Hello ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for taking the time to read my latest blog.
If you have read my blogs before, you will know that flat fish plays a very big part in my passion for fish and what I do. I love having them on my counter as they are aesthetically pleasing and lend themselves to helping me or any other colleague in setting up an eye catching display.
They are also a joy to use in helping to educate children (and adults) about different species of fish. They are fascinated how one fish can have 2 different sides to them, how it can swim and how their eyes move.
They are also a professional challenge. In previous blogs I have stated that they are a nemesis, it’s hard to explain to someone who isn’t a fishmonger just how you feel when a customer asks you to fillet a Whole Plaice or Lemon Sole and you achieve a good yield and an almost see through skeleton of the fish.
It is also a very good idea to have some knowledge of the species aswell. That can be said of any fish, for instance I sell Wild Pacific Salmon and farmed Atlantic Salmon, so sometimes customers ask for the difference. The same can be said of flat fish. Sometimes customers will ask for the “white sided fillet of Plaice.” If they’re a regular I ask if they want to try a dark sided fillet. The dark side of a flat fish will generally have more flesh on it. The colour of the fillets make no matter to the taste and sometimes it surprises customers.
There are a few differences between Plaice and Lemon Sole.
PLAICE (Pleuronectes platessa)
Plaice is brown coloured with orange or red spots on it. The underside of the fish is white with their eyes on the right side. They have scales but they’re small and embedded in the skin and can grow up to 3 feet in length.
LEMON SOLE (Microstomus Kitt)
They have a smooth slimy skin which are a rich yellow to brown marbled skin, and white on the underside. They can grow up to 18 inches in length. I do get asked if they have a subtle lemon taste to it due to the name, but it is a misnomer. Some believe that the name is derived from a French word for “slit” for its mouth.
Also flat fish is easy to cook. Customers, in general, have a certain amount of fear when wanting to cook fish. They don’t want to over cook it, under cook it, not sure what to put with the fish, they don’t want to over power the taste of the fish etc. So, here are 2 recipes for flat fish.
To feed 4 people.
4 large Plaice fillets
3tbsp of olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 leeks, washed, trimmed and shredded
1 lemon, plus wedges to serve.
1. Preheat the grill to high. Lay the Plaice fillets, skin side down, on an oiled baking sheet, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with tbsp of the oil. Grill the fish for 2-3 mins, with no need to turn the fish over.
2. Make the vinaigrette
While the Plaice is grilling, heat the remaining oil in a small frying pan. Add the garlic and leeks and fry over a gentle heat until soft and golden. Squeeze in the juice from the Lemon, then take the pan off the heat. Remove the fish from under the grill and arrange on plates. Top the fish with the garlic and leeks. Heat the vinaigrette for a further minute until piping hot, then pour it over the fish and finish with black pepper. Serve with lemon wedges and boiled new potatoes.
LEMON SOLE WITH SORREL SAUCE
2 Lemon Sole fillets, with the skin attached.
2 knobs of butter
125 ml white wine
2tbsp creme fraiche
1 bunch of sorrel, washed and shredded
1. Heat the oven to 200c/180c/gas mark 6. Lay fish, skin side down in an oven proof dish. Season, dot with butter and pour over with the wine. Place the fish in the oven for 10mins until just cooked, then place on a warm plate.
2. Working quickly, pour the juices from the dish into a small saucepan with the creme fraiche, boil until slightly thickened, then stir through the sorrel until just wittled down. Spoon over the fish before serving with buttered new potatoes.
Cooking fish takes minutes and can be as easy or as flamboyant as you want to do it.
The flat fish I have to display and sell from my counter is supplied by Flatfish Ltd based in Grimsby. The company was founded in 1979 by Steven Stansfield and his father Bob operating on the old Grimsby Fish Pontoon and has gone from strength to strength. The company is involved in all aspects of the fishing industry including collaborating with skippers. They work hard with regards to food fraud, so the consumer knows that what they have on their plate or in their restaurants is what they say it is.
They work continually with MSC, building a sustainable supply chain which benefits everyone from the skippers to the consumer and ensure that the fish stock levels are sustainable and quality is high.
The team at Flatfish also work constantly with food safety, health and safety and, a topic which many might be surprised at in this day and age, anti slavery and human trafficking laws.
All their hard work from their site in Grimsby and all over the UK in fishing ports, and in Norway with Sterling Halibut, meant that last year they were awarded with Fish Processor Of The Year 2016 at the Fishing News Awards.
This year they could bring home the award yet again, and I for one believe that the award is truly deserved.
I am privileged to be friends with Mr Steven, Richard and Reece Stansfield along with their head of Technical Anton Dietschel-Buehler and have visited the factory 3 times. Each time you see the passion and enthusiasm and the constant striving for the best, not just for themselves and the Flatfish Ltd name but also for their skippers and customers.
I will be attempting The Flat Fish Challenge again this year at The British Fish Craft Championships, this year I might even complete it before the time runs out!
Until next time
For more information visit flatfish-ltd.co.uk
And for more recipes search bbc food online