Last year the folks at New Wave Fish Shop invited me around to meet the mongers, take some photos and talk fish. Today, I’m finally posting highlights from that visit, plus a fab way for preparing sea trout from Ben who runs the shop.
Last night I made one of the best fish dishes I’ve ever made. Credit is due to New Wave Fish Shop and my fishmonger, Ben, who not only supplied me with a beautiful piece of sea trout, but also told me how to cook it in the most delicious way.
Ben is always extremely patient with my fish-related clueless. My usual series of questions include: “What’s good?” “How do I use this?” “What would you serve with it?”
Ben wooed me with the sea trout, saying he’d made it the night before and it was “loooovely”. He further explained how to pan-fry it to get great flavour and a nice crispy skin (details are below).
“Serve it with a simple salad: some broad beans, peppers, tomatoes, red onion, maybe some basil – it’s fantastic.”
Back at home, I followed his advice and created a meal that totally shocked me – that I could cook something so totally delicious just thoroughly made my evening. And I couldn’t have done it without Ben’s help. That, and the supremely high quality of the fish itself. There’s no denying, this is one beautiful piece of fish:
In general, I’ve always been impressed by the quality of New Wave’s fish, and this is probably one of the reasons I’ve continued eating fish since I started doing so last year. In addition to Ben’s help, I’ve also found their Twitter feed immensely valuable, and through that I’ve gotten to know the New Wave Fish people pretty well. So well, in fact, that they invited me around last year to take some photos and get a closer look at how they run things.
New Wave Fish Shop is the retail arm of New Wave Seafood, a specialist fish supplier run by Tim Boyd. I’d never met Tim, and it was cool to hear about how he got started with the whole fish thing:
“It started when I discovered fishing from a young age. I was always fascinated with fish and it was always my favourite food to eat if we went on holiday or went out to eat. My family said I would always work in something related to fish one day! When I moved to the Cotswolds, I worked for a fish wholesaler, but it was the fresh fish that really interested me, and over the next few years I learned about the different species, the way they were caught and which were the best species for eating.”
Tim’s been a big proponent of the sustainable seafood thing since before it became fashionable to do so. As such, New Wave Seafood is approved by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and support the Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS). They have a firm policy to buy seafood from well-managed, sustainable sources, and wherever possible, buy fish that are line-caught by small dayboats to minimize the impact on the marine environment.
Being a fish newbie, I wanted to know what makes fish “good quality”. Tim says:
“Look at the eyes, they should be bright. Look at the gills – they should be bright red. The fish should be shiny and have no smell, and if you push the flesh it should be firm and bounce back, not indent.”
So how do you prepare fish in the best way possible? Well, that’s Ben’s department – in addition to doling out the advice, he also makes his own fish cakes and fish pies to sell at the shop.
But when it comes to cooking fish itself, Ben is always about cooking things simply. Below I describe his method for sea trout, proof that when it comes to great ingredients, simple techniques (and an oven-proof pan) are where it’s at.
Ben’s Awesome Way to Prepare Sea Trout
First season the fish with salt and pepper, then pan-fry skin-side down for two minutes in an oven-save frying pan. Finally, move the pan into a 200 C oven for 5 minutes.
Serve skin side up with a nice salad. Ben suggested a salad of broad beans, peppers, tomato, red onion and basil. Asparagus is also good. I did a hybrid of his ideas and made a salad of boiled potatoes, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, red onion, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, parsley and basil.
The result was like heaven on a plate. I will definitely be making this again. And consequentially, the leftovers made a terrific breakfast salad the next morning:
Big thanks to Tim, Ben, Maisie and everyone at New Wave Seafood for showing me around helping me come to grips with this whole fish eating thing. You’ve been a source of great food and inspiration.
You can find more photos of the beautiful fish at New Wave Fish Shop on Flickr.
UPDATE [April 28, 2012]: A version of this article now also appears in The Foodie Bugle online magazine, a great read if you haven’t checked it out already!