/ Food & Drink

What’s really in your scampi?

scampi and chips

That Friday Feeling is in the air – and with it a craving for a big plate of fish and chips. But if you’re more of a scampi sort, can you really be sure about what it’s made of?

Up and down the country tonight battered hunks of cod will be spilling off the edge of plates in pubs, vinegar will be stinging the air outside fish and chip shops, and ovens will be steaming up with breaded fillets.

Some of you may even be opting for scampi – after all, it’s a delicious alternative to fish. I personally love it, but I never thought about how breaded scampi is made until I received a letter from a reader asking what exactly a wholetail scampi is.

First off, I learnt you can make your dinner sound a lot more exotic by referring to it as Norway lobster, Dublin Bay Prawn, or langoustine. They’re all the same species: Nephrops norvegicus.

What is wholetail scampi?

According to a code of practice that manufacturers have to stick to, wholetail scampi, or whole scampi, can actually be made of three wholetail pieces.

The three pieces must be placed beside or on top of each other, before being coated in breadcrumbs.

This doesn’t necessarily mean the scampi is of lower quality – it’s simply prepared this way due to the difficulty in keeping a wholetail intact, as automatic peeling can break it up into smaller pieces.

Peering closely at the back of a frozen pack of wholetail scampi might reveal that it’s ‘made from more than one scampi’ or ‘wholetail scampi ingredients’.

Scampi ingredients – what to buy?

If you want scampi that is made from one sole piece of wholetail, look for ‘single wholetail scampi’, which has been hand-peeled to prevent breakage. Bear in mind that this will probably be more expensive.

‘Formed scampi’ is also pretty common in the freezer aisle, and it consists of pieces of scampi coated together, and can also be referred to as ‘scampi pieces’.

You shouldn’t find minced scampi in packs of coated scampi unless explicitly labelled as such, as this goes against the code of practice.

Are you a scampi fan, and do you buy a specific type? Would you be willing to shell out more for single wholetail scampi and will you be paying closer attention to your scampi ingredients from now on?


My preference is to go for the fish & chips and the worst that might happen is cod instead of haddock. 🐟

Slightly off-topic, but still worth sharing – my mother apparently prefers haddock, so has always insisted on haddock and chips from the fish and chip shop. However, my dad has always ordered cod for my mother (haddock is usually more expensive) and asked the fish and chip shop to write a big ‘H’ on the wrapper!

I think she knows 🙂

We also (mrs r and I) prefer haddock which is not really any more expensive here. An advantage also is that it is almost always cooked to order, so it has not been standing in the hot cabinet for an unknown length of time – does the batter no good.

Back to scampi. It is a regular favourite with decent chips and tartar sauce. We never buy reformed scampi – or chicken for that matter. We buy ours from M&S, and there is a generous amount of meat in the batter. A couple of weeks ago we had scampi and chips at a pub, and the scampi occupied very little of the meal, most was batter.

Fish is always cooked to order round here and the skin is removed, as is normal in Scottish fish & chip shops. I don’t know if they sell scampi, but as Siobhan has pointed out in her introduction, there is the possibility of not getting what you expect.

I don’t own a deep-fat frier and my chip pan has only ever been used for soup. I decided to visit my old local pub this evening and will probably go for the fish & chips – but might look at scampi.

I too prefer haddock but most of England prefer cod in supermarket shelf’s in Scotland large amounts of frozen cod lie unsold because the main headquarters in England dont realise the difference in cultural tastes. “Chip shops ” in England have cod at the top of the menu along with some “exotic ” versions ( rock cod ) and other fish . Not so adventurous over the border in fish but then they have fried Mars bars/ Haggis +chips ( newly shot ) , just about anything that can be bought as food is deep fried even ice-cream ( not easy to do ). In big cites there its curries to carry out , very large Indian/Pakistani population in Glasgow on a % level with Bradford . My wife tells me that although she didnt eat it while living in the USA portions of food including Scampi were “Texas sized ” steak really was massive overflowing the plate and woe betide any restaurant selling small portions ,Americans arent slow to complain , same with Drug stores selling those iced drinks filled with ice cream/ chocolate and 100,s of various types of additional ingredients , very long piled high at the top and a very long spoon to eat it with .

Explains the obesity levels in the USA, duncan Why some are obsessed with eating huge portions that do them no good I really do not know. A feature of an over-affluent society perhaps. Having said that, our haddock are always large, as are portions of chips. One large haddock and chips would feed both of us adequately ( perhaps a small pudding to follow 🙂 ).

If, when in the USA, you choose your restaurants carefully, you’ll get sensibly sized portions – and some really nice steaks too 🙂 🙂 🙂

That works in the UK too, but there is no doubt that large portions are a big selling point. That’s not a problem for those who eat out infrequently but eating scampi & chips etc. every day is best avoided.

jdman says:
4 August 2017

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We quite enjoy scampi from time to time but prefer something more delicate than chips in the potato department.

Do you know what many foods really consist of ,are they what they say they are ? But do you care ?

Most people dont care Bishbut if it says “processed ” and much food is made up of compressed fragments/chemicals /hormones instead of the real deal but its usually cheaper , you become more choosy the more money you have . I learned long ago spend your money on good food if you can afford it rather than the luxuries in life as what use are those luxuries if you are not alive to enjoy them ?

Seems to be a case of you get what you pay for. Anyone else remember the time when scampi wasn’t scampi at all, but pieces of cheap monk fish? These days monk fish is anything but cheap!

wisky2234 says:
1 July 2017

I really like the occasional meal of good quality Scampi, and Cod or Haddock and chips. But having lived in Grimsby I can honestly say that no fish, Cod or Haddock from any fish and chip shop in Hereford comes close to the size, quality and taste found in Grimsby’s chippies. For a real treat, when available, I really don’t think you can beat a delicious plate of Whitebait. Also having also lived in Elgin, Scotland, a real Black Pudding supper takes some beating. OK now I really do feel hungry!

I’m with you on the Whitebait, Wisky, with sauté potatoes for preference.

I am highly allergic to fish (I go into anaphylactic shock) but I can eat shellfish with no problems. Re. the comments from jo’s Mum about monkfish being substituted for scampi; some years ago I was dining with friends at a big hotel near Heathrow and ordered the Scampi. Unfortunately, the chef had decided to pad out the scampi with monkfish to cut costs. I had to be carried from the dining room and taken to a room to be treated by a doctor. Generous compensation was paid. More recently, last Xmas I bought from Tesco a pack of Chinese Party nibbles including Prawn toasts of which I am very fond. getting them out of the fridge I happened to look at the list of ingredients to find that the prawn toasts contained 23% white fish and only 8% scampi tails. I should have taken the matter up with Trading Standards but being very close to the holiday did not bother. What is the legal situation?
Incidentally, I now read the ingredients list on all shellfish products I buy.

Phil you can only sue in circumstances like in a restaurant /cafe/etc where you are served food published on the menu as made up of a certain type of food that is legally recognised as a whole food -IE- it is not made up of various types of food even of the same gender -fish should be fish and not contain meat etc . Even there there is also a legal onus on you to inform the restaurant that you suffer from an allergy. In the case of you buying a packet of processed food from a shop/supermarket the onus is on the customer to check the ingredients of the supplied food packet and amounts to a disclaimer if you take ill because you have not checked what it contains . If the restaurant insists its product is 100 % pure and still serves you a type of food that contains other materials that are know to cause you to become seriously ill then you have a cast-iron case , hold onto the food as evidence/get a witness. : http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article-food-allergy-lawsuites.html shellfish are crustaceans a totally different type of food than fish.

Cliff wilson says:
2 July 2017

Oh dear… Typical Which. . This could have been a good article exposing the “scampi scammers” but instead it became a V poorly written obvious piece about frozen “scampi”. This despite starting off as a piece on fish and chip shop food. Try again. Most “scampi” out there isn’t – its simply morsels of “white fish” and a total consumer rip-off…

Just for you Cliff – imitation scampi recipes : http://everylastrecipe.com/search.aspx?q-imitation+seafood+scampi or -ever wonderedwhats really in your scampi ? – a Vietnam “yukky” looking fish : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2357200/Ever-wondered-whats-REALLY-scampi-You-wish-hadnt-asked-.html your right -rip-off Britain and before you complain about ROB – check out the USA -jailing offence to sell food not complying with what the known conception of the product is . My wife when in Miami asked for margarine on her sandwich server put hand over mouth – dont say that -butter only , we would get closed down if we sold that. Same with lemonade/orangeade it must be 100 % made with that fruit .