If you’ve been following this blog for a while then you’ll have seen that it’s not uncommon for The Fish Society to receive enquiries from fish lovers not just in the UK and Europe, but all over the world. For example, Albuquerque in New Mexico has a population somewhere in the region of 505,000 residents, and last week one of these enthusiastic residents emailed James to ask if they could ship some turbot out. Yes: frozen fish from the UK direct to New Mexico!To this, James understandably said “do you like turbot that much?” and mentioned that the delivery cost alone would be as much as $324 (£200). That may sound expensive, but it’s a pretty good deal actually, when you consider that New Mexico is approximately 5,000 miles (or 8,000 km) away.
And yes, apparently the customer really did like turbot that much.
Deliveries to the US aren’t just prohibitively expensive, either – thanks to bio-terrorism laws they’re also extremely complex and challenging to organise, as every single package needs to be inspected individually. Suffice to say, a safe delivery can never be 100% guaranteed and once it reaches customs, you’ll want to have a local agent in place to vouch for both you and the supplier who sent it. A headache, yes, but for quality fish we still think it’s worth it.
Among all the email enquiries, when I called James last Friday, he told me about a particularly impressive order which had just come through. “We’ve got a very exciting order which is going to Chamonix, to a magnificent sounding chalet,” he said. “We’re sending none other than a Plat des fruits de mer out – apparently there are no good fish there.”
For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Plat des fruits du mer is something of a French legend. Known the world over as the classic French seafood ensemble, it consists – in this case, but perhaps not all – of 8 different kinds of shellfish: a list which includes everything from mussels and winkles to prawns, brown shrimps, crab and lobster.
Yes…if you love seafood then it’s pretty brilliant!
The great thing about ordering this direct from The Fish Society is that all of it has already been perfectly cooked beforehand. All you’ll have to do is take it out of the box and arrange it accordingly on a pile of ice.
And if you were thinking that the Plat des fruits du mer is only loved by the French then think again – this dish has long been a hit in New York, and now it’s starting to gain notoriety in Los Angeles, too. Champagne and Chablis are the ideal drink to accompany this platter.
As far as whether to have this as a starter or a main course, there’s no right or wrong, and both options work equally well. Traditionally, the Plat des fruits du mer was an appetizer, but with a few extras like a good salad and crusty bread, there’s more than enough for an exquisite main course.
Looking to create some delicious home-made accouterments? In that case, a stone-ground mustard sauce will be excellent with the crab, and the scallops will benefit greatly from a Japanese pepper and citrus sauce (known as togarashi yuzu). Mayonnaise can also be spiced-up with a hint of saffron. There are endless options for this dish – for example, one European tradition sees the Plat des fruits du mer served with sweet butter on dark bread.