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Fish sold in supermarkets

This is what we see on supermarket fish. 



We think the texture and flavour of fish deteriorates when it is frozen, maybe not by much, but the labels on supermarket fish advise you that you can go on and freeze this fish AGAIN, and every freezing is another step in the decline in the fish's flavour and texture.
Our fresh fish is FRESH, it's never been frozen, and it's often caught the day before it's on sale in our fishmongers and online.

What's the point of buying defrosted fish when you can buy it fresh from a real fishmonger?
Created On  14 Dec 2016 7:07 in Did you know?  -  Permalink
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Clams in Portugal

Clams in Portugal

Clams in Portugal

Liz and I took a weekís holiday and flew to the Algarve. We were testing what Portugal would be like before driving there later in the year. We hired a car and, not being people who sit on the beach, we drove up in the hills where we found a restaurant with people sitting outside eating clams in the sun. There were plenty of customers enjoying the wine and tucking into fish or fancy cakes.

In the restaurant was a young woman who was nervously chain-smoking with her long hair in curlers. She had a loud American accent, and her appearance was scruffy. I noticed there were cameramen with tripods. They called her outside, and dressed her in clothes that clearly didnít fit so they proceeded to put large clips up her back to gather in the extra material. They took a lot of photographs, then she went inside to have more cigarettes and coffee. It was a photoshoot for a clothes catalogue. Occasionally the young woman was joined by a man for happy family shots - he appeared from nowhere and was immaculately dressed, he didnít need any clips. He never spoke but was a square-jawed American hero that all the clothes fitted. We went outside to avoid the chain-smoking woman and sat at a table outside. Liz then looked back at the restaurant and saw a cat waiting at the kitchen door. At that time we had 8 cats, now 21, and Liz wanted to say "helloĒ to the cat so we walked to the door where the cat was waiting. We heard lots of people shouting "olé! olé! olé! olé!Ē and the noise of dancing could be heard. As the waiter came out of the door with two bowls of clams, the cat slipped in. When the door opened again the cat came out with a giant live cockroach in his mouth, which he began to eat. The "olés!Ē were obviously the chefs jumping on the roaches whilst cooking. Maybe we should have left, but we were hungry and those clams sure smelt good. They had cooked the garlic whole until it was caramelized, and with lots of clams and crusty bread it was delicious.

Back at home we wanted to recreate this dish but we couldnít make it work. We began to think the missing ingredient was cockroaches. Then I asked Fernando, a good Portuguese customer of ours, how itís done.

Hereís his garlic clam recipe:

Chop up a small amount garlic finely, with a little thyme or oregano. Add to this lots of whole, peeled garlic cloves. Heat about a centimetre of olive oil in a pan, when the oil is hot drop in all the garlic and cook uncovered until the garlic cloves are golden. Meanwhile, soak the clams for 15 minutes in seawater or very salty water to re-hydrate them. Do not use any clams that that will not shut even if you tap them. Slice up some chilli really finely, about two will do. When the garlic is really well cooked, strain the clams and tip them in the pan with the chilli. Put a lid on the pan and leave cooking for about three minutes. Check to see if the clams have opened. If they have, transfer the clams, chillis, oil and garlic into a serving dish. Donít use a plate as you need to keep all the olive oil to dip your crusty bread into. Serve with a robust red wine.

Find clams here.

Created On  2 Aug 2016 17:46 in Did you know?  -  Permalink
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Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish are like squid to eat, and donít need tenderising like octopus. Spring is the main fishing time for cuttlefish, Iíve seen tons landed in Poole at Frank Greensladeís, his whole working area was covered in black ink that went into his house and made the walls and carpet sodden with black ink. I asked him how he was going to clean it up he said we just call in a firm to lay new carpets and refurbish the house, we do this every year. I asked him how could afford that every year. His answer was we sell all these to Italy and you donít know how much profit we make. Large cuttlefish are very sustainable as they only live 2 years. Like all fish large cuttlefish have more flavour and itís the first fish I ate raw, in Thailand in the 70s.

Get your fishmonger to clean and skin them and save the ink or buy squid ink freeze dried (it will say itís squid ink but itís mostly cuttlefish ink as squid or octopus donít produce anywhere as much ink as cuttlefish). The ink has a distinct flavour, slightly fishy slightly burnt, if you have tasted black pasta, you would have tried it. Cook as you would squid, as little as possible to keep it tender. Fresh squid is getting difficult to buy at the right price because of shortages, and cuttlefish taste better. Although cuttlefish is available over most of the world, I donít think it is around the Americas. If this is true can somebody tell us why?

Find them here.

Created On  27 Jul 2016 8:20 in Did you know?  -  Permalink
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Sardines

Sardines

SARDINES

Sardines: the healthiest thing you can eat on the planet. With niacin, omega3 and vitaminB2, plus, as you eat the bones, calcium.

The 1920s were the peak time for sardine fishing, but because of bad transportation and too large catches, causing pressure on the fish making them break up, they were sold locally or went for fish meal or canning.

From the 70s until the 90s we got our sardines flown over from Portugal. Then the local councils and other marine organisations in southwest England changed how the sardines were treated after they were caught, by keeping them in seawater and ice (salt and ice have a reaction that dramatically lowers temperatures*). In the 90s the old Cornish pilchard trade, for thatís what sardines are, took off in a big way.

The best time to eat sardines is from August to February; before August they can be a little soft because of their high oil content. If you eat them in Spain they are cooked with the gut in, itís removed when they are served up Ė thatís how you would have had them on holiday. British people like them ready-cleaned. This is fine if you like headless sardines, when you take the head off you take the gut away at the same time, and the sardine is basically intact. Now, because of Mediterranean holidays, some people want their sardines head-on, this means you have to cut into the gut, so they start to break and go soft. So go for headless sardines! You can BBQ them, or grill or bake them. Try them fried with marjoram or thyme sprinkled on at the end of the cooking, served up with Cornish sea salt.

*The whole subject of salt, water and ice is very complicated, something to do with Le Chatelier's principle, if anybody can explain it simply, we would be grateful!

You'll find them here.

Created On  25 Jul 2016 13:24 in Did you know?  -  Permalink
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Scallops July 2016

Scallops - a fine shellfish!

The main part we eat is the muscle that opens and closes the pretty shell, the one that looks like the petrol station sign.

The other part is the roe (or coral), there is a debate as to whether the roe should be served or not, more about this.

The most common scallop is the American variety, these are caught off the USA in areas like New Bedford. They are completely different from European scallops in flavour and the fact that they are strictly caught without roe. I remember one of those shouty TV chefs berating at one of his chefs because he cooked a scallop with roe on. He said he had never seen anything so disgusting, but thatís probably only because he had ever cooked American scallops. If you know our British scallops, the truth is that American scallops, even though they are flown in fresh, are inferior - in comparison their flavour is watery and poor. These are the scallops often found in restaurants because they are cheaper, as price is what drives restaurants.

So for the best scallops look to home Ė and like all seafood, let us chose some great scallops for you (that's if you can't come into the fishmongers and chose them yourself!)  and thne cook them yourself. Cooking advice - a very hot pan, like a griddle or frying pan, a thin coating of oil on the pan, then just two minutes each side. You'll see the scallop gradually going more opaque from the pan up, flip them over, but DON'T overcook! Serve as they are, with a wedge of lemon, and a simple salad. It's that easy.

There are three types of British scallops that youíll find, depending on where you shop

Dry-dry

Dry (or washed)

Soaked

Dry-dry are the best, it means they are just out of the shell, and donít come into contact with any extra water. Scallops should not be washed as they absorb water, by as much as 25%, and this affects flavour and taste. THESE ARE THE SCALLOPS YOU WILL GET IF YOU ORDER FROM US! You can also buy empty shells from us, they are great for serving scallops in the traditional dish Coquilles St Jacques, or any starter that involves shellfish.

Dry (or washed) are cheaper because they have absorbed water, but they are soft when you eat them.

Soaked are common in Cornwall, they are fairly tasteless as they have as much as 25% water, but they appear cheaper because you are paying for the water. Supermarkets often used soaked scallops because they are in a price war situation, but as with all fish, cheapness with fish is not something to aspire to.

Shetland scallops are usually the best because they are usually dry-dry, YES THOSE ARE THE ONES YOU WILL GET IF YOU ORDER FROMUS!

To recognise a good scallop, look for them to be plump and bright Ė meaning that the colour is clear and they just look attractive. Some scallops are slightly darker than others, this is not bad, just look for them to be bright and the scallop looks quite solid. If they are soaked, the colour deteriorates and they are softer.

There is a new craze for "divedĒ scallops, it seems that every restaurant is selling these. But there are not enough divers to supply all these scallops, so be wary when you see this word. All the divers are licenced, and there are two women divers.

Queen scallops are a different species, they are small and are usually sold out of the shell and frozen. They donít have added water so are not a bad buy, even if they are frozen. Maybe keep them for fish stews, scallops with garlic etc.

Scallops are here.

Created On  9 Jul 2016 8:43 in Did you know?  -  Permalink
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Lobsters July 2016

Lobsters July 2016 Lobsters

Radio 4 yesterday, about lobsters:

English secret agents used to hide messages in lobsters so that the lobster pots could be raised and the messages found by fishermen who could then send them on to the Resistance in France.
The only trouble was that the lobsters were mo
dels and coloured red. Hope the Gestapo didn't realize that it's only cooked lobsters that are red!

If you are in Padstow, visit the National Lobster Hatchery, which we did a couple of years ago. They were notable for allowing our dog to visit as well, got to admit she was rather bored, but we loved it.

As Arthur Daley said, "The world is your lobster".





Don't know how to buy lobsters?

If they are red, they are cooked (see above!).

If they are blue or blue-black, they are alive.

There
is an assumption that if they are alive is better, but that's not always true.

What you have to know is how the lobster is caught and what happens to it afterwards. For example it's a long journey over here for Canadian lobsters, resulting in less meat. But this can also be true of English lobsters, where they are tanked for too long after they are caught, and some, although alive, are nearly empty of meat. The same can happen in restaurants that have tanks of live lobsters.

The best way to have lobsters is straight out of the sea, then cooked straight away (you don't have to live by the coast, inland towns such as Reading can get lobsters that are less than 24 hours out of the sea). Don't go for the ones with smooth shells, the ones with barnacles and that look a bit knocked about are better!

They are easy to eat, the lung problem (fingers) that you get in crabs doesn't happen. The lungs are between two shells so you naturally don't come into contact with them. There might be a small black vein that you can remove, like deveining prawns.

Some people don't like the roe (coral), just take it off it you don't like it.

If there is a slight green tinge to the flesh, that doesn't mean it's bad, it is just a reflection of what it ate last. The way to tell if a lobster is bad is if it has a slight ammonia smell - then it's on its way to being uneatable.

The keeping quality of lobsters is good, 3 or 4 days in the fridge.

So buying lobsters is easy, just buy them from us!


Created On  6 Jul 2016 13:05 in Did you know?  -  Permalink
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