Gourmet Food Source
Over the years there has been a saying that for me speaks volumes about the British attitude towards fish cookery.
‘Haddock and Plaice in the North, Cod in the South’
Cod and Peas
I was born and raised in Grimsby, for years one of the biggest and most important fishing ports in Europe. My Grandfather and Uncle worked on the docks and my friend’s fathers went to sea on the fishing trawlers during the time of the so- called ‘Cod Wars’ of the late sixties and early seventies. Some of us earned pocket money helping the fishermen’s wives sort out the fishing nets and my father used to take me to watch the huge foreign boats coming into port with a sense of awe. But for all that I only ever remember fish being fried and served with chips and plenty of salt and vinegar. I was more fortunate, ‘fish on a Friday’ came courtesy of Uncle Jack and my German born mother would serve poached or grilled fillets with new potatoes and greens, and I always ate it. It wasn’t until I was serving my apprentice that I realised the possibilities of seafood cookery, I learnt the foundations of classical French cookery and how that applied to more regional dishes and, more importantly the number of different varieties with greater appeal than haddock, cod or plaice.
The future of seafood cookery in this country hangs in the balance, stocks of our most popular fish have dwindled to pitiful levels due to our inability to try alternative species and many are now calling for outright bans to save many from extinction. We need to redress the balance, to stop sending the cheaper fish overseas or straight to processed fish cakes and burgers and trust restaurant chefs to transform them into imaginative, tasty dishes. As an island, Britain has enjoyed a wealth of seafood around its shores for many years and from this came some wonderful, yet long forgotten recipes; potted brown shrimps, stargazy pie, cullen skink, jellied eels and cockles in vinegar to name but a few.
Content and picture © Miles Collins