Sunday 7 December 2008

Fish Finger Sandwich

I love sandwiches, they are maybe my favourite food group. And this is perhaps the best sandwich in the world. Although I do love peanut butter and jam, or a hot sausage sandwich, Christmas dinner leftover sandwich, ice cream sandwich…

Did you know that over 1 million fish fingers are eaten daily in Britain? And over 100 packs are sold in the UK each minute? In a poll in 1993, Captain Bird’s Eye came second in a list of the most recognised captains. Captain Cook was first. I don’t know which captain I would name first, but I know which one is my favourite, for without him we wouldn’t have fish fingers, potato waffles and chicken dippers, plus some other captain would’ve found the rest of the world eventually anyway.

Whether it is day or night, if I am happy or sad, alone or with friends, drunk or sober – these are when I want a fish finger sandwich. It is just the simplest thing to make, but the combination in textures between the fluffy bread, crunchy golden crumb and soft, hot fish is unbeatable.

A fish finger sandwich technically only needs bread and the fingers (at least 4 per 2 slices of bread) to qualify it as such. The bread can, of course, be brown or white, freshly baked or shop bought. The fish finger can be any brand you like, and you could even make your own but this feels completely frivilous. At university, my housemate and I used to marvel at the supermarket value options because each finger cost just 2p, although the actual ‘fish’ content is a little hazy and the texture a little cardboardy, so look towards the big name brands – don’t spare any expense here! The choice of condiment is yours too: Red, brown, spicy, sweet, creamy, anything you like. And the addition of some ‘green stuff’ is discretionary (adding cucumber would be a crime, but some crisp iceberg lettuce is fine). And a slice of plastic cheese is often very welcome.

My perfect fish finger sandwich goes a little something like this…

· 2 thick slices of white bread
· 4 fish fingers, at least
· Butter, for the bread
· Ketchup, mayonnaise and sweet chilli sauce, a little of each
· Optional extras, depending on how I/you feel – crisp iceberg lettuce and a slice of cheese (burger cheese of course)

Grill the fish fingers until crispy and golden and the sweet juices begin to leak through the crumbed shell. Butter the bread and spread with as much of whatever condiment-combo you want. When the fingers are cooked, and still piping hot, place them lovingly on the bread, but be careful not to burn your fingers in greedy anticipation. Lay the other slice of bread on top, and press it together. This press is almost essential and I would state (without scientific backing) that it makes everything taste better – incidentally, this 'pressing rule' applies to any and all sandwiches. Cut in half and eat immediately, so that the butter melts and mixes with the sauce, driping out naughtily.

Should you want dessert, I suggest a Twix or 3 or 4 Jaffa Cakes.

With food that is eaten with the fingers, you need beer from the bottle. Your favourite bottled variety is best, something light and crisp. There really is no ‘ideal’ beer to go with a fish finger sandwich and to be honest it may be a little unnecessary drinking booze with a child-like dinner, but I would expressly suggest Anchor’s Liberty Ale or their Steam Beer. Or look towards some British beers, Meantime’s Pilsner is a winner, as is Whitstable Bay’s Pilsner or BrewDog's Physics. A glass of orange squash might be the most appropriate drink.

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