Sunday, 27 July 2014

The trouble with fish

By: Mr Robot

I have numerous issues with fish.

Firstly my Mother was freaked out by it. Despite a lifetime in nursing she somehow found the texture and smell of fresh fish appalling (as opposed to, say, as a midwife manually extracting and burning placentas) so fish was hardly a relished ingredient when I was growing up.

Even though we lived on the Norfolk Broads and had a fish van each Friday bringing it fresh from world-famous Cromer - No. So fish cooking was largely done by my Gran, on which there will be much, much more when I can bring myself to deal with it.

Secondly fish is, qua protein, rubbish. Nutrimetrically it probably ticks boxes you never cared about until big pharma told you to panic about it (*cough* Omega-3 *cough*) but as Something For Tea is utterly lacking in the key respect of texture. I want to chew my dinner goddamnit. I'm constantly baffled that vegetarians don't eat fish because as far as eating goes it's a damn sight closer to overboiled carrot than a lump of cow, sheep or pig.
[I do realise how dreadfully Top Gear that sounds, and would like to apologise.
But I can't]

I have eaten and enjoyed fish on many occasions, but the times I haven't followed up with some sort of land-based product on the way home can be counted on the fingers of one fist.

Thirdly, it's hideously expensive. I freely admit this is my own fault in that anything involving less than a pound of meat counts as mere scooby-snack. So while A Fish is relatively inexpensive, try getting half-a-kilo of flesh off the bugger and see how your wallet feels.

And before you get all Hugh F-W on me, yes food should be expensive. I do pay £15+ for a chicken and eye-watering amounts for pork that's so bloody worth it you won't believe until you try. But the £/satisfaction ratio for fish is extremely poor (see above). Texture of soggy Spam at the price of muscles will never rate well on my spreadsheet.

Finally and fundamentally, it's hard to get. We have an outstanding butcher in Walter Rose and veg is largely organic from Riverford, or from a small local greengrocer. But for fishy we're basically reliant on stupidmarkets, which nobody wants. Walter Rose do in fact supply fish but since they (quite rightly) won't have it thrown away or sitting in freezers, you need to order it in advance. I'm just not that organised.

Never mind everything else, give me a proper local fishmonger and I'll be in there every week spending inadvisable amounts and building my cookery skills enormously. But there isn't one and I can't and THAT is the trouble with fish.

All the above notwithstanding, I have much-loved cookbooks where I've done pretty much all the meat but no fish (Tom Kerridge, Uyen Luu and Thommi Miers/Wahaca to name but some) hence I'm feeling the need to go off-pais. So expect fish in future but don't be surprised if I bitch about it.

There are no images (c) PP Gettins because, well, read the damn thing


  1. I'm going to suggest prawns instead of plainer white fish varieties, they have a texture akin to meat. Expensive but so very worth it!

    1. Gah! So sorry for the tardy reply - we had a glitch with the email notification thingy (I broke it).

      Prawns are indeed very fine. Mrs R does splendid asian-style prawn & tuna skewers that are a staple starter when we have friends round. Maybe we should try that with a noodle salad as a proper meal.

      But as you say, it gets pricey. Perhaps if we had an ounce of self-control it'd be ok. But we don't.

      On honeymoon in Seville we discovered fresh langoustines simply cooked in salt water, with a bottle of Manzanilla sherry in a fine tapas bar (El Toboso my friends - top of Murillo gardens). On our 10th anniversary we went back and got a bit carried away. £100 later ...