22

Jun

Sunday Brunch

Posted on June 22, 2016 by CJ Jackson, CEO

IN PRAISE OF BRITISH SHELLFISH

We often find that many of our customers are nervous about handling shellfish. Concerns around seafood poisoning and how to tell it is safe to eat and how to cook and prepare it tend to make those who are not everyday shellfish consumers either avoid it or buy it with trepidation. 
There is also relatively unfounded concerns over cholesterol levels in some shellfish.

I would say I eat some shellfish everyday: cold water prawns, mussels, shrimp and oysters... my favourite.
Consumers mistakenly think it is expensive - but it doesn't have to be!

Firstly some shellfish are sourced from sustainable sources: rope grown mussels are grown on thick ropes hanging in the water. They feed on nutrients naturally occuring in the water, they grow quickly and they are far down the food chain, the harvesting also does little damage to the environment.  

Other favourites include cockles - when they are in season, cuttlefish (great alternative to squid) and dressed crab. Cuttlefish is an under loved species and is far better than squid and on the market today (June 2016) is about 1/3rd of the price! Crabs and our native lobsters are mainly caught around our coast and if caught in an ink pot will be more likely to be alive on landing - so that anything undersized can go straight back to live another day!

Interestingly only last year I was working on a TV programme that was looking at Victorian England and all the inexpensive shellfish that was available then. We all think the 'buzz' word and concerns about sustainability came to our conciousness around 30 years ago - but in 1885 minimum sized crab was being sought. Native oysters were also measured on landing using an oyster ring and the beds - certainly in Suffolk, were strictly controlled. Oysters were a very cheap and popular food then and many in London and Essex had been over harvested - so strict measures were in place to protect the species.

When it comes to price somethings are expensive and some aren't. Fresh native lobsters are an expensive treat, but brown edible crab - freshly cooked - is wonderful and a fraction of the price.

How to be sure it is safe - that's easy - buy from a reputable merchant and ask when it was either cooked or defrosted. Many products are defrost especially prawms. And of course - if it isn't good you can tell by the smell. Fresh and it smells pleasantly of the sea and if it isn't - you will know about it! Aim to purchase and consume on the same day if you can. 

More blogs on specific shellfish and fish to come....

See CJ Jackson on Sunday Brunch this weekend - June 26th - talking about shellfish and how to make a great and manageable 'no fuss' shell platter.




 

CJ Jackson