James is excited about a shipment he’s been trying to organise for years. He’s just taken a delivery of kingklip. That may mean nothing to you. But James gets calls all the time from South Africans hoping to track some down in the UK. To no avail UNTIL NOW.
At one time, they would not have been disappointed. After the Second World War, apparently (and no doubt during it too), UK fish and chip shops had no cod or haddock, because the fishing fleet had been converted to war work and/or sunk.
Kingklip from South Africa was the answer. According to a wizened old Billingsgate fish merchant James had consulted previously, in the late 1940s frozen kingklip arrived here in vast quantities, enabling fish and chip shops everywhere to get back into business.
Kingklip was ideal for the job because it is remarkably similar to cod. Although it is half eel (it has no proper fishy tail) and has an orange and pink skin, the flesh has a very similar muscle stucture to cod and the taste of a really good white fish.
Back to the present, “A first shipment like this from a new supplier – especially one 6,000 miles away – is always a bit nerve-wracking”, said James. “Is it going to be good? But this one wasn’t just good! Fantastic quality. Nice size, super fresh, neatly trimmed, carefully packed. We’re really delighted!”
I tracked down a recipe from 6,000 miles away which makes use of kingklip’s excellent flavour. It’s here.