle Market he tried using Scarborough woof (also known as catfish or wolf fish) which has a white firm flesh but customers rejected it. Traditional as always, they wanted cod. Perhaps it is time for Bruce to give woof another go.
The taste test is free. All people have to do is rate what they eat. “Even if it costs me £50 in fish I am going to have a better idea than if just cooking a couple of pieces. I have three fryers so it can b e A, B and C. It’s like fishing, the wider you cast your net, the better the result!”