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Fish Fingers and Custard

For those of you who watch the BBC sci-fi show "Doctor Who"...
At the beginning of the fifth series, the Doctor has just regenerated and is rediscovering his tastes. After trying a bunch of different foods, all of which he finds disgusting, he finally settles down to eat fish fingers and custard. Since that episode, "fish fingers and custard" has been an ongoing joke in the series.
What I want to know is-- are fish fingers and custard actually edible together? Has anyone tried it? What was it like?(This is purely curiosity...I'm not planning on serving this dish to anyone.)

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  1. Yeah...I'm pretty sure that this was meant to show just how eccentric Eleven was going to be. Definitely NOT two great tastes that taste great together. Now, *bacon* and custard, maybe...or fish fingers and bacon...

    God, I had great hopes for Moffat's Doctor–Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and Arthur Darvill are all superlative, but Moffat, though having written some of the greatest Who stories for Nine and Ten, simply isn't a good showrunner. (See "Coupling".) That having been said, "The Doctor's Wife" and "The Girl Who Waited" were two of the best Whostories ever. It's just a shame that Moffat's "wibbly wobbly timey wimey" tendencies have been the predominant feature of his run.

    Neil Gaiman for showrunner, anyone? Barring that, Howard Overman (Misfits)? I just don't want Moffat anywhere near the Doctor's 50th anniversary.

    3 Replies
    1. re: annagranfors

      I've heard elusive rumours of Whovians trying it. And I first it made me feel sick, but then I started wondering...what if you had really mild fish fingers and a bland custard? Wouldn't be kind of like donair sauce or something? Dunno...
      And I totally agree about Moffat's writing :(

      1. re: ellenjoannajean

        Fish Fingers are VERY bland. Crispy on the outside and lightly flaky kind-of-fishiness on the inside. And English custard can vary from sickly sweet goop to a lightly-sweetened sauce depending on how it's made (I don't make mine very sweet at all). But I wouldn't really want to put the two of them together on the same plate. In the same meal, sure... but not at the same time!

        1. re: Kajikit

          "And English custard can vary from sickly sweet goop to a lightly-sweetened sauce depending on how it's made "

          Most of we Britons (not just the English) would make it with Birds custard powder.
          Except for those of us who buy it ready made. Making "proper" custard is for the French (who will call it creme anglaise - but what do they know. HAH!)


    2. If you use a certain amount of creativity and ethnic diversity, this isn't quite as outlandish as it sounds on first thought. There is a lovely Japanese traditional custard dish called chowanmushi. Some of tthe "modern" (read "Momofuku") recipes just do the custard and then garnish it with varying tasty bits. The "old way" is a lot more fun. Wonderful things are buried in the custard before steaming. Things like bits of shrimp or fish, nuts, certain veggies, and other good things. When I lived in El Paso, I had a favorite Japanese restaurant that would make a special chowanmushi with a day's notice, for which they used a small pumpkin-like squash (often acorn) hollowed out and cleaned, a thin slice off the bottom so it would sit steady, then shrimp or squid tentacles or "fish sticks" (dainty fingers of firm white fish) were tucked inside along with things like a piece of scallion, maybe a few bean sprouts, then filled with savory custard and steamed and served beautifully. Always a joy to eat and an adventure. Or more like a treasure hunt. Maybe the writers/staff of Dr. Who are fans of Japanese cuisine? Fish fingers and custard really isn't all that outlandish. Unless you insist on Mrs. Paul's Fish Sticks with creme brulee. That could get pretty nasty!

      3 Replies
      1. re: Caroline1

        I wouldn't be surprised to see a recipe for "chowanmushi" on CH, but in Japanese cooking the dish is actually spelled "chawan mushi" which means "teacup steamed". While the normal English translation for it is "steamed egg custard" keep in mind that it is NOT a dessert -- it is savory and based on fish broth and chicken. The version steamed in a hollowed out squash that Caroline1 describes sounds quite delightful.

        1. re: Tripeler

          If only Chowhound had a resident spell checker....! <sigh>

        2. re: Caroline1

          Bear in mind that the scene took place when Amelia Pond was a child...the fish fingers were likely to be of Mrs. Paul's quality, not high-end Japanese fish, and the custard would probably be Tesco's (think Kroger's/Safeway). In other words, thoroughly disgusting...and the punchline to the Doctor being revolted by the much more sane things that Amelia gave him first.

          I don't doubt that what you describe is probably very tasty, but it was certainly NOT what was on offer at young Amelia's place.

        3. The whole point of the joke is that both fish fingers and custard are iconic childhood foods for we Brits and would only ever be eaten together by a Time Lord.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Harters

            Oh, yeah...I know it wasn't meant to be taken seriously. I just kind of wondered what it would taste like...

          2. I've had a very tasty crab custard, but I'm fairly certain that Bird's + Birdseye would be revolting!

            1. Fish fingers in England are fish sticks in the USA-- commercially frozen rectangular portions of boneless deep- fried fish or fish product. Custard in England is custard sauce in the USA. Nowadays in England "custard" is often made from Bird's Custard Powder, a mix similar to our Jello pudding mixes. This custard is eaten not alone as dessert as much as a sauce on fruit pies, crisps, cobblers. The combination of fish fingers and custard would be highly unusual and probably in the show is meant to show that Dr Who is a bit out of the ordinary.

              1. David Tennant (Ten), on the other hand, is delicious. :)

                1 Reply
                1. Matt Smith apparently ate actual fish fingers in actual Bird's Custard and reported that he liked it: http://blog.zap2it.com/frominsidetheb...

                  Let's face it: fish and vanilla are not really unheard of in haute cuisine; it's that sugary, fake-y flavor that starch-based puddings like Bird's and Jello have that I'd have a tough time with...(I'm planning a blog project, but I think I'm going to do a savory custard sauce like Parmesan or hollandaise...)

                  4 Replies
                    1. re: ellenjoannajean

                      Ellenjoannajean, here's our experience with Fish Custard: http://quipstravailsandbraisedoxtails...

                      I will say, it was surprisingly good. Interestingly, sugarless vanilla pudding isn't incredibly different from the sugary version, just subtler and lighter; the lactose in the milk is still sweet - but it works with fish. If I had it to do over again, I'd have used another binder on the fish stick breading to replace the Masa Harina, which wasn't unpleasant but has a strong flavor that tended to mask the subtle whitefish/vanilla combo.

                      After dipping our fish sticks in it, we cut up a frozen pound cake for dessert - even post-fish-dipping, the custard made the transition seamlessly. Wild.

                      1. re: mhays

                        Kind of neat. But 'custard' without any sugar in it is just white sauce.

                        1. re: Kajikit

                          Well, if you're going to get technical, custard with no eggs is white sauce - sugar is not a requirement in custard (see quiche, strata, etc.) Bird's turned the world of custard on it's ear by removing the eggs, but the mix itself doesn't contain any sugar - who knows if people made savory 'custard' sauces without at the turn of the century?


                  1. I didn't realize that so many others were also wondering about fish fingers and custard. Thanks everyone for satisfying my culinary curiosity. :)
                    @ mhays, the recipe looks very interesting. I think I will get together with some of my fellow Doctor Who fans and try it out!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ellenjoannajean

                      Thanks! Do let me know what you thought of it!

                      For yet another version, I don't know if anyone else is familiar with the very cute vlog Feast of Fiction, but they also have a version - one that's genuine vanilla egg custard and breaded cod sticks. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YailmV...

                    2. I just hosted a Who marathon a few days ago, where we served fish fingers, beans on toast, and (berry crisp with) custard, and one of the girls in the group dunked a fish finger in the custard just for fun. Her verdict: good texture contrast, TERRIBLE flavor! ;)