Who Invented Scampi & Chips?

  • Apr 18, 2024
  • By Rob Truslove
  • 0 Comment

At Harry’s Country Kitchen, we take enormous pride in offering a wide variety of traditional frozen meals. And what could be more traditional than delicious Scampi, Chips & Peas?

A fixture of British seaside holidays, scampi and chips has been bringing coastal flavours to kitchens for generations. But where exactly did this timeless classic come from?

Read on as we delve deep into the history of scampi and chips, trace its journey to the UK, and unravel the secrets behind its enduring popularity.

Mediterranean origins

With records dating as far back as the Roman Empire, the word "scampi" itself originally referred to a specific type of crustacean. It was most likely langoustine or something similar, often found deep in the Mediterranean Sea.

Italian cuisine has a long and proud tradition of seafood dishes, dating back centuries. It stems from its rich coastline and proximity to the Mediterranean Sea. For example, recipes for traditional Italian scampi dishes such as Scampi alla Griglia, meaning grilled scampi, and Scampi all'Aglio, meaning scampi with garlic, have been in existence since the Renaissance period.

In Italian cooking, scampi is often prepared very simply, with garlic, olive oil, wine or even just lemon juice used to create a vast array of flavourful and aromatic dishes.

The simplicity of Italian scampi dishes highlights the importance of fresh, high-quality ingredients and the use of minimal seasoning to allow the natural flavours of the seafood to shine.

Introduction to the UK

The introduction of scampi to the UK most likely occurred through a variety of channels, including trade routes, migration patterns and other cultural exchanges.

As trade expanded and global connections deepened, new, exciting ingredients and international culinary traditions made their way to Britain.

Historical records suggest that scampi was introduced to British shores as early as the 17th Century, with it being mentioned in various travelogues and culinary texts of the period. Most notable of those is a 1747 recipe by Hannah Glasse, considered by contemporary chefs to be the mother of the modern dinner party.

Seafood has always played a significant role in the cuisine of Britain, with coastal communities relying on the sea for both mealtimes and their livelihoods. With its unique taste and versatility, scampi would have been a welcome addition to the British food scene of the time.

The dish's initial impact may have been limited to these coastal regions, where there was more access to fresh seafood. But as transport networks improved and tastes evolved, scampi gradually began to gain popularity all across the country.

The rise of tourism in Britain in the 19th Century contributed further to the establishment of scampi as a popular dish, with seaside resorts and coastal towns at the centre of this new culinary innovation.

Influence of fish and chips

Perhaps Britain’s most iconic culinary export, fish and chips first emerged as a popular working-class meal in the 19th Century. It coincided with the rise of industrialisation and the urbanisation of towns and cities. Interestingly, the first recorded fish and chip shop opened in London in 1860.

The affordability, availability and convenience of fish and chips made it a staple food for people from all walks of life. That contributed to its widespread adoption all over the UK, and its rise to become the nation’s most popular dish.

Emergence of scampi and chips

Since its arrival on British shores fresh from the Mediterranean, scampi began to firmly establish itself within British culture. It evolved from what was once a regional specialty to become a national favourite.

Whilst fish such as cod and haddock were the main ingredient of traditional fish and chips, variations of the dish began to emerge over time to include other types of seafood – including, you guessed it, scampi.

With its delicate flavour and texture, scampi presented itself as a popular choice for those looking for an alternative. The union of crispy scampi with fluffy chips was a natural progression.

Popularity and evolution

Scampi and chips quickly gained popularity in the UK, becoming a favourite among diners seeking a change from traditional fish and chips.

Chefs began to experiment with different coatings and seasonings for the scampi, ranging from traditional breadcrumbs to more adventurous options such as panko and beer batter. Side dishes and accompaniments also evolved to include tartar sauce, peas and a wedge of lemon.

Despite changes in food trends and dietary preferences over the years, scampi and chips has remained a beloved comfort food classic, cherished by Britons and visitors alike.

Its ongoing popularity speaks to its timeless appeal and its ability to stir up memories of childhood holidays beside the sea.

A British classic

Today, scampi and chips holds a special place in British culture.

Enjoyed in pubs, restaurants and chip shops all across the country, where it serves as a reminder of the UK's rich maritime heritage and its love affair with seafood and foreign flavours.

Whether enjoyed as a quick takeaway meal or as a luxury dining experience, scampi and chips continues to delight diners of all ages – showcasing the enduring appeal of simple, honest and delicious food.

Try it for yourself

Get a taste of the seaside with Harry’s Country Kitchen’s very own take on scampi and chips – our Scampi, Chips & Peas frozen ready meal. Our scampi is selected for its quality and cooked until perfectly crispy. The chips are golden and fluffy on the inside, and the garden peas add a pop of colour and freshness.

This dish is ideal for a quick, satisfying meal. Whether you're missing the beach or just need a fast and tasty dinner, it's like bringing the best of the British coast to your table.

Order online today, with next-day delivery available. You can also download our brochure, or contact us on 0800 029 3263.

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