Continued from Part 1…
I learnt many things on my visit to The Fish Society, but there’s too many to mention in this post — so here are a few highlights of the day instead:
1: James’s story of what happened when a couple of Malaysian PhD students dropped by to have a look around (not the usual practice, but exceptions can sometimes be made!). The pair were studying the biological elements of fish and were nothing less than horrified to discover that after the turbot heads had been cut-off…they were to be discarded and never seen again! They then announced that where they came from, fish-head-curry was a traditional part of the diet. All this talk of curry gave James a great idea (and made him feel very guilty about wasting such precious meat). The result? Thanks to the two Malaysians, you can now purchase both turbot heads and halibut heads from the website!
2: Mark’s cooking. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that Mark, who used to be a chef at the Savoy, knows his way around a kitchen. And today was a good day to come by, as at mid-day, Izzy – the guy who I mentioned was there to shoot some video – started setting up to film Mark cooking Portuguese turbot…and James eating it. The video wasn’t just a damn good excuse for James to scoff loads of turbot, though, it also had an educational aspect. James had been wanting to talk about where their turbot came from for some time, and a video was the ideal medium to show-case not only the fish, but explain a few important things in person. For example, traditionally, the flap – a thin piece of flesh beneath where the vital organs sit – is cut off and discarded. James wanted to stress just how much of a shame this was. “Once you scrape away the filament,” he said, making me extremely jealous but I tried not to show it, “there’s a fantastic piece of meat inside.” No, it was impossible, I was really jealous!
3: Getting to see all the amazing fish first-hand. I’ve always been a fish-lover. I’ll always be a fish lover! And there’s just something about getting to see quality fish in the flesh. During the course of the day I saw the enormous Swedish crayfish variety that had recently been imported – each one half the size of a plate (??? not sure what that was, but I sure wish Sweish crayfish were this size… James) – and learned a fair bit about how to cook fish properly. Mark’s tips for cooking turbot were simple but effective: firstly, seal the meat by flash-frying it meat side down, and then finish it off by turning it onto its skin. 6 or 7 minutes is all you need with turbot, and the final touch is all about the sauce. To see the video in question and learn more, click here.
And so ends the tale of my visit to The Fish Society.