Even batter than the real thing? Fish and chips goes vegan!
I’m not going to lie… I have always been a committed carnivore at heart, though I have been doing my best to cut out the amount of meat and fish I consume. Mainly because I have a fair few vegetarian and vegan friends who have highlighted to me the horrific practices that go on in the farming and fishing industry, but also because I know deep down that the amount of meat and fish us humans eat is not sustainable, so I have been doing my best to do the right thing. I am however a sucker for takeaways. If someone asked me a few years ago if I could follow a plant based diet and still enjoy a naughty treat dinner from time to time I would have scoffed at them. I could simply not imagine giving up kebabs and dirty burgers, to only replace them with weird flavourless soya patties. More recently with advancements in tasty meat substitutes available I am finding it much easier to live a more ethical lifestyle with more and more delicious vegan takeaway options springing up in Brighton and Hove all the time!
Our go-to Friday night takeaway is nearly always fish ‘n’ chips, it has been that way since I was a boy when my dad used to bring it home after work as a treat at the end of the week. I could not imagine a substitute ever being good enough to replace this great British classic.
That was until I heard about No Catch. Brighton and Hove seafront’s first totally vegan fish chip shop, and the brainchild of The New Unity’s Ed Winter and Kevyn Rourke who’s mission is to give people the taste and experience of eating seafood, but without the immense environmental damage and horrendous suffering and death that comes with eating fish. No Catch created a huge buzz when it opened back in October, with reports of enthusiastic people queueing round the block to try them out. I had to satisfy my curiosity and give them a try.
Located opposite the i360 on Kings road, the restaurant’s location with views of the old pier from the patio is priceless. For a relatively small eatery, the interior feels spacious, with tables in various formations placed on either side and a bench along one length of the room, with plants dotted all over and an eye-catching green wall bearing the name and logo of the store, and a traditional serving counter at the end of the room. The smell of the “fish” cooking out back took me back to my youth and invoked pangs of hunger which nearly had me ordering everything on the menu, which includes vegan versions of cod, squid, popcorn chicken, shrimp, saveloy and a range of desserts.
After much deliberation I plumped for the classic cod n chips, and my companion decided to try the smoked haddock, with sides of calamari and mushy peas to share. Thankfully our lunch did not take long to appear and the first thing we both commented on is how much it looked like the real thing, even down to the skin made from Nori seaweed.
Everything we tried was really delicious. My “tofish” cod had a nice subtle sweet flavour that mimicked the real thing enough to forget that it was not really fish, and the texture was not unlike real cod either. My companions haddock had more depth of flavour with a rich smoky taste that stayed with you, great for those that prefer stronger tasting fish than cod. The batter encasing the tofish was literally the best I have tasted. Crisp and devoid of grease with a lovely flavour in itself. The golden chips had lovely carapace of crunch and were very tasty indeed. It was the calamari that stole the show however.. made from kelp to give it a bouncy texture that mimicked perfectly cooked squid, and more flavourful than the real thing, with the added bonus that not a single cephalopod had to die to feed us!
Portion sizes were more than enough to fill us up so rather than order a dessert each we shared a slice of lovely sweet fluffy chocolate orange jaffa cake, which was so good we both got another slice to take away.
The verdict: After my first taste of vegan fish n chips I will most certainly be going back for more. They have well and truly proven to me that it is possible to eat my favourite takeaway sustainably without the need for gratuitous exploitation of marine life. I would whole heartedly recommend No Catch to vegans and carnivores alike, just go with an open mind and let the food do the talking as it really is batter than the real thing!
No Catch: 127A Kings Road, Brighton, BN1 2FA, 01273 968045.