Use sea bass, stone bass or hake
Tailpieces are cut from the lower end of the fish. They are usually between 15cm – 25cm long. They have the backbone running through the middle of the joint and are wrapped around their circumference in skin. The bone and skin mean the piece stays moist when cooking and is packed with flavour. We recently had a go with a sea bass tailpiece.
1 400g tailpiece
1 pinch of saffron
Salt & pepper
- Pre-heat your oven to 190c. Prepare a piece of foil that is roughly 30cm x 30cm.
- Slice a lemon and lay it on the base of your foil, place your tail piece on top of it. Season the tail piece with salt and pepper. Sprinkle a pinch of saffron over the fish, making sure to get some it on the exposed flesh…for presentation purposes. Slice some fresh mint and spread it over the fish.
- Close the foil around your fish to make a sealed package. Place your fish in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Take your fish out of the oven, open the foil and let it stand for a few minutes. A good indication of it being ready is the meat coming away from the back bone. Slice down what would be the top and bottom side of the fish to make it easier to peel off the two lovely fillet steaks.
As a company we pride ourselves on our diverse range and availability. Alongside our many finned fish, we sell a large assortment of crustaceans and shellfish. We sell 8 kinds of mussels, 10 kinds of lobsters, an army of crabs and more. Today, we take a look at the humble cockle.
Cockles are bivalve molluscs. This means their shells are comprised of two hinged parts that protect a soft body. Cockles only live in salt water, and bury themselves beneath the sand at the sea bed. They filter water through their shells in order to feed on plankton and other microscopic organisms. You can tell a cockle apart from other clams by its pale colour and ridges on its shell. Most cockles available to buy will be 2-4cm in diameter, with prized specimens reaching 8cm across.
We sell cockles shell-on, shelled, or brined. In our opinion, the best cockles come from Essex. Many people may remember buying a pot, or pint, of cockles in vinegar on a trip to the coast, and we like to provide the means for you to enjoy that again. If choosing to buy our raw, shell-on cockles, ensure you wash them thoroughly to remove any sand that has been brought up with them at catch.
Cockles are great by themselves, or as part of a shellfish selection. They require short cooking time, and benefit from traditional flavours such as lemon and white wine.
The Fish Society’s choice: Cod with Cockles and white wine
Who we are
We are a small company with 10 employees in Wormley, England. Wormley is forty miles from the sea and a hundred miles from the nearest fishing port, but Alistair (company founder) lived when he decided to start The Fish Society nearly 25 years ago. And it’s where fish arrives every morning, despatched by our 150 suppliers the day before via the UK’s very efficient fish delivery network. Fish landed and auctioned on Day 1 in Cornwall, The Hebrides, Aberdeen and Norfolk, and indeed in the big French port of Boulogne is processed and frozen by us on Day 2.
Why we’re different
First of all, we’re 100% committed to frozen. All fishmongers rely on frozen fish for at least some of their range – otherwise, they’d have no prawns. And when fresh fish is scarce they might offer frozen as a fallback. But we believe that unless you’re buying fresh fish at the port to eat today or tomorrow, frozen is ultimately superior – as long as the fish being frozen is of the highest quality. Distance delivery of fish is an expensive business. You need fast delivery and sophisticated packaging.
It’s much better to buy fish frozen super-fast in a commercial plant, then expertly labelled and packed, and delivered to you still frozen – than to buy fresh fish and freeze it slowly in your home freezer.
These days every fishmonger must have a policy on sustainability. This is not a simple subject.
A hundred years of overfishing – intensified over the last 40 years by technology and globalisation – has reduced the stocks of many species of fish to critically low levels.
Today, most of the fish mankind eats is farmed. This takes some of the pressure off wild stocks, yet fish farming sometimes seems no less of a threat than overfishing: Scottish lochs full of farming waste, mangroves cleared for prawn farming, farmed species of every kind escaping to mix genes with wild stocks. The good news, as fish farming has become the dominant source of seafood they farmers are getting cleaner and smarter.
Fish is a complex global industry. Our fish might pass through six or more companies before it reaches us. We might routinely buy the same item from three suppliers each with its own supply chain. We are a small business and with a very wide range. It is frankly impossible for us to put our hands up and say we know we are 100% sustainable. We don’t believe any company retailing a wide range of fish could justify such a claim.
It is not very comfortable to be honest with you about the challenges presented by sustainability.
And yet, there are some positives. Overfishing began to be addressed 60 years ago when Iceland declared a 200-mile limit, expelled our trawlers and restricted its own. Fishing control got a big boost when Canada spectacularly wiped out its Newfoundland cod fishery in 1992. Norway, the EU, Canada and the USA read the runes. In the nick of time, and by a two steps forward one step backward process, politicians and fishermen do seem to be getting to grips with overfishing. Even China – since 2000, the fastest expanding big plunderer of fish stocks – has now officially acknowledged that the game is up.
Only the poorest third world countries have failed to grasp the blinding truth that continued overfishing can only spell disaster. There is a long way to go, but the direction is forwards.
The finest Pacific salmon – The Chinook or King salmon. These king salmon come from the fashionable Ora King salmon farm in the Marlborough Sounds, NZ.
This is an emerging favourite with fish farmers because it grows very large very fast. And with chefs, who like the firm texture and excellent flavour.
Chilean Sea Bass
This fish has come a long way in the 15 years since Prince Charles famously campaigned on its behalf. Ours will come from a well-managed fishery on the edge of Antarctica.
Much could be said for the first man or woman who pulled an octopus out of the sea, gazed upon its large head and long arms and thought, “I wonder if this would taste better boiled or fried?”
Although ‘common’ octopus (as this species is known) is found virtually worldwide, the very best eating octopus comes from Portugal or neighbouring Spain. We only stock octopus sourced from Mediterranean countries. They come conveniently block frozen in trays.
Octopus vary greatly in colour, this is due to the chromatophores, pigment-containing light-reflecting cells that are present in their skin. These cells can be controlled by their muscle movement, and provide an octopus with a means of camouflage. Octopus are mainly grey/maroon and turn pink and red during cooking.
The prized part of an octopus is, of course, its arms; or tentacles as most people know them. Growing up to 2 feet in length, they are valued for their meat as well as their looks. The underside of each tentacle is covered in suckers which are used by the octopus for gripping and handling.
All of the flesh of an octopus is edible, with only its ink sack and innards being discarded in normal cooking. However, don’t be too hasty to throw the ink away. Octopus ink is highly regarded by experimental chefs who use the ink to dye rice, or cook the octopus in its ink for a change of flavour and appearance.
When cooking octopus pay close attention to your timings, over or under cooking can result in a rubbery texture which will spoil the experience.
The Fish Society’s choice: Portuguese octopus stew