Category Archives: sustainable fish

The RNLI Fish Supper at Moelfre lifeboat station

Next month see’s the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) Fish Supper launch a new fundraising event created to raise money and awareness of the work the RNLI, but also to encourage individual’s to eat more fish!

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Between the 9th and 11th October individual’s can host their own Fish Supper, inviting family and friends to share the meal while collecting donations and raising money for the RNLI charity. It doesn’t matter if you are an accomplished chef, cook or total amateur it’s about sharing and supporting our hard-working primarily volunteer, lifeboat crews who are on call 24 hours a day. Over 8,000 RNLI volunteer crew members look after our coastal waters across the UK and Ireland regularly missing their evening meals, so get your friends together and eat in their honour!

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As I live close to the sea and act as a firm advocate for local seafood I was lucky enough to get the chance to attend the inaugural fish supper held at Moelfre Lifeboat station on Anglesey. Around 30 guests including lifeboat men and women, fishermen, seafood suppliers and restauranteurs gathered to sample canapes, made with locally supplied seafood followed by traditional fish and chips supplied by Moelfre’s Coastal cafe and Fish Bar.

Cywain Pysgod (which means fish in Welsh) supported the event. They are a project run by local business support company Menter a Busnes, and co-ordinated by Caroline Dawson, a passionate supporter of local seafood. Their aim is to create a more profitable and sustainable Welsh Fisheries sector by increasing the value of the catch through identifying new markets and developing new products.

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So, go on… get involved! Anyone can host a fish supper. There is a special page on the website where you can register. You will be sent a free party pack which includes recipe inspiration, party game ideas and place-name cards. The Fish Supper doesn’t have to be held between 9–11 October, it’s quite flexible although the RNLI asks that all Fish Supper donations are received by 7 November.

Our evening finished spectacularly with the launch of the lifeboat, a rare opportunity for me as it’s about half an hours drive from where I live, but it was a clear beautiful evening, with stunning views over the Irish sea and all in all it was quite exciting!

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Filed under sustainable fish, travel, Wales tourism

STOP PRESS: Exciting Competition Announcement for local cooks and chefs (Gwynedd and Ynys Mon)

Here is that exciting announcement I mentioned on Friday.

For all amateur chefs & cooks in Gwynedd or Ynys Mon I just want you to know that I am working with FLAG (fisheries local action group) and Menter Mon on a project to promote local seafood. As part of this we are holding a competition which will offer 20 lucky cooks the opportunity to win £100 to hold their own seafood themed ‘supper club’ (for friends, family or even total strangers if you wish!) plus the chance to attend a one day seafood master class with local seafood experts hosted at the Food Technology Centre, Coleg Menai

To qualify for this competition you must be a resident of Ynys Mon or Gwynedd, not be a professional chef working in the industry locally, be keen to use and learn more about local seafood, and enjoy cooking and entertaining…that’s it!

For further information and an application form where you can tell us why you would love to participate in this project, please email me at moelfabansuppers@gmail.com

Thanks and good luck!

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Filed under competitions, local produce, sustainable fish, Welsh produce

I’m back! …with two recipes from the Menai Seafood Festival: Scallops tartare and French Eel stew

Its been a long and busy summer. I know this because I haven’t written a thing on here since 9th June. Such a long time for me! So what have you been doing with yourself?I hear you ask. I’m sure some of you have followed my exploits through Twitter or Facebook so already know I’ve barely kept still, or stayed in one place for long.

I have fed crews at three festivals, cooked for five brides and grooms, been a private chef for a couple of dinners, and helped co-ordinate one food festival. I’ve also been busy fitting a new business premises ( I now have my very own kitchen and hopefully soon cookery school) and visited schools running seafood demo’s across Anglesey as part of the Menai Seafood Festival.

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In between all of that I’ve tried to have a life and spend time with my kids! It all sounds like hard work, but I can’t complain. Its fun work. Work I adore and I consider myself fortunate (if not rich) to be working at something I love and have a passion for.

Now that Autumn approaches and the whirlwind of activity is calming a little its back to those other things I love. Writing, food festivals and teaching. My mission for the winter is to find, beg, borrow, the finances I need to refit the cookery school and get it up and running. I will return to this in another post as it deserves a full explanation.

I also made a promise at the Menai Seafood Festival that I would post my two French themed seafood festival demo recipes. I stood in at the last-minute due to another chef dropping out. I said I wouldn’t because I was coordinating the two tents, but actually on the day it wasn’t that stressful and I’m so glad I did because it was such good fun!

 

So here to get you going and mark my return to writing are the two recipes of the day, sadly I have no pictures but all the testers gave the thumbs up! As you can see there were plenty in attendence.

Scallop tartare and French conger eel stew

I wanted to introduce visitors to a different way to prepare scallops and a new fish. In the case of the latter, conger eel is a little used fish which people often overlook. Daunted by the way it looks, full of preconceived ideas about how it will taste they don’t even consider it as an option. Many immediately think of jellied eels when you say eel and I could see plenty of the crowd watching my demo cringe when I said I was cooking eel. Several said they tried it and hated it. I’m always up for a challenge so my aim was to change their mind. Eel is not overfished, it is sustainable and it is cheap. Yes it has a large central bone, but its easy to remove the meat in neat chunks for a simple stew.

Scallops tartare with blue poppy seeds

Ingredients:
Dozen scallops
1 teaspoon blue poppy seeds
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
Drop of soy sauce
Sea salt

2 white plates to serve
Remove the coral from the scallops, we only want to use the white part. Slice and arrange in a rosette pattern on a plate. Zest the lime and make a dressing mixing the olive oil, soy sauce, lime zest, a teaspoon of lime juice and salt.
Baste scallops with the dressing and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Leave to stand for 5 minutes and then serve.

French eel stew (for two people)

Ingredients:

Eel (2k) killed, skinned cleaned and cut into chunks.
3 large shallots
12 baby onions
200g chestnut mushrooms
Bouquet garni
30g plain flour
30g butter
300ml fish stock
300ml red wine
12 small new potatoes
Seasoning

Flat leaf parsley to serve

Get your fish monger to skin and clean the eel. At home you can run a sharp knife along the central bone which is thick and gently cut the flesh away making sure you remove any of the remaining bones as you go. They are easy to find as eel bones are pretty big.

Melt the butter and brown sliced shallots. Add flour, then fish stock followed by the red wine. Add bouquet garni, onions, mushrooms and halved potatoes. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the potatoes begin to cook through. Add the chunks of eel and simmer for a further 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the eel cooked through. Season well and serve sprinkled with plenty of chopped flat leaf parsley.

A big thank you to Wayne at Mermaid Seafoods for supplying produce for the demo tents and indulging my demand for conger eel

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Filed under festival food, Food festival, French food, home cooking, local produce, Recipes, Seafood recipes, sustainable fish, Uncategorized, Welsh produce

Burmese spiced fish, Conwy Feast and writers block

Writers block is a terrible thing. I want to write. I have lots to say and many stories to write-up of events I’ve attended and people I’ve spoken to in recent weeks. But as soon as it comes to sitting down and transferring my thoughts to paper its like the shutters come down in my head and the words wont flow. This is the reason for my recent silence. Writing, even food writing, needs a bit of mental space and freedom so my thoughts can roam and explore ideas. If I feel stressed, upset, preoccupied with problems or constrained my thoughts are otherwise engaged….no mental space, no writing. Its frustrating. So rather than spend weeks on a full essay, here are some pictures from my Conwy Feast demo and the recipe for the Burmese inspired spiced fish I cooked at the Feast.

Bear with me…I will be back with a vengeance soon….once some of the chaos going on in my life has subsided.

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Burmese spiced fish with coconut milk (to serve 2 people): Takes 20 mins to cook

The prominent flavours that you find in Burmese dishes are heavily influenced by the countries that border it. With Thailand on one side and Bangladesh on the other, both Asian and Indian flavours fuse to create a distinctive and colourful cuisine. This is a favourite dish that I’ve cooked for years and although of course I’ve added to or tinkered with the original ingredients it remains true to the original recipe I found in an old cookbook. These days I often use Thai / sweet basil to enhance the Asian flavours, while of course the vivid yellow colouring created by the turmeric is specifically Indian in origin.

2 thick white fish fillets (monkfish, cod or haddock)

Sunflower oil

1 small onion

1 clove of garlic

Half a thumb sized piece of ginger

Teaspoon turmeric

A small red chilli (home-grown)

Salt to taste

Half a can coconut milk

A small handful of Thai sweet basil (home-grown)

1 juicy lime

Finely chop the onion. Mince garlic, ginger and chilli (seeds removed).

Heat 2 tablespoons sunflower oil in a pan until hot. Add onions and fry quickly over the heat moving continuously for about 5 to 10 minutes, it doesn’t matter if they brown a little. Add garlic, ginger, chilli and turmeric and stir for one minute. Move the onion and garlic mixture to the side of the pan and add the fish fillets skin side down. Fry for 5 minutes or so until the skin starts to turn a golden crispy brown. While its cooking coat the top of the fish with the onion and garlic mixture.  Turn the fish briefly and add the coconut milk and salt to taste. Allow to bubble for about 10 to 15 minutes without covering. Check seasoning and then finish with the juice of a lime and a sprinkling of Thai basi. Serve with plain white rice and perhaps a minty cucumber and tomato salad.

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This fragrant plateful was divided up and between all the avid tasters at the demo!

Photographs courtesy of Kate Withstandley …photographer and art blogger at Exploring Art in the City

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Filed under Asian cookery, Food festival, home cooking, in the press, Indian cooking, local produce, Recipes, Seafood recipes, sustainable fish

From the Sea: a salty seafood pop-up

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To close the inaugural Menai Seafood Festival a very special pop-up charity supper took place. Inevitably salt and sea were its principal themes; the salt provided by Halen Mon (Welsh sea salt specialists) and every course focusing on a different type of seafood, provided by local fish monger Matt White and with local farmed sea bass from Anglesey Aquaculture.

Now I get little opportunity to attend supper club’s or pop-ups as generally there are none locally, and my forays out of Wales don’t always coincide with supper club dates or events elsewhere. This, as you can imagine was a massive treat for me! I also took my mum along to say thank you for looking after the kids over the holidays and I think she was just about as excited as I was. She’d seen the menu online thinking how delicious it looked before I told her I’d booked for us both. It wasn’t a  cheap night, but as it transpired it was the perfect, decadent end to a busy day.

Jess Leah-Wilson, glamorous owner of Shop Cwtch hosted the event. Her shop, transformed into a stylish intimate dining room for the evening, has a lovely vibe by day, and is the sort of place where you just want to buy everything (during the festival I think my Mum did!). She has great taste, an eye for detail and scatters the shop with so many beautiful things that it was destined to make the perfect backdrop for this dinner. The food, a seven course tasting menu with paired wine, cocktails and Prosecco was designed and cooked by Eamon Fullalove (yep, that IS his real name) with the help of three young aspiring chefs; my assistant chef Mark Burns helped out along with Elfed Roberts and Dion Hughes from The Oyster Catcher Restaurant, where Eamon is the motivational chef and a tutor. Waitressing and helping introduce the food and wine was Nia Williams, also from The Oyster Catcher. All proceeds from the event were donated to Hope House children’s hospices who give specialist nursing care and support to life-limited children, young people and young adults from Shropshire, Cheshire, North and Mid Wales.

Eamon’s background is impressive. Former head chef at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, he has years of high-end restaurant experience and this supper was the perfect platform for his skills. It offered the young chefs an opportunity to experience food preparation in a very different environment (i.e. in an open air kitchen outside the shop in Menai Bridge). They survived the onslaught of questions from relentlessly curious passers-by and later drunken hangers-on slumped over the kitchen wanting to taste the food!

I cannot make a single gripe about the evening, friendly, informal, great conversation, stunning food. At the beginning of each course Eamon introduced the dish and the matched wine. By the end of the meal we’d tasted many incarnations of Halen Mon salt…from  smoked water used to cook the puy lentils, spiced salt in the bisque,  plain sea salt to cure the salmon and vanilla salt to crust the glasses for the watermelon margarita….as Eamon introduced dessert he simply said “there’s no need to gild a lily” before bringing in warm chocolate brownie’s, vanilla ice cream with salted caramel sauce. He was right, it needed nothing more. Simple pleasures.

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mackerel cured with salted limes, pomegranate and cress

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Perfect scallops, puy lentils cooked with smoked water and unsmoked bacon to top…”Chefs hate unsmoked bacon, but here the smoke is in the lentils”….one of my favourite dishes of the night

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Happy guests

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four different salts…spiced, vanilla, plain and smoked. We were invited to use them to season our own seabass…which had not been seasoned at all. In fact I didn’t need anything extra, the samphire brought enough saltiness to the dish along with the olive tapenade. The fennel, cooked until it broke down, is referred to as Trufillo (to be like truffle) in Italy. There is no alternative translation in English so Eamon told us…its just fennel mush….apart from dessert this was my other favourite dish of the evening

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“no need to gild a lily”

We finally staggered off home at almost midnight….with a glass of wine matched to every course, a couple of Margareta’s and two glasses of Prosecco I almost carried my mother home. I smiled to myself as I escorted her to bed with a glass of water that this was a great night and one to remember.

Matched wines were sourced from Llyn Wines and were as follows:

  • Di Maria Prosecco
  • McPherson Verdelho
  • Yalumba dry white
  • Cher et Tendre Vouvray sec
  • Torre de Menagem Vinho Verde
  • Gavi La Battistina
  • Bacalhoa Moscatel de Setubal

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Filed under British food, eating out, Food festival, in the press, local produce, photography, seasonal food, secret supper, sustainable fish, underground restaurant, Welsh food

One day in Menai Bridge: The Seafood Festival in pictures

Today is the fourth anniversary of my blog. My very first post was a recipe for courgette chutney, (quite apt considering I currently have a glut in my fridge) but today I will mostly be writing about my amazing weekend.

What can I say? I keep finding myself smiling at random moments as I think back over Saturdays first ever Menai Seafood Festival. We thought people would come, we hoped it would be worth all the effort and hard work. We expected maybe three, four thousand but in the first hour we clocked 1,500 and stopped counting when numbers reached 8,500. We were gobsmacked (for want of a better phrase, but this perfectly describes our open-mouthed observations of the crowd that streamed into Menai Bridge). It didn’t just catch us, the organisers, off guard. Stall holders sold out in two hours, car parks overflowed and my demo tent had queues of people waiting to get in!

The total number of visitors was undoubtedly closer to 10,000. I’d call that a success, don’t know about you!

Sadly I didn’t get out to see much as I was so busy stage managing the demo tent, but here is small selection of the pictures I managed to snap on the day (between rounding up chefs, ingredients and getting the washing up done in-between demo’s)…I think the pictures speak volumes about how good our day was and how professional the event was.

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Demo tent at 10.30am packed already

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Rob Alexander from The Black Lion, cooking razor clams

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Aled Williams, Cennin….and his beautiful crab risotto served in a stunning Welsh slate bowl

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Neil Davies, Dylan’s Restaurant cooking clam chowder and drunken mussels

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The boatyard

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Rowan Clark, Coleg Menai tutor overseeing their demo

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Backstage discussions

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Young chefs Jake and Ioan do a double act as they cook up two mussel dishes….they had the audience in stitches. It was their first ever demo and they loved it (both are third year Coleg Menai students training as they work…one with the Bulkeley Hotel in Beaumaris and the other at the Hayloft Restaurant, Ye Olde Bulls Head in Beaumaris.

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Visitors enjoying the event

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The air sea rescue helicopter and boat do a quick fly past…

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Crowds in the boatyard give them a wave as they pass over head

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Bryan Webb from Tyddyn Llan, made four stunning dishes in just three-quarters of an hour!!

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Our wonderful compere Elliw Williams from ATOM PR…dropped in it by me, she did a truly wonderful job especially as it was her first time compering

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Matt White and I also did a double act…Matt is one of very few local fishmongers (he runs MJWhite Fishmongers) . He demonstrated how to fillet seabass and turbot

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…while I demonstrated how to hot smoke at home, then pan fry turbot and make a simple white wine and cream sauce to go with it. 

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mum watches on enthralled

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smoked seabass with beetroot slaw and a lime and ginger cream…the healthy option!

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….while Elliw enjoys the turbot dish

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Filed under British food, festival food, Food activities for kids, Food festival, Food travel, in the press, local produce, photography, Seafood recipes, sustainable fish, Welsh produce

My favourite smoked mackerel pate recipe

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Smoked mackerel pate must be at the top of my list of favourite things to spread on toast. Just imagine with me if you will, ….warm chunky toast, thickly spread with creamy, smokey pate, pure comfort. But don’t get me wrong,  it’s so good for you as well; packed with Omega-3 oils (great for brain function and health) and the antioxidant selenium..which is said to help prevent heart disease.

It’s a shame to see that it has now turned up on the ever-growing list of overfished species, but as long as you buy from as sustainable a source as possible (fish caught locally using traditional methods, including handlines, ringnets and drift nets) there is less threat. According to Bertie Armstrong of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation UK stock is still well above ‘precautionary’ levels. It seems much of the problem revolves around Icelandic fisherman and those around the Faroes, who are catching over their quotas as Mackerel stock moves further North. An argument over fishing rights rages and until settled overfishing in Icelandic waters continues to impact on Mackerel reserves.

…and now I’ve put you all off buying mackerel I’m going to share my favourite recipe. There is as much debate about what makes the perfect mackerel pate and what you should add to it as there is what to do about controlling fishing!…. Should you add cream? What kind of cheese is best? Is butter a yes or no? What herbs work best? And then once you’ve chosen your ingredients there is the question of quantities.

I’ve made mackerel pate for years, tinkering on and off with a classic recipe made by my mum. I’ve tried adding different ingredients, varying quantities but I still come back to this one…I’ve made it for dinners, parties and weddings and it’s almost universally loved by all. My rules are….

*Don’t be stingy with the fish. Use plenty.

*DO NOT blitz it all to a pulp in the blender…hand flaking the fish is best, removing small bones by hand. If you must give it a quick pulse in the blender do it before you add the other ingredients and only pulse a couple of times, you want to keep a good texture…its not a dip.

*I use single cream as its slightly lighter.

*I also use sieved cottage cheese instead of cream cheese. Its less creamy and has a grainier texture which I like.

*Unlike many recipes I use butter. Unconventional maybe, but I like the rich artery clogging effect. It may seem perverse after I have used a lighter single cream and cottage cheese, but I love the decadence. For those wanting a lighter pate you could just leave it out.

*Like to add a teaspoon of fresh horseradish for a fiery hit as it marries well with the creamy smokiness, a good squeeze of lemon juice to cut through the creaminess and finally topped with a sprinkling of smoked paprika and a pinch of fresh dill.

Smoked mackerel pate:

150ml single cream

400g smoked mackerel fillets, skin removed and hand flaked

125g plain cottage cheese

100g melted butter

juice of a small lemon (3 good tablespoons full)

1 teaspoon fresh grated horseradish

black pepper

Sprinkle with a little smoked paprika, a lemon wedge and a sprinkle of fresh dill.

Put the flaked mackerel in a large bowl and pick over it to remove any bones. Sieve the cottage cheese into the bowl then add the lemon juice, horseradish, cream and melted butter. Mix well checking the seasoning as you do. It may not need more salt but a good sprinkle of black pepper is essential.

Spoon the pate into individual dishes….or just serve a dollop with some salad. I do think it goes best with a wholemeal or spelt toast but its up to you, either way it is a such a simple recipe you have to give it a go!

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Smoked mackerel pate with a seasonal salad of grated kohlrabi, cut-and-come-again leaves from Moelyci, cucumber and oak smoked tomatoes from the Isle of Wight, Tomato Stall and home made spelt toast

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Filed under British food, home cooking, local produce, Recipes, Seafood recipes, sustainable fish

Mussels with cider, leeks and bacon

Following on from my last post…here’s a little video of my trip to sea mussel collecting, plus what is one of my favourite mussel recipes. Now that it is peak mussel season this dish would make the perfect Christmas dinner starter.

James (of Menai Mussels) sent me off home after our day out clutching a bag of freshly caught mussels, which I promptly cooked with finely shredded leeks, smoked bacon and  a good helping of medium dry cider. Voila! they were transformed into a gorgeously creamy and beautifully warming supper served with french bread (home-made if possible) and a couple of finger bowls.

Mussels with cider, leeks and bacon recipe:

2k Menai mussels in their shells, very well washed, debearded and scrubbed. I like to rinse at least four times under cold running water.

1 tablespoon or so of olive oil, a knob of butter

half a red onion finely chopped

1 finely chopped clove of garlic

150g finely chopped smoked streaky bacon

1 finely chopped medium leek

a sprig of fresh thyme

500ml medium dry cider

300ml single cream

salt and pepper

a handful of finely chopped flat leaf parsley

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pan. Add the onion and leek and cook gently over a low heat for about 10 mins. Turn the heat up to medium and add the bacon, garlic, thyme and cook briskly, stirring so that the onion and leek don’t burn. The bacon should just be turning golden when it is time to add the mussels.

Tip the mussels into the pot and pop on the lid. Give the pan a good shake to combine with the leek and oil. Remove the lid and pour in the cider, giving the pan a shake again. Turn the heat up a little more, keep the lid tight on and allow to cook for about 5 minutes or until all the mussels have opened up in the pan. Once cooked add the cream, parsley and some salt and pepper.

When you have eaten all mussels and dumped the shells to one side you will be left with all the luscious creamy juices, mop up with plenty of bread and a soup spoon.

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Filed under British food, home cooking, local produce, Recipes, seasonal food, sustainable fish, Uncategorized

At sea with the mussel men

Its 9am and I’m standing on the deck of the Mare Gratia thanking the heavens that it’s a calm still day. The Menai Straits are like a looking-glass reflecting the mountains as the sun slowly creeps up behind them. It’s the proverbial mill-pond and I’m looking forward to a morning’s mussel collecting with mussel farmer James Wilson and his crew.

It was one of those fluke meetings that led to this trip. A train journey to London and a conversation about occupations introduced food blogger and writer (me) to Menai mussel fisherman (James). I happened to mention that I loved mussels and was keen to go on a boat trip out and so he invited me. A month later here I was, boarding a boat bound for the Straits.

The mussel boat usually sails three times a week during mussel season (October to march) but I chose to join them on the day with the most humane leaving time (9am). Our mission: to collect 20 tons of mussels.

Mussel collecting in the Menai Straits is as old as the hills,  but the modern industry has been going for about 50 years. These days it’s a cross between farming and fishing; the seed (or juvenile mussels) are collected from further afield and returned to the local beds where they grow and mature naturally, not on ropes or chains, but on the bed of the straits itself. This process apparently produces a better flavoured mussel and who am I to argue, I love our local mussels!

Three main companies work the Menai Straits collecting mussels on beds that stretch between Caernarfon and Beaumaris. James’s company works primarily at the Beaumaris end of the Straights.

I’d read that Menai mussels make up around fifty percent of the UK mussel market, but James pointed out that this is dependent on how much is produced elsewhere. Northern Ireland and Scotland make up the rest of the market and in a normal year James reckoned that Menai mussels probably make up about thirty percent of the UK market. What really surprised me though is just how small the UK mussel market actually is! Most of those we set out to collect that morning were bound for Holland!

I am a person that tries her best to cut food miles so you can imagine my outrage when I discovered that our Welsh mussels were mostly destined for Europe, however James reassured me that mussels sort of redress the balance by being good at recycling carbon emissions. Carbon is a constituent ingredient of shell, in fact around 40 grams per kilo of mussels will be carbon, which put me and my environmental concerns into perspective a little.

Still, even if it’s not a food mile issue it is a shame that so many of our native gown mussels end up elsewhere. The demand for mussels in the UK market is tiny compared to Europe where they consume much more seafood. Even though the domestic market is growing (at around 15% a year) and we sell more now than ten or twelve years ago (mostly to the restaurant trade) it’s still a small percentage.

I asked James why when we are so close to the sea, the local supermarkets don’t seem too keen to stock this abundant local produce…

Much of it comes down to processing regulations and grading.  Supermarkets in the UK have historically been twitchy about buying from anywhere but ‘grade A’ sources, they are the ones deemed safest based on water tests. Safety tests and required preparation  prior to selling do appear to vary widely between countries but overall there is little difference in the mussel quality of the Menai mussels and those produced in Scotland or Ireland especially after cleaning and processing. It is simply because the waters of the Menai Straits are classed as ‘long-term grade B’, they have generally not made it to British supermarket shelves, or at least not until they have been to Holland for treatment then come back again!

With the UK market slowly growing there is more of a demand for Menai Mussels but no processing facilities to treat and clean them. In Scotland this infrastructure is in place which is  why most of the mussels we see in the supermarkets come from there.

I asked James what could be done to improve the selling of Menai mussels locally and in the UK….

The immediate plan is to build a processing factory on the harbour side where the mussels are landed. They can then be cleaned, packaged and more sold locally and to the wider UK.  As far as I’m concerned this is great news for the local population here in Bangor and the surrounding area. It means that we might once again have our own harbour side fresh fish shop stocking local mussels just like we did when I moved to Wales all that time ago!

Leaving harbour

Leaving harbour

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Bangor pier in the mist

Bangor pier in the mist

sun coming up behind the mountains

sun coming up behind the mountains

Mussel collecting: they look like brushes and sweep over the top of the mussel bed, shifting the mussel 'mud' but not disturbing the bed itself

Mussel collecting: they look like brushes and sweep over the top of the mussel bed, shifting the mussel ‘mud’ but not disturbing the bed itself

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lifting the mussels

lifting the mussels

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nets full of mussels

nets full of mussels

emptying the net into the container ready for cleaning

emptying the net into the container ready for cleaning

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mussels being washed, cleaned and bagged

mussels being washed, cleaned and bagged

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lifting the mussels off the boat

lifting the mussels off the boat

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not the most flattering picture of James so I hope he forgives me my bad photography

not the most flattering picture of James so I hope he forgives me my bad photography

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Filed under British food, local produce, Sources and suppliers, sustainable fish, Welsh food

Sustainable fish at Llangollen food festival -Scandinavian style fish cakes recipe

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Hugh’s fish fight is a campaign I started following a long time ago, even before I got to know local fisherman and fishmongers or got involved with the Menai Seafood Festival.  My love of all seafood is no secret, and I regularly tell people about it from the stage at various food festivals. But I do think very carefully about what I buy and eat and I would certainly think twice about eating in a restaurant that serves endangered species. A couple of years back I visited Nobu with a friend. The menu horrified me. That visit was definitely my last, even if their black cod is to die for!

I used to keep a close eye on websites such as FishOnline which gives great advice on what to eat and fish2fork which suggests sustainable alternatives to the those under threat. These days though I am more knowledgeable, usually go for local alternatives and if in doubt follow the advice of my fish monger (I highly recommend Wayne or Malcolm at Mermaid Seafood, Llandudno).

I eat a lot more fish at home now; the teen is rarely here these days but has started eating fish again and fish cakes are big on the OK-to-eat list. I’d based the previous incarnation of this dish on a recipe from Jamie’s 30 minute meals . His recipe called for fresh tuna, salmon and haddock. I replaced the haddock with pouting; a member of the cod family which is much cheaper and more sustainable, my salmon was organic farmed atlantic salmon (wild caught atlantic salmon are now not sustainable) but you could use MSC certified pacific salmon. The tuna I replaced with a tin. Pole & line caught skipjack tuna is sustainable and considerably cheaper.

This new and updated recipe uses grey mullet (a native fish) and farmed salmon again. In this version I omitted the tuna entirely, replaced the gluten part with porridge oats and gluten-free flour and instead of serving with a dollop of horseradish cream, baby potatoes roasted with herbs and a big lemon dressed salad, I made a fresh chilli salsa and used a garlic aioli to top.

Scandinavian style fish cakes: makes six medium-sized cakes..or quite a few little ones!

2 tablespoons porridge oats

1 dessertspoonful gluten-free flour

250g skinned and boned salmon fillet

250g Pouting / grey mullet

zest of 1 lemon (and a squeeze of the juice)

1 finely grated carrot

1 egg white

a small bunch of flat leaf parsley

salt and pepper

Put the fish into a food processor and blitz with the parsley and lemon zest. Add oats, flour, egg white salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon and  pulse a few times until coarsely mixed. Add the carrot and pulse again until roughly mixed.

Dust hands with gluten-free flour and form the mixture into 6 patties or lots of small cakes. Put a griddle pan on to heat with a drizzle of olive, rapeseed or sunflower oil to coat lightly. Slice a small clove of garlic and throw in to the pan. When it begins to sizzle place your fish cakes on the pan and leave to cook for about six or seven minutes. Turn over with a flat spatula and cook for the same amount of time on the second side.

Baby roast potatoes:

750g British baby potatoes (Charlotte, Jersey Royal)

Glug of Rapeseed oil ( I use Blodyn Aur Welsh rapeseed oil as its close to me but Cotswold Gold is also very good and Charlie the maker of it is lovely!)

a sprig of fresh rosemary leaves removed from the stalk and roughly chopped and a few small sprigs of thyme

Salt and pepper

Wash potatoes and put in a small roasting tin. Pour over a glug of oil, the herbs and a good sprinkle of sea salt (Halen Mon of course) and pepper

Roast in a preheated oven, 190 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until golden and crispy on the outside and soft when pierced with a skewer.

Salsa:

1 red chilli finely chopped

4 spring onions

4 yellow tomatoes (look for heritage varieties especially Sun Belle)

half a cucumber

1 red pepper

1 ripe avocado (optional)

flat leaf parsley and mint finely chopped

pinch of sea salt

splash of red wine vinegar

Finely chop the chilli (removing the seeds) and put in a mixing bowl. Take care to wash your hands well afterwards. Finely chop the spring onions, parsley and herbs and add to the bowl. Scoop the seeds out of the tomatoes and discard. Dice the flesh and add to the bowl. Remove the seeds from the cucumber and dice and do the same with the red pepper. Dice the avocado if using. Add a splash of red wine vinegar and season with sea salt. Taste and serve on the side with the fish cakes.

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Filed under British food, family budget cooking, Food festival, home cooking, local produce, Recipes, Seafood recipes, seasonal food, sustainable fish