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Cooking fish is clear-cut, if you just follow a few basic rules and you will plate up dishes to contend with the best of restaurants. It is recommended that we eat at least three or more portions of fish a week, as the experts have proved that if you eat more fish you are less likely to suffer from heart disease and cancer.
The fat in fish is omega-3, which seems to keep blood from getting sticky and to reduce the chances of having a stroke.
Maureen and myself well, we just like fish and seafood for its handiness, simplicity of cooking, taste and if it’s good for us well, that’s a bonus!
Fish and seafood is available to buy fresh, frozen, or cured, your fishmonger or supermarket fish counter should stock a large choice of each of the groups of seafood there are 3 main groups of fish;
White Sea Fish
White Fish (wet fish) including Cod, Haddock, Plaice, Whiting, Pollack, Saithe (Coley), Hake, Monkfish, Dover Sole, Lemon Sole, Megrim, Witch, Brill, Turbot, Halibut, Dogfish, Skates, Rays, John Dory, Bass, Ling, Catfish, and Redfish
White fish are divided into two types round and flat.
Large round white fish such as Cod and Coley are usually sold in steaks, fillets, or cutlets.
The small round species such as Whiting and Haddock are usually sold in fillets.
With flat fish, the larger species such as Halibut and Turbot are sold whole in fillets and as steaks
Smaller flat fish like Plaice and Sole are usually sold whole, trimmed, or filleted.
Herring, Mackerel, Pilchard, Sprat, Horse Mackerel, Whitebait, and Tuna
Oil-rich fish such as Herring and Mackerel are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have a lowering effect on blood fats; this decreases the chance of blood vessels clogging up with cholesterol. Oil-rich fish is also a good source of vitamins A and D.
Fresh Water Fish
Salmon, Trout, Perch, Bass, Bream, Pike, Arctic Char
(Molluscs and Crustaceans)
- Clams, Cockles, Whelks, Periwinkles, Mussels (Today’s Catch), Oysters, Lobster, Crab, Prawns, Crayfish, Scallops, Sea Urchins, Shrimp, Squid, Octopus, and Cuttlefish
Always ask for assistance when selecting your fish and shellfish especially if you are not sure how it should be prepared and cooked your fishmonger should be happy to prepare fresh fish for you in exactly the way you want, if what you want is not available, species of the same type can always be substituted and once again a good fishmonger can help you out.
We should be eating at least two portions of fish a week including one of oily fish. Fish and shellfish are good sources of a variety of vitamins and minerals, and oily fish is particularly rich in omega 3 fatty acids. But if we want to make sure there are enough fish to eat now, and in the future, we need to start thinking about the choices we make when we choose which fish we eat.
Anyway enough of all that lets get to the main point of what we hope will be a weekly or fortnightly part of our blog;
Mussels have earned an eminent place in the culinary echelon. The Romans adored them and the French King Louis XVIII was a great enthusiast. Known to man for thousands of years, mussels are abundant in the Atlantic, though they are now often commercially cultivated. All along the coast, you’ll find mussels attached to small stones, seaweed and rocks; the larger ones are collected during low tide at the water’s edge.
It is said that in 1235, a ship loaded with sheep was wrecked in Aiguillon Bay. An Irishman named Walton, the only one of three crewmen to survive, lowered a net stretched over four pilings into the silt to collect his food. He soon noticed clusters of mussels appearing on the wooden posts, growing at a faster rate than in their natural banks. The first site for cultivating mussels was established in 1246 and the collecting stakes were called "bouchots" or "posts”.
Mussels are truly one of nature’s most delightful delicacies; they are extremely high in proteins, calcium, and iron while being low in fat and they are low in calories they contain a number of vitamins and minerals and are easily digested, not to mention they are decidedly inexpensive and good value for money.
Did you know that in 2009 one of Scotland’s leading shellfish companies clinched a deal to supply thousands of kilos of Scottish mussels per week to Belgium, the world’s biggest consumer of mussels, their national dish Belgians consume around a hundred thousand tonnes of mussels each year. Delhaize came to Isle of Shuna because they are one of the few companies in the world that can supply the best quality and consistency of supply of Scottish rope grown mussels, as well as extending availability and sustainability throughout the year.
Shetland Mussels themselves received the ultimate accolade by celebrity French chef Jean-Christophe Novelli during a visit to the islands to attend Shetland’s Food Festival visiting the shellfish farm Blueshell Mussels for a boat trip to see at first hand the mussels being harvested from their growing ropes, followed by a tasting session back ashore, he said “I was particularly impressed by the quality of the mussels grown in the clean waters around Shetland. These mussels are in my opinion the best in the world.”
They are also excellent for your heart, containing the highest amount of omega-3 of any shellfish (this is the naturally occurring fatty acid that is believed to lower blood pressure).
The protecting shells of the blue mussel are smooth, glossy, and dark blue or navy in colour, whilst the juicy meat contained within may range from a bright orange to a pale cream.
The difference in colour of the meat has nothing to do with a difference in taste, although some do say that the orange meat is fleshier and tastier.
The orange meat is found in the shell of a mature female mussel, whilst the pale cream meat mussels are males or immature females.
Mussels can grow in the wild or as is most popular nowadays, due to a huge demand and consumption, they can also be cultured or farmed.
Look for bright, clean, tightly closed unbroken shells. Fresh mussels smell briny-fresh, not ‘fishy’. When buying mussels you need to allow at least 1 pint (570 ml) per person for a first course, and 1½ to 2 pints (about 1 litre) for a main course. That may seem a lot, but some will have to be discarded and, once they have been shelled, mussels are very small and light.
Best eaten within a day of buying
PREPARING AND COOKING
Don’t be tricked by how upmarket they look, mussels are the definitive uncomplicated seafood. Clean them, sauté them, steam them and hey up you’ll have a dish everyone will be wowed there are many ways to serve the mussels, but the most classic is Moules Mariniere the mussels are offered in a sauce of white wine, shallots, parsley, and butter.
The ritual of cleaning and To Prepare them sounds more bother than it actually is. When you get them home, plonk the mussels straightaway into a sinkful of cold water, first of all throw out any that float to the top, then leave the cold tap running over them while you take a small knife and scrape off all the barnacles and pull off the little hairy beards. Discard any mussels that are broken, and any that are open and refuse to close tight when given a sharp tap with a knife. After you’ve cleaned each one, place it straight in another bowl of clean water.
When they’re all in, swirl them around in three or four more changes of cold water to get rid of any lingering bits of grit or sand. Leave the cleaned mussels in cold water until you’re ready to cook them. As an extra safety precaution, always check mussels again after cooking this time discarding any whose shells haven’t opened.
You can in addition find mussels served with sauces made with beer, or cream, or vegetable stock.
For the greatest authenticity, use a shell to crack open the mussels, not your fork.
Did I say that they are very good for you an 85 gram portion of cooked blue mussels contain 20 grams of protein and only 147 calories; it is rich in iron, manganese, phosphorous, selenium, zinc and vitamins C and B12. Mussels are low in fat, only containing 0.7 grams of saturated fat in an 85 gram portion. They are, though an extremely rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in oily fish and other foods but are not produced by the body. The consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids helps prevent cardiovascular and heart disease and is an important part of a healthy diet, promoting a healthy brain as well as a healthy body. Mussels in fact contain higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids than any other shellfish.
Here below is one of our favourite recipes you can find more on our MyDish page.
Thyme Steamed Mussels
A quick, easy, flavoursome and attractive dish, the bacon and leeks truly enhance the mussels.
I have already mentioned that we both have a weakness for mussels and that I would be including our favourite ways of serving them and once again this recipe is no exception.
In the 1970’s when we served fresh mussels at the Willow Tree Restaurant, Bolton-le-Sands, this was the dish that got the most praise and using the freshest mussels from Morecambe Bay, the thyme which grew in the garden and serving it with the watercress that grew in the stream that ran through the property it was no wonder it got the praise it did. Now when we decide to have mussels for a meal we do have a little difficulty in choosing which recipe to use, Maureen has her favourite and I have mine, oh what a hard life we lead‼
Serves / Makes: 2 main course servings, or 4 starters
Prep-Time: 8 minutes
Cook-Time: 10 minutes
YOU WILL NEED;
1 kilo, fresh mussels
6 rashers, smoked streaky bacon, chopped into small pieces
2 baby leeks, sliced on the diagonal
30 grams, butter
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
250mls, white wine
4 sprigs fresh thyme
250mls, double cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
20 grams, freshly chopped parsley, we sometimes use coriander or a favourite herb to use is chervil
Wash the mussels in a colander to remove any dirt or grime. Pick through the mussels and remove the beard Discard any which does not close when tapped.
Heat half the butter in a pan, and then sizzle the bacon for 3 to 4 minutes until starting to brown.
Add the leeks, onion, and garlic and, then sweat everything together for 4 to 5 minutes until soft.
Turn the heat up high, add the mussels’ thyme and wine, then cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until the mussels until the mussels begin to open.
Add the cream, seasoning and parsley, stirring the ingredients with a spoon heat through making sure all the mussels are open Discard any that remain closed.
Spoon the mussels and the other bits into a dish, then place the pan back on the heat and boil the juices for 1 min with the rest of the butter.
Divide the mussels between two bowls if serving as a main course 4 bowls for a starter and pour the sauce left in the pan over them.
Serve with crusty bread to mop up all the juices and Enjoy!
If you like the Moules Pots Why Not Purchase Them From Where We Buy Ours at Amazon.co.uk
Also for more recipes For Mussels Try These sites;
Seafish the authority on seafood, BBC-Food-Mussel Recipes, Steamed Mussels with Fyne Ales Highlander Beer and Arran Mustard, Mussels with Leeks, Cider & Cream, and finally but not least is Mussels with beer.
Tagged: Bass, Brill, Catfish, Clams, Cockles, Crab, Crayfish, Cuttlefish, Dogfish, Dover Sole, Haddock, Hake, Halibut, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Ling, Lobster, Megrim, Monkfish, Mussels (Today’s Catch), Octopus, Oysters, Periwinkles, Plaice, Pollack, Prawns, Rays, Saithe (Coley), Scallops, Sea Urchins, Shrimp, Skates, Squid, Turbot, Whelks, Whiting, Witch