If you’re the kind of person who likes to have a good look at the fresh fish counter in your local supermarket, one would assume that you had a reasonable knowledge of fish that are available in the UK. But how often have you seen a fresh turbot resting on the ice? Or was it a brill?
Despite turbot being caught all over the UK, it is the lesser known cousin of the plaice and lemon sole. Turbot are almost completely circular in shape, with colours ranging from the muddiest brown to an almost grassy green. They have no scales, but are instead covered in many lumps and bumps, feeling rough like a stone. The turbots cousin, the brill, shares many of these traits but can be told apart by its longer body.
A wild turbot can grow to an impressive size, with championship catches weighing over 10 kilos. The largest turbot we have filleted here in the last year was 13kg. Below is a video we took of a 9.5kg turbot, this should help you gauge the size of the fish.
Sometimes, we sell whole turbot on our website, ranging between 1 and 3 kilos. These fish would happily feed a family of 4.
Turbot has good flavour on its own, and requires a short cooking time. Resist the temptation to over season and tart it up with other flavourings that will mask it’s beautiful, natural flavour.
The Fish Society’s choice: Turbot with champagne sauce
If you’ve ever bought fish from The Fish Society there’s a good chance it has gone past the watchful eyes of Lorna. Lorna is one of our longest standing members of staff, being with us for a dedicated 5 years. A well-versed fish worker now, Lorna almost ended up a baker working next door! Alistair saw her potential and made sure she stuck here with us, picking, packing, and preparing wild Halibut, Kingklip, Salmon and more.
An avid cycler, Lorna always finds time to work out between shifts. You would think we kept her fit enough lifting boxes of scampi and lemon sole in the deep freeze, but she enjoys the challenge of the gym. Did we hear talk of attending this years Tough Mudder?
Thanks again Lorna from everyone here at The Fish Society.
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.
We’ve been noticing a rise in the demand for fish for sashimi. It doesn’t just stop at salmon or tuna, there has been a rush on sea bass (Suzuki), turbot fin (engawa) and yellowtail kingfish belly (Hamachi) to name a few.
So…what is sashimi grade fish? Many people believe that sashimi grade fish is fish that has been authorised to be sold as ‘sashimi grade’. This is not true. ‘Sashimi grade’ is a term used to describe fish that is ‘best in class’. In a way, the concept of sashimi grade isn’t wrong in peoples minds, just the idea that there is an independent body regulating the quality is incorrect. Often we take customer calls with people referring to this mythical sashimi grade authority that doesn’t exist, we politely proceed to explain the term ‘sashimi grade’.
To justify selling fish under the term ‘sashimi grade’, the fish must be fresh and in good physical condition. It is very important that the fish is treated well from capture through to preparation. Bruising of the flesh can be detrimental to the texture and the overall raw eating experience. When we had a sashimi trainer visiting us at Fish Palace a few weeks ago he told us how fish destined for sashimi should be landed and packed in a very specific way to preserve the flesh integrity. For example, he said in Japan all fish may be laid on their left side all facing a specific way in the box, therefore leaving the right side untouched.
Have you ever seen one of the American fishing shows where they poke a little metal tube into a monster tuna withdrawing some meat? This process is grading the quality of the fish. At this stage, some of the very best fish are separated off for ‘AAA sashimi’ grade fish. ‘AAA sashimi grade’ is just a sashimi marketing term that is floated around in the wholesale seafood industry that I wanted to sneak into this post somewhere. 🙂
Here are last month’s top 5 selling sashimi items.
We are trying to expand our sashimi range and are open to new ideas from you on what we should offer. If you have any requests please email firstname.lastname@example.org