Shocking secret of Edinburgh’s chippy sauce revealed

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CHIPPY brown sauce has long been synonymous with the Capital in much the way the Castle and the Fringe conjure up instant images of Edinburgh.

The unique blend of fruit and spices that no bag of chips or fish supper is complete without has become famous the world over as the quintessential Edinburgh condiment. But is it?

Tony Crolla with Edinburgh chippy sauce. Picture: TSPL

Tony Crolla with Edinburgh chippy sauce. Picture: TSPL

There’s no denying that Tony Crolla, owner of Bertie’s on Victoria Street, UK’s largest chippy, certainly knows his fish and chips.

READ MORE: Readers react: “If it was made in Glasgow, why does Glasgow ask for salt n vinegar?”

So when he drops the bombshell that Edinburgh’s world famous chippy sauce is actually a Glaswegian creation, you can’t take such a revelation with the proverbial pinch of salt.

“Chippy sauce is made with onions, spices, sultanas and other fruits,” says the 50-year-old, insisting that what is served in chip shops across the Capital is basically a ‘watered down’ version of the popular HP Sauce.

A portion of fish and chips, untouched by chippy sauce. Picture: PA

A portion of fish and chips, untouched by chippy sauce. Picture: PA

Despite its colour, brown sauce is a tomato based sauce, which is then blended with malt and spirit vinegar, sugars including molasses, glucose-fructose syrup and sugar, dates, cornflour, rye flour, salt, spices and tamarind at a factory in Cambuslang.

“Chippy sauce is just HP Sauce made thinner through less reduction,” explains Tony, candidly, before musing “I don’t know why Edinburgh and chippy sauce have become so connected.”

Also owner of La Favorita, Vittoria and Taste of Italy on Leith Walk and Divino Enoteca and Vittoria on the Bridge in the Old Town, Tony has good reason to be bemused.

He reveals, “The chippy sauce that all the city’s chippies buy, and have done since I was born, is made by Walter Black in Glasgow.

“It’s his Gold Star brand that we all use, so I really don’t know why it has become such an Edinburgh thing and not more of a national thing.”

Tony’s claim is a controversial one, however. In the past it has often been said each Edinburgh chippy has its own closely guarded ‘secret recipe’ for the runny brown flavouring.

READ MORE: Salt ‘n’ sauce? Capital chippy sauce export bid

The locally held belief being that a half and half mix of brown sauce and vinegar is best.

One chip shop worker once told the Evening News: “It’s all about ratios and you’ll find that each fish bar has a different, secret way of doing it.

“For me, it’s all about consistency. Too runny and it’s a sin. Too thick and you’ve blown it.”

So popular is the local delicacy that in 2013 one local entrepreneur even offered bottles of the classic sauce on eBay and Amazon, charging £3.50 a bottle and a further £10 for shipping worldwide.

A quick look at the history of the brown sauce, however, actually removes its origins even further from the Capital.

The original HP sauce recipe was created by a Nottingham grocer, Frederick Gibson Garton, in the late 1800s.

He named it HP in 1895 after hearing a rumour that a restaurant in the Houses of Parliament had begun serving it.

Don’t Miss: Tony Crolla reveals the secret of the perfect fish supper in Saturday’s Evening News