Kitchn Love Letters

This Is the Only Condiment I Will Allow Near My Fries (No, It’s Not Ketchup or Mayo!)

published Mar 18, 2023
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Pomme Frites (french fries) on a silver plate, with a small white bowl of mayo on the side
Credit: Shilpa Uskokovic

You can tell a lot about a person by how they eat their french fries — whether they douse them in ketchup like a child or dip them in mayonnaise as proof that they once backpacked through Europe. But for me, there is no greater addition to a mound of hot, salty french fries than malt vinegar. The combination of cheek-puckering vinegar and crispy fries is the stuff of my dreams.

Malt vinegar is a traditional addition to fish and chips in the U.K. and Australia. I’ve never been to either place, but when I was a kid I discovered a bottle of Heinz malt vinegar at Long John Silvers and I, a condiment-curious kid, doused my meal in the tangy liquid, much to my mother’s chagrin. I’m sure she thought that I had rendered the plate inedible, but I polished off the whole pile of fish, fries, and those delectable little crispy bits. I’ve been Team Malt Vinegar ever since.

Credit: Stephanie Ganz

What’s So Great About Acid League Seaside Fish n’ Chip Sauce?

Recently, when perusing sauces and vinegars at Whole Foods, I discovered that one of my favorite vinegar brands, Acid League, had a malt vinegar of its own, and I had to give it a try. Dubbed Seaside Fish ‘n’ Chip Sauce, Acid League’s malt vinegar boasts smoked and roasted malt, which gives the vinegar just a hint of smoke and a bunch of pleasantly malty flavor, balanced by a natural acidity.

Unlike the bracing malt vinegar I grew up loving (and still love when I find myself in a pub!), this sauce is a bit milder. There’s more going on in the jar — nuance, intrigue, a certain je ne sais quoi! It keeps every bite interesting. Whether I’ve made a sheet pan of crispy roasted potatoes or picked up a giant bag of fries from Five Guys, this is the condiment I’m reaching for to take it to the next level.

What’s the Best Way to Use Acid League Seaside Fish n’ Chip Sauce?

On french fries and fried flounder, the malt vinegar has found a natural home. It brings a zippiness to the fried foods that keeps me coming back for more. But beyond its intended use, I love to employ the Fish ‘n’ Chip sauce for a quick vinaigrette. I’ll mince a shallot and add a squirt of Dijon mustard and some chopped parsley and whisk it up with olive oil, creating a dressing that’s perfect for a light salad of bitter greens. 

On its website, Acid League suggests adding the vinegar to cooked mushrooms, and I’ve found that a few splashes of the sauce on some sauteed lion’s mane mushrooms is a very good thing indeed. 

So you can keep your ketchup; you can have your mayo. For me, the only condiment I want on my fries (and maybe mushrooms, for that matter) is this smoky, tangy, and bright fish Seaside Fish ‘n’ Chips Sauce.

Find it in stores: Acid League Seaside Fish n’ Chip Sauce, $7.99 for 10.1 ounces

What’s your must-have condiment? Tell us about it in the comments below.