Fish For Thought
Our fish buying guide, part one…
Sustainability has always been a cornerstone of our business and we know it is hugely important for our customers too, which is why we are proud to have launched our innovative Fish Butchery. While helping you to make an environmentally conscious choice when buying seafood, we also want to give you the confidence to know you’ll create a delicious dish back at home as you explore the seasonal varieties we have on offer each week.
So, whether you’re looking for something different for your midweek supper or a centrepiece for your next dinner party, there will always be something new and exciting to try! The world’s your oyster, as they say!
While our talented butchers will be there advise you on the different species we have available and how to prepare and cook them, we have put together some handy tips to help get you started with selecting the right fish for your recipe and what to do with it when you get home:
- Stick to the size and weight
The size of the portion is much more important to how a fish cooks than the type of fish. This means you can have fun and experiment with your species! Whether your recipe requires a 1-inch-thick fillet, a 4-ounce fillet, or a whole fish, buy something similarly portioned if you want to maintain approximate cooking times and methods. Our butchers will be able to advise on this, as well as recommendations of what species will suit your recipe.
- Check for rigor mortis
You want to go for fish that is noticeably stiff. Rigor mortis is the stiffening of the muscles shortly after death, so it is a fantastic indicator of freshness.
- Take it out of the packaging when you refrigerate it at home
Fish is much better when air is allowed to circulate around it, so pop it on a wire rack in your fridge. The skin will dry out, it will be more pleasant to cook with and the odour won’t be as strong. This is why we don’t keep our fish on ice.
Choosing your catch of the day
Our fish selection is proudly steered by the seasons, sustainability and even the weather. This means there might be some unfamiliar species on our counter in different shapes and sizes when you come to choose your catch of the day. We think it’s a great opportunity to cast your net wider and try something different – fish Fridays will never be the same again!
We’ve outlined some great fish swaps below, many of which you’ll find on the counter in the coming weeks and months…
Swap cod for... pollack
There is no doubt that Cod is a familiar family favourite across the UK, yet intensive commercial fishing has put stocks under increasing pressure. The lesser-known Pollack is an equally delicious white flaky fish characterised by an olive-green back and a pale-silver belly. You can catch this member of the Cod family all year round, but you are more likely to find it with us between May and January.
Like Cod, Pollack’s white flaky meat can be prepared in a variety of ways. Fillets can be cooked with the skin on or off, but if leaving the skin on it’s best to scale the fish before cooking. Pollack will also need pin-boning either before or after cooking but our butchers can handle that if necessary. It’s best grilled with a butter and herb crust, deep-fried as fish and chips, or poached for fish pies and casseroles.
Swap halibut for... gurnard
Halibut is a slow-growing, long-lived species that has been overfished to the point of being endangered. For something different, but similarly meaty and tasty, why not try Gurnard. The most common variations are red, grey, and yellow/tub gurnards, but all types are very similar in shape and taste. The best time to find Gurnards at our butchery is May, June, July, August, and September.
Now, if the seabed was mirrored, the gurnard would surely swim by without a glance, but this decidedly ugly fish is championed by our chefs. The god of fish, Rick Stein, also recently featured it with sweet and sour onions in his book Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes. This lean, firm, white-fleshed fish takes strong flavours well and is great for using in soups, stock, and bouillabaisse, or stuffed with herbs and vegetables such as mushroom and onion.
Swap prawns for... spider crab
King or tiger prawns are often intensively farmed in the tropics in ways that can damage local communities and the environment. Switching to this clawed crustacean will certainly liven up your dinner plate – with the spider crab’sstriking orange armoured bodies and long Meccano legs it will no doubt have the wow factor. Ask our talented butchers for advice on humanely cooking and prepping the crab, but leaving in a very cold fridge for a few hours before dropping into water at a rolling boil for about 15-20 minutes per kilo should do you well. Likewise, picking the crab meat takes a methodical process which our experts will be happy to advise on.
Those prepared to tackle the legs of the Spider Crab are justly rewarded with a sweet and delicious meat. Like prawns, crab is as good with strong flavours like chilli as it is plain with lemon and mayonnaise. Our suggestion is to combine the brown and white meat with vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and mustard and bake it in the shell.
Interested in Finding out more?
Pop into our Fish Butchery on your next visit or drop us an email here to receive the weekly catch direct to your inbox!