Britain’s endless coastline provides boaters with something very unique. On a whim you can set off from one of the country’s largest industrial ports and moor up just hours later at a remote fishing village, taking advantage of quaint views, friendly atmosphere and menus filled with unbeatable seafood. It is in these small unassuming towns that you will find the very best examples of freshly caught local produce cooked in the most simple, yet delicious ways.
Douglas Wright is one of the country’s leading seafood chefs and a firm believer in the less is more approach when it comes to preparing and enjoying some of the wealth of seafood that his local Scottish fishing waters provide. As Group Executive head Chef of the Loch Fyne Restaurants Douglas has free rein to explore and develop recipes, using the very freshest raw ingredients to create incredibly simple dishes that truly celebrate seafood at its best. Taking advantage of the infamous range of local Scottish seafood he has at his fingertips Douglas is currently leading the way in British seafood cuisine.
The very best of British
When creating seasonal recipes Douglas’ first focus is always on the availability of fish, identifying what there is expected to be a local abundance of, and then developing dishes around these. With the exception of tuna, Douglas sources all his fish from local sources, something he encourages everyone to do.
Many people misinterpret the idea of sustainable seafood as being that which has been reared in specifically designed farms, but Douglas explains that you can still enjoy freshly caught wild fish, you just need to know where to look for it. “Smaller day fishing boats is where people should focus their attention when they are looking to buy fresh fish. These are not going out for weeks on end, they’re normally only out for about 12 hours or so which means that the fish you are getting is absolutely fresh and has been caught in much smaller, environmentally-friendly batches.”
Bringing seafood aboard
Seafood is such a versatile ingredient that recipes can be effortlessly tweaked to perfectly suit every individual preference. By keeping cooking simple it is also very easy to incorporate whichever type of fish is locally available in abundance. This is one of the qualities of seafood that makes it ideal for on board entertaining.
“Seafood recipes are great to just make and share, especially those including shellfish or stews and soups. You can literally just throw in some garlic and cream, or crème fraiche if you want to be a bit healthier, and so long as you’ve got good produce to start with, that will be all you need to do.
Douglas advises; “The best fish recipes are the simplest ones. The best way to cook fish is to ensure you are getting the freshest produce and then you won’t need to do much with it. There is nothing better than taking something like a mackerel or herring, any traditional small caught fish, straight from the water and grilling it with some garlic and butter, which is just so simple and easy to do. Or you could just bake it in the oven with some fresh lemon juice and white wine to bring out the flavours, that’s what fish is all about.”
Simply put, Douglas’ key piece of advice when it comes to creating seafood dishes on board is to keep it simple. “All you need is the very best fish, sustainably caught, cooked simply and presented well.”
Mussels Mexican Style
Quick and easy to prepare this delicious recipe gives a unique kick to a seafood favourite, and is ideal dish for hassle free entertaining
1kg fresh mussels
1tbs cooking oil
20g jalapeno peppers
Dash of tequila
Half a red pepper
Half an onion
4 tablespoons water
Juice of one lime
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a pan that will be big enough to cook the mussels too. Add the finely chopped onion and red pepper and cook on a medium heat for around five minutes.
Gently stir in the water and tequila. Squeeze in the limejuice and add the jalapenos peppers and some freshly ground black pepper.
Reheat the mixture until it begins to simmer, then add the mussels, sprinkling with half the coriander. Cover the pan and steam for 3-4 minutes.
Serve in a bowl with the juice, and a fresh sprinkling of coriander.
Smoked Fish Pie
Rich and warming this is the perfect meal to snuggle up with on a chilly evening after a long day on the water
250g smoked haddock
250g bradon rost (available from the Loch Fyne website and some supermarkets)
500ml fish stock
500ml white wine
50g salted butter
1 small clove of garlic
Small handful of dill
120g grated cheddar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Remove the skin from the fish, and then cut the haddock and bradon rost into 2 inch squares and sprinkle with finely chopped fresh dill and set to one side.
Chop the fennel, onion and celery into small cubes and sweat off in a pan with the butter and finely chopped garlic. After roughly one minute deglaze these with the white wine and leave on the heat to reduce down.
Add in the flour and mix well. Gradually pour in the fish stock, mixing continuously. Once combined, cook over a low heat for ten minutes, seasoning lightly with some salt and freshly ground pepper. Bear in mind that the smoked fish will add salt later.
Once slightly cooled, add the smoked fish and dill.
Peel and chop the potatoes before bringing them to the boil in lightly salted water. Cook until soft, then drain the water and add butter, milk and light seasoning before mashing until smooth.
Spoon the fish filling mixture into the dish and top with the creamy mashed potato. Finally sprinkle with grated cheese and breadcrumbs to create a crust.
Heat the fish pie in the oven for 15 minutes on 160 degrees and serve immediately.
Spiced Crab and Mussel Soup
A contemporary twist on a traditional soup recipe, this will fast become a family favourite for a light lunch or a hearty starter.
700g whole cooked crab
200ml white wine
50g plain flour
1tbsp tomato puree
1tsp curry powder
Pinch of saffron
1tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt
Pinch of star anise
1.2 litres of fish stock
1 large onion
Half a small clove of garlic
160g vine tomatoes
Heat the mussels and white wine in a large pan. Steam until the mussels are open, discarding any that do not open automatically. Strain off the liquor and keep to one side. Then remove the mussels from their shells.
Pick the white meat from the crab claws and scrape the brown meat from the shells. Check the crabs have a sweet smell and that the shells are not sticky.
Sweat off the roughly chopped leeks, onions and garlic with some oil in a large thick-bottomed pan until soft. Add the empty crab shells and cook quickly until lightly coloured.
Roughly chop the tomatoes and add to mixture with the tomato puree. Continue to cook for another two minutes.
Add the flour, curry powder, seasoning and star anise, mixing well. Deglaze with the mussel stock and continue to mix until the flour disappears.
Add the fish stock and bring to a simmer, cooking gently for 45 minutes.
Remove the crab shells from the pan, and add the crabmeat, cooked mussels and saffron.
Bring the pan back to a simmer and cook for a further 15 minutes. Remove from heat and then blend the mixture until smooth.
Check the seasoning and then serve immediately. This can also be cooled and refrigerated and then reheated as required.