Step aside cod and salmon – there really are plenty more fish in the sea.
We tend to be creatures of habit. Hands up if your online grocery shopping list is basically the same every week; you have a set rota of meals that vary slightly, depending on what’s in the fridge; and you know what you like – and are generally happy to keep it that way?
However, now a year into cooking and eating almost exclusively at home, you’d be forgiven for having grown bored of the usual, most scoffed culprits – tuna, salmon, prawns, cod and haddock.
So, now might just be the moment you expand your fish supper repertoire – and yes, you can still have chips with all of these…
Why? You might not have even heard of dab, but these little flatfish are a nifty alternative to plaice or lemon sole, which are generally overfished. Dabs are often a bycatch of trawler fishing, but look out for seine net caught ones where possible – a more sustainable and eco-friendly way of fishing.
How should I eat it? You’ll need a couple per person for a satisfying portion, hence why they rarely show up on restaurant menus – they’re too mini. However, at home, you can bung a tray of them in the oven and feed the whole family. Dust with flour and roast, or pan fry in butter (crisp that skin up) then serve with a huge dollop of tangy tartare sauce.
Why? A kilo of mussels for dinner is a speedy and thrifty shortcut to feeling as though you’re on holiday, sat in a little French cafe. Farmed and rope grown mussels are one of the most sustainable sources of seafood available, and take mere moments to cook. Plus, the whole theatre of eating them ought to be reason enough.
How should I eat them? You can go classic with moules mariniere (mussels in a creamy, garlicky, winey sauce with tons of parsley), or mix things up. They’re great in a red Thai curry broth, dredged through spicy tomato pasta, or breadcrumbed, baked and served with a fresh green salad.
3. Brown crab
Why? Crab is not just a ‘beside-the-seaside’ choice anymore, and brown crabs – especially those from Shetland – are a solid sustainable option (as long as they’re at least 13cm wide and not an egg-laden female). A very versatile ingredient, they are fiddly to dismantle, but once you get the knack, ‘dressing’ them becomes rather addictive.
How should I eat it? Whack the brown meat on toast with a squeeze of lemon juice and you’ll be happy, otherwise, consider lacing a creamy risotto with the white meat, mixing it with chilli and coriander and eating it on rounds of baguette, or stir-frying it whole – shell intact – with lots of chilli, ginger and onion for a punchy plate of Singapore chilli crab.
Why? Mackerel are just beautiful with that iridescent skin. Opt for line-caught and as fresh as you can get it (the eyes should be shiny).
How should I eat it? You really can’t beat it Turkish style: filleted, fried and stuffed in a sandwich with tomato, red onion and chilli flakes, but we’re also fond of it barbecued and paired with beetroot, or pan-fried and folded through a dill-heavy potato salad.
Why? Get over any squeamishness and embrace the drama of shucking and knocking back oysters. A brilliant source of protein, fun to prise from their shells, suited to all manner of toppings, and now subject of a new restoration hatching project in Hampshire, (sustainably farmed) oysters deserve much more attention than they get – especially in home kitchens.
How should I eat them? Raw with a little lemon juice. Raw with a little Tabasco sauce. Battered and deep-fried. Grilled with chilli butter. Tucked into a beef pie. The options are endless.