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The Caterer

Tutored tasting – Fish

23 November 2012
Tutored tasting – Fish

Fish on the menu is an absolute must, but with so many species available, deciding which to go for and what to do with it can be daunting.

We sought the expert advice of Billingsgate Seafood School to learn about different species and receive expert tuition on how to prepare and cook them.

CJ Jackson, principal of the school, says: "Seafood on the menu doesn't have to be tricky. The beauty of fish is that the simpler the recipe, the better it tastes.

"There are also many myths surrounding the sustainability of seafood. There is no harm in farmed fish, as long as it is farmed responsibly, and there are many varieties available that serve to replace those species that are in decline.

"The team of experts at Billingsgate Seafood School aim to educate both consumers and professionals on the vast array of sustainable seafood available through Billingsgate Fish Market, and preparation techniques."

Here, Jackson guides us through a selection of fish.

!](https://cdn.filestackcontent.com/GzoPLNo7QymsRgakBt3v)GurnardProperties A firm and meaty textured fish with a good flavour. Notes An underused species that is a good alternative to more popular varieties.
![](https://cdn.filestackcontent.com/P6tUb3OcTHOQRPaGUfvn)WitchProperties Flat white fish with a sweet, delicate texture. Notes It is a good alternative to lemon sole; less expensive, but sweeter than plaice.
![](https://cdn.filestackcontent.com/vzrPq5w9QHaT1j0u7Q90)Rainbow Trout (farmed)PropertiesNotes Challenging to fillet, as the bones are soft.
![](https://cdn.filestackcontent.com/2LbKtepeQR6mpCqnJdeO)CuttlefishProperties Similar to squid in texture, but with a more intensely sweet flavour. Good quality cuttle has a lovely pearlescent appearance, but if it is turning pink, it has lost condition. Notes Underused species of cephalopod, which can be bought prepared or whole. When whole it has an ink sac containing black viscous ink.
![](https://cdn.filestackcontent.com/lf0PmenRBWD8ceFarJOX)Tilapia (farmed)Properties A white textured fish, which can cook up to a firm texture. Notes Extensively farmed around the globe and in the UK.
What the chefs saidCJ Jackson principal, Billingsgate Seafood School and cookery writer ![James Wellock](https://cdn.filestackcontent.com/HABbGUCQaC8hkWMQOok8)We use cuttle in the school on a regular basis. It promotes an under-used species and is great to offer in place of squid to our course attendees. It's versatile and is great for both quick and slow methods of cooking. We pan-fry cuttle steaks (taken from the head) or finely sliced in a stir-fry. We also braise the tentacles in Rioja, garlic, red onions, balsamic vinegar and rosemary: rich, dark and fantastic with root mash and aÁ¯oli spooned over the top. We like to work with farmed fish, and we are often asked to come up with recipes that use trout. It has an earthiness that makes it a natural partner with citrus flavours and capers, olives, etc - anything with a robust flavour. We trim tilapia, scale and fillet it. Simply pan-fried with chilli, ginger and soy works well and makes the most of the firm texture and adds the flavour it needs. It can be cooked on the bone, but the bones are dense, so take care not to undercook it. We cook witch on the bone. We pocket the fish and fill it with tomatoes, basil, pine nuts and Parmesan to bake. We prepare gurnard and roast it on the bone with chorizo or pancetta. It has lots of fine bones that are hard to remove with tweezers, but they are much easier to locate once cooked. Allan Pickett head chef, Plateau (D&D), Canary Wharf, London ![James Wellock](https://cdn.filestackcontent.com/hMD4Khs2QgWNQINuYXYD)At Plateau we braise cuttle in a water bath with olive oil, garlic and a small sprig of thyme. To finish, we warm it in garlic butter and use it to top our risotto. It's great for flash-frying too. With trout we buy the largest fish we can get, fillet it, then pan-fry it. It lends itself really well to rillettes. We poach the flesh, break it up into flakes and mix it with crème fraÁ®che, horseradish, mayo, etc - but we have to make it fresh every day as it is never the same on a second day. Tilapia cooked whole would work well with spice. Score the skin first and then use an Oriental five-spice or an Indian tandoori dry marinade for two hours - cook and serve with plain steamed rice. I would also consider it as a special, baked in salt, similar to bass or bream. I've never had witch before, but it has a subtle flavour, nothing overpowering. It would take lots of different flavours including some of the classics: beurre noisette and beurre noir, but also shrimp and winkles. Contacts Billlingsgate Seafood School 020 7517 3548 [www.seafoodtraining.org
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