Sunday 10 June 2012

On Cooking Fish

We have a new fishmonger up the 'wood. They're very good. The first time I went in, I was dizzied by the sheer variety of fish on offer; I love fish but almost never eat it as Mr Z does not like fish that is not fresh (and by that he means, still kicking) and also because, well, I don't really know much about cooking it. The conversation went thus:

Fishmonger: Hello madam! And what can I get you?
Me: Er...some fish.
Fishmonger: Sorry, we don't have any fish.

Funny. They are a nice sort. The head fishmonger keeps a bag of lollies to hand out to children that go in with their parents; I love this because firstly, it is quite olde-worlde-local-shoppy, and secondly, he is being extremely clever, because the shop naturally hums of fish and by giving the little ones lollies he is creating a pleasant association with that smell. I don't know whether he's though of it like that.

It has been my mission, therefore, to try a new fish every week. I have been having snapper and hake for lunches (hake is the winner), and I have tried sea bass, which Mr Z cooks extremely well; monkfish, a la Delia; sprats, which led to some extremely amusing angst on my part ("They're so small, I can't eat them! I feel awful! But if I don't eat them, THEY'LL HAVE DIED FOR NOTHING!"); fish kebabs for the barbecue, which were a win, and calamari, which were not; and last weekend, some whiting.

The fishmonger is very helpful and will do almost anything you want with the fish before bagging it up. Here he had descaled and cleaned the whiting, and cut it into largish chunks for me. He recommended tossing in egg and then flour before shallow frying.
His advice seemed good. I was a bit worried I might undercook it so I left it in the pan for 10 or 15 minutes in the end.
I served it with a spectacular pasta salad made with leftover cooked pasta and leftover guacamole. It was all very delicious. I liked the whiting a lot.

I have since bought Mitch Tonks' fish recipe book and am looking forward to getting stuck in. Mitch Tonks owns Rockfish in Bristol, where I had one of the best restaurant meals ever, so I have high hopes for the contents of his book.

My only issue with the fishmonger is that he keeps live lobsters, sitting on the ice. It makes me very sad. Yesterday the biggest one appeared to be trying to pinch his own nose with the smaller of his graspers (the big ones were obviously rubber banded up), perhaps in an effort to commit suicide. I can understand it a little better if they're in a tank, but it seems so cruel to have them lying on the ice like that, and they really don't look happy. Perhaps I am wrong and they don't mind it, but it is a struggle not to buy them and then pop down to the Weston and release them.

I do have a bit of a soft spot for lobsters and crabs, though. Knitted versions of both are in my Ravelry queue.

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