February brochure

More than just a fillet…

The Fish Society sells over 400 ‘generics’. A generic is normally a specific cut of fish, of which there might be four or more per species.  For instance cod ‘generics’ are as follows (excluding smoked cod and cod roe…)

  1. Fillets
  2. Fillet steaks
  3. On the bone steaks
  4. Bullets
  5. Cheeks
  6. Misshapes

large-cut-fillet

  • Bullet – thickest part of the fillet with the biggest muscle flakes
  • Fillet steak – neat squarish piece of fish which always looks the part
  • Fillet portion slightly less desirable than fillet steaks.
  • Belly or ventresca discarded from smaller fish but on large fish – such as salmon and black cod – is very desirable, rich in oils. The Fish Society cuts the pin bone strip out (the row of dots)
  • Misshapes are also known as offcuts
  • Cheeks – not shown – similar pieces but finer. From the cheeks of large fish.

All the above cuts are only taken from large fillets, aiming for cut sizes (portions) of 100-300g

Fillets under 300g are normally sold as whole fillets. For expensive fish such as red mullet, we will normally remove pinbones.

For a full list of the 100 species The Society supplies, plus styles and accessories head to our shop.

A look forward into 2017

2016 was a great year for us at fish palace. We welcomed many enthusiastic new members and widened our offering of seafood.

Saturday deliveries

We have exciting plans for 2017. Perhaps the most important is to commence routine Saturday deliveries starting from Easter. So – the many amongst you who decide on Friday to serve six lobster tails on a Saturday… we look forward to hearing from you.

Subscribe?

We also plan to launch a subscription service which will give you a wide range of options for regular fish deliveries without you needing to comb through our website each month. Would you fancy eight servings of healthy oily fish a month? A dozen large kippers every eight weeks? How about a celebrity shellfish package for a slapup meal once a quarter? We’ll be offering a wide range of both budget and timing options and you’ll pay up to 15% less than website prices.

Tasting panel

We’re thinking of inviting our very best customers to join a Fish Society Tasting Panel. You’ll be the first to see our new lines and we’ll be thanking you with some free samples.

Growing competition prize

Finally, we’re getting a bit bored with your performance in our Where Is This Fish? competition (which is in our marketing email each week). You’re just not trying hard enough. So have another look, because we’ll be increasing the prize by £100 a month until July, which would take it to £1,000 worth of vouchers. Now, that would make a very fine fish feast. Here’s a clue – we estimate that at least 100 million people know the answer. But, we confess, not many of them live in the UK.

All the best for 2017.

Alistair,

shellfish-100

January sales – Heavy discounts!

OFFERS EXPIRE 20 JANUARY

nut-crust-2

STONE BASS IN A NUT CRUST

Ingredients:

Fish
2 x boneless & skinless stone bass fillet steaks
100G Shelled pistachio nuts
1 tbsp of sesame seeds
2 teaspoons of sichuan pepper
Plain white flour
2 eggs
Salt & pepper
Cous cous
200G cous cous
250ml veg stock or water
50g Sun dried tomatoes
1 Bunch of Greek basil
Tblsp tomato pesto
Red onion
Salt & Pepper

Method:

  1. Peel the pistachios and put them in a bowl with the sichuan pepper and sesame seeds. Crush or cut them until the nuts are in small pieces (see photos). Place the crushed mix in the oven on bake at 180c for 10 minutes or until they have browned.

nut-in-tray

2. Add 250ml of vegetable stock or water to the cous cous and set aside for 5-7 minutes to absorb the water. In the meantime cut the onion, sun dried tomatoes and Greek basil finely and mix into the cous cous once the cous cous has absorbed all of the water. Finally, add a tablespoon of tomato pesto. Season the cous cous with salt and pepper.
3. Using three bowls: pour flour in the first bowl, beat two eggs in the second bowl and pour the toasted nut mix from the oven in the last bowl. Season the fish, roll it in the flour, dunk it in the egg and coat it in the nut mix.

nut-fish

4. Add a tablespoon of oil to the pan on a medium heat and place the fish in the pan. Be careful that the nuts do not burn. Allow 3-4 minutes per side (depending on fillet thickness).
5. Serve the fish along-side a bowl of warm cous cous on freshly sliced beef tomatoes and steamed samphire.

crust-coook-2

 

Fillets come in 8 parts…

Mrs Blair says I love to make things complicated and many people who have worked for me say the same. But if you want to do it right, selling fish just is complicated.  If my wife knew that I divided up my wolf fish portions into eight classifications, she’d grimace (then smile—she’s very tolerant).

Today we were delivered some wolf fish. Luckily my supplier had at least filleted it. And indeed skinned it (wolf fish has a beautiful leopard-spotted but very tough skin). All I had to do was portion my fillets. And if you take this job seriously, you get straight into the simple fact that not all parts of the fillet are equal.

wolf-fish-dt10715849

Wolf fish fillets

These were large fillets – up to one and a half kilos each. That’s a good start – this size yields nice thick fillet steaks – the perfect serving. But only from the middle. A one kilo fillet gives two good 200 gram boneless steaks from its middle. But then you have the other 600 grams to deal with. The tail end—a modest morsel—we sell those, along with other little chunks from trimming the fish, as “misshapes”, a popular section of our website.

Then there’s the front end of the fillet. Now that’s where your problems really get into gear. A long row of pin bones are embedded like no other pin bones. They laugh at boning pliers. You have to cut them out in a long strip. So there goes 70 grams straight into the bin. Above the pinbones you have what we call a “bullet”, its slightly non-rigueur elongation being compensated by its thickness, but with a rather gratuitous pointy end where the fillet joins into the top of the head. We trim the point off to make the bullet smarter. But it has to be more than the point – this trimming is much more attractive if it’s a decent size, so you cut away not just the point but enough of the bullet to make it a good mouthful. Bullet points go with tail ends into the misshapes tray. So that’s about 800 grams accounted for.

Misshapes are not the most glamorous cuts of fish but they are still good quality, tasty fish at an affordable price.

pollack-bowl

Misshapes are not the most glamorous cuts of fish but they are still good quality, tasty fish at an affordable price.

Now I’m left with what the fish trade calls the flap. This is the part below the pin bones where the fillet is thinnest. Feel the flesh over your ribs – not much there, is there? It’s the same with fish. Often, the flap is simply thrown away.  What a mistake! This is often the tastiest part of the fish because it’s rich in oils, which nature has implanted there to keep the fish’s vital organs working in even the coldest seas,

Sushi-lovers all know the fabled “toro”, the beautifully buttery belly cut of tuna (toro means “melting”) – and by far the most expensive part of the tuna. Salmon belly is also revered in sushi bars. And the reason these are well known is that tuna and salmon are quite sizeable fish, so although the belly is only a small fraction of the total fish, that fraction is big enough to be a recognised item.

tuna-anatomy

Source: luxegourmets.com

My wolf fish flaps were not in this league. The flap has a thick edge immediately below the pin bones, rapidly diminishing to a sizeable triangle of flesh barely three millimetres thick. And, dammit!, bearing a few rib bones which the filleter overlooked, not to mention a latex like membrane on what was the inside. And, oh, just to add to my woes, scraps of skin on the other side where the skinning machine—discouraged by the delicateness of the flap—had failed to do its job properly. You can see why the flap often ends up in the bin. Of course, this course of action adds to the cost of the fillet steaks and bullets.

Removing that membrane and those bits of skin is an exceptionally laborious process. I’d guess the knifework takes about 30 times as long per gram of saleable fish as the knifework for all the rest of the fillet. But it leaves you with a piece of wolf fish toro which—although I confess I have never encountered in any sushi bar—is a delightful piece of sashimi. Not in the tuna toro league, but very tasty by any standard.

So the last job is to sort through my wolf fish sashimi, dividing it into thick upper flap pieces and thin lower flap pieces, and then assigning it grade 1 or grade 2 status depending on its shape and general attractiveness.

Fortunately my trusty fish manager, Marc (he usually does the knifework I describe above, but was on holiday today), likes nothing better than to call me down to his filleting board to discuss precisely how best to portion a fillet. Bullets, fillet steaks, tail ends, bullet points, thin sashimi, thick sashimi, grades one and two—he’s not discouraged. Bless him. He understands.

marc-for-blog