Stone Bass is on the rise

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.

stone bass fillet steak

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.

Whole stone bass

Estimate: 4KG fish

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.

global production

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.

Two farmed halibut

Alistair very happy with the two large farmed halibut from Gigha

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:

Our stone bass recipe – Stone bass in a nut crust

stone bass in a nut crust

In the nut crust ready for the pan

Ingredients:

Fish
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
2 eggs
Salt & pepper
Cous cous
200G cous cous
250ml veg stock or water
50g Sun dried tomatoes
1 Bunch of Greek basil
Tblsp tomato pesto
Red onion
Salt & Pepper

Method:

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.

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September Brochure 2017

A guide to great British seafood

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 – Scophthalmus rhombus

Brill fillet steak cooked in butter and dill

Brill fillet steak cooked in butter and dill

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.”

Dover SoleSolea solea

Dover soles

Three lovely Dover soles

Delicate white Dover sole fillets

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.

HakeMerluccius merluccius

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.

Parlourdes – Tapes decussatus

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.

Native lobstersHomarus gammarus

Native lobsters

Native lobsters

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!

 

Fried Garlic King Prawns

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.

August 2017 Brochure

Traditional lobster recipe, how to cook lobster & lobster reviews

Lobster is undoubtedly one of the finest culinary experiences a seafood gourmet could have.  Many people will have only eaten lobster dishes in a restaurant so the thought of cooking lobster recipes at home can be challenging. This is our one-stop guide to types of lobster, lobster recipes, how to eat lobster, lobster dishes and how to cook lobster.

The three main lobster species we sell are:

  • British lobster (Homarus gammarus) – also commonly known in the UK as a ‘native lobster’. British lobsters are in season throughout the summer months and are landed nationwide. I was told today by an experienced lobster fisherman that the best time to catch lobsters is during the Wimbledon fortnight, after that, they crawl back to where they came from. 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 to pay huge prices for the luxury.

  • American lobster / Maine lobster – (Homarus americanus) – Maine in the USA has an international reputation for their lobster export industryTheir export quality of lobster is high and thankfully they maintain a steady supply. This secondary supply of lobster feeds the demand when we are supplying you out of the UK season.

  • Rock Lobster’ or ‘Caribbean spiny lobster’ – (Palinuridae) – we buy our rock lobsters from the Caribbean, our most recent batch were a fine box from the Bahamas. Generally, we sell rock lobster tails, it’s much more efficient than sending out a whole lobster and most rock lobster recipes are lobster tail recipes. A rock lobster does not have claws like American or British lobsters, so the main prize is in the tail. In the southern hemisphere, they sometimes refer to them as ‘crayfish’, in the northern hemisphere, crayfish is the term used for the little hand sized freshwater crustaceans.

How to cook lobster

Methods can vary significantly depending on the lobster dish you are trying to create. Whilst we do not sell live lobster, we thought it would be useful to equip you with the knowledge of how to kill, cook and then prepare a lobster.

Dispatching a live lobster

  • Using a sharp knife, push the tip through the lobster’s body shell about 2cm back from the eyes. Once the tip of the blade is touching the board, roll the force of the knife down towards the board so that the sharp edge splits the shell between the lobster’s eyes. This will kill the lobster immediately.

Cooking a raw lobster

  • Bring a deep wide pot of water to the boil. Place your lobster in the boiling water and place a lid on the pot. A 500g lobster will take approximately 5 minutes to cook in boiling water. Use this equation to calculate how long to boil your lobster for.

Preparing a cooked lobster

  • Remove the claws from the lobster’s body: Twist the lobster claws and knuckle joint to remove them from the body.
  • Split the tail and body: Twist the tail and body in opposite directions. You may need to rinse the top of the tail meat to get rid of any unwanted gut that remains on the white meat.
  • Accessing the meat: Split the lobster tail in half down the centre of the back to expose two pearly white sides of lobster meat. We advise using a lobster pick to access the sweet meat in the knuckle. Unfortunately, getting the meat cleanly out of the cooked lobster claw is the most difficult exercise. Start by removing the small moving lower pincer by bending it backwards. Then using the back of a heavy knife tap the centre of the lobster claw firmly on the shell until it cracks in a horizontal line across the shell. The cracked part of the shell should now be easy to remove and expose half of the cooked claw meat. Gently pull the claw from within the shell. Once the meat is extracted, feel for the cartilage disc in the middle of the claw and work it out with some kitchen pliers.

Jamie Oliver’s handy video on prepping a cooked lobster

The Fish Society’s customer lobster reviews:

  • Mrs Patricia Doble: “For a special supper with favourite herbs or sauce these are top class value, we like them buttery whilst my daughter spikes them with chilli”
  • Mrs Miranda Worsley: “I ordered lobster for new year’s eve and it was delicious, i would certainly use the fish society again”
  • Mrs Julie Bell: “Excellent Lobster Tails, Prompt Delivery, Good Customer Service.”
  • Mike: “The lobster was perfect thanks. Lobster rolls with laverbread butter were praised by all. Just what was needed for a birthday treat. Mike”
  • Mrs Karen LaCoursiere: “We ordered from the Fish Society for the first time for a New Years Eve Dinner. We ordered Lobster, Crab and Scrimp. Our guests keep commenting on how wonderful everything tasted. We were very impressed with the quality and taste and will definitely order again.”

Lobster thermidor recipe

Ingredients

2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped

75g/3ozs grated Gruyere or Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon English mustard

2 tbsps finely chopped parsley or tarragon

100ml/3flozs double cream

a little cayenne pepper

50g/2oz butter

1 glass of white wine, sherry or cognac

salt and pepper

Method

1. Cut the cooked lobster in half length ways. Remove legs and clean underbelly, leaving torso plus head. Cut each tail lengthways. Remove meat and cut into one inch chunks.

2. Crack open claws and remove the meat. Best way: strike them with the bottom end of the blade of a heavy knife, almost as if hammering (not quite as hard).

3. Now deal with the rock lobster tails: these need to be cooked. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and add the tails. When the water returns to a rapid boil, turn down a little. Remove after 10 minutes. Leave to cool then treat like the red lobster tails.

4. Melt butter in a frying pan over a fairly high heat. Add shallots. Cook until soft. Add stock, and cream. Turn up heat and keep stirring until reduced by half. Now add the mustard, wine, parsley/tarragon and seasoning. Stir and blend.

5. Select four tail shells and lay them in a shallow grill-proof dish. Distribute the meat amongst them. Pour the sauce over the meat, scatter the cheese over and finish with the cayenne pepper. Finally, position your two reserved lobster heads at either end of the dish.

6. Place under a hot grill for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling. It’s ready!

Lobster tail recipe – Jamie Oliver – Lobster burger

Jamie Oliver – “This is a cross between a burger and a BLT, and I believe everyone should have the pleasure of eating it at least once in their life. I know lobster is seen as elitist food, but in Britain we’re never that far from the shore, so you can get lobster from any decent fishmonger. I made mini burgers on the day, but have written this recipe for regular ones – the process is the same, so do whichever you prefer. I’m only using the tail meat, but feel free to use the claws, too. ”

Lobster linguine – Great British Chefs

This recipe is great to be made with lobster tail or lobster meat. They also use king prawns to increase to fish to pasta ratio. We would recommend using wild Madagascan prawn tails. Their flavour is simply unrivalled in the prawn world.

Go to Great British Chef’s to see the recipe

live British lobster

Some beautiful live natives arriving at Fish Palace

July 2017 Brochure