In this video, one of our talented filters performs a canoe cut on a European Atlantic sea bass. We have only just started selling this ‘ready 2 stuff’ fish. All but the pin bones have been removed from the bass making it easy for you in your home. The skill is shown by not cutting through the bottom of the fish into the belly. By keeping the bottom sealed it will lock in the moisture and flavour from the stuffing.
Over the years gurnard hasn’t been a star of the show, partly because of its obscure winged appearance. Trawler-men would throw them back and lobster fisherman would use them for bait. In recent years it’s humble reputation has changed as top chefs such as Nathan Outlaw are promoting modern gurnard recipes. In other countries such as New Zealand, gurnard is placed in very high regard. Gurnard is a good choice of wild Atlantic fish from a sustainability perspective.
Red mullet is packed full of flavour and has been adored throughout history. 2,000 years ago, show off Romans had a mania for red mullet. According to Suetonius, prices reached 10,000 sesterces per fish… about ten times the working man’s annual wage. All of our red mullet is from the British coast. Don’t be fooled you may commonly see cheap red mullet but I can almost guarantee you that it is Indo-Pacific goatfish being sold as red mullet.
John dory is a peculiar looking fish. The john dory has a most impressive mouth that hugely overextends to snatch up its small live prey. The john dory has a black spot on each side of it’s body that is said to be the thumbprint of St.Peter. The Japanese love john dory to make sashimi because of its delicate white flesh, they call it ‘Matoudai’. Read this luxurious john dory in an orange glaze recipe to get the mouth-watering.
Morecombe bay is synonymous with potted shrimps. ‘Potted shrimps’ are peeled brown British shrimps that are cooked in clarified butter and then set in the butter. The traditional accompaniment is a generous pile of thinly sliced bread and butter and a pot of tea. But you should try tipping a pot onto a very hot crispy baked potato. Check out this video to watch some of the catch methods.
About a year ago we started to see stone bass emerging on seafood merchant’s price lists and restaurant menus. We were mildly curious in this new fish but didn’t immediately enquire further.
A month or two later we were talking about sea bass and the merits of the farmed fish coming from Greece and Turkey. The one thing we agreed that let this popular fish down was its size. We were not able to find fish large enough to yield our luxury signature cut – ‘fillet steak’. A sea bass of 3KG plus would give you this cut, but they are increasingly harder to acquire and will cost a small sack of gold.
At this point, we started reconsidering stone bass after hearing you can buy them at a size of 7KG plus! In the world of farmed fish, this is a big achievement! Putting our main motivation of a gloriously large stone bass fillet steak aside, we saw it as a good substitute to the pressured wild Atlantic sea bass.
So what is stone bass?
Dare we say it? Stone bass is, in fact, a ‘marketing’ name for a fish species called meagre from the Sciaenide family. You can understand why they didn’t think it’s normal name was that sexy can’t you? If you would like to learn more about meagre it’s latin name is Argyrosomus regius. Depending on where you are in the world you may see it described as salmon bass, shade-fish or even corvina.
In the wild, this fish has been reported to grow to 2 metres in length and up to 55 KG. Most of the world’s wild stone bass are caught off the coast of Egypt and Morocco.
The table below shows farmed stone bass is quite a new global offering and it only became commercially available from about 2010 onwards.
We get really excited when we see new species like the stone bass being successfully farmed to an unprecedented size. We have seen similar trends recently with Gigha and their large 8KG Halibut. This trend gives us an enthusiasm for the future of the global farmed fish offering.
Stone bass recipes
If you Google ‘stone bass recipes’ you will start to find some new and exciting flavour combinations from food bloggers, restaurants, cookery schools and chefs. Have a look at a few of these:
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
Salt & pepper Cous cous
200G cous cous
250ml veg stock or water
50g Sun dried tomatoes
1 Bunch of Greek basil
Tblsp tomato pesto
Salt & Pepper
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
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.
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.
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).
Serve the fish along-side a bowl of warm cous cous on freshly sliced beef tomatoes and steamed samphire.
It’s about a year since we introduced stone bass and we have been very pleased with our customer’s feed back to the fish. If you like sea bass, you are going to like stone bass.
Whilst we sell over 400 types of seafood from around the world we do have a special place in our hearts for British seafood. This isn’t on the grounds of national pride and allegiance to the flag, the British offering is varied and superb. We are graced with the likes of Dover sole, Cromer crab and the beautiful sea bass.
This is part 1 of our guide to some of our favourite British seafood.
Brill looks very similar to turbot, and is held in almost equal esteem. In fact, as Buttercup tells Captain Corcoran in HMS Pinafore, the turbot is no more than an ambitious brill. And here’s Gordon Ramsay: “Brill is more delicate than turbot, but quite delectable.”
The Dover sole hardly needs an introduction. Dover sole is Britain’s most loved luxury flatfish. You may recognise the dish ‘Sole meuniere’, a famous French method of dusting the sole in flour and frying in a burnt butter sauce. Dover sole is also very enjoyable when plain grilled. Try and avoid heavy sauces and dominant tastes when cooking this delicate beauty. We tend to source most of our Dover sole from Cornwall.
OK….so we’re not about to try and convince you that hake is one of the prettiest fish out of the water! But look at that beautiful crispy skin on that thick fillet steak. The flesh is white, delicate and flakey. We have brought hake up to 7KG in size. Larger hakes give you the flexibility to yield a range of high end cuts such as the one in the image above. Our hake comes from MSC certified fisheries and is a great choice from a sustainability stand point. If you tend to favour cod and haddock we would recommend this fish to you.
The palourde is one of the most sought after & rare clams available on the UK market. There is a clam that looks almost identical to it called a ‘Manila clam’ or ‘Japanese clam’ and often they are falsely sold under the name palourde.
British lobsters are in season throughout the summer months and are landed nationwide. We buy most of our native lobsters from Cornish or Scottish seafood merchants between June – September. You can buy native lobster outside of the summer months, but be prepared huge prices for the luxury. Our natives range in colour from black to bright electric blue!
In the video we are experimenting with a new supply of UK reared ASC king prawns. We cooked these the day after they were fished out of the water in the North of England. We heated olive oil in a pan, put the prawns in whole, added garlic, salt and pepper. We hot fried them for about 4 minutes. When eating these prawns, you are going to get dirty… so embrace it and get hands on. TIP: make sure not to burn the garlic as this will bitter the taste and take away from its naturally sweet taste.