Embracing a movement is never innocent but when at Pebble Soup HQ we said "yes" to become a fish fanatic, I really thought that it would only be a matter of trying out new fish recipes.
Instead, 6 months on, I am spending my spare time reading government reports on the complexity of the fish industry, getting "madder and madder" at the dithering, while tonnes of fish is being thrown overboard.
Let's make not mistake here. The industry and the government may be slow but we, consumers, are very responsible for all the appalling discard. In a nutshell: at the moment, fishermen are only allowed to catch a certain amount of the species we favour, like cod and haddock. But in the nets are other species for which the demand is low- so what happens? what we eat gets cherry-picked, taken to the market, all the rest is throw back, chucked overboard, back half-dead in the sea .dot.
So while "they" are making progress, the best we can do is create a demand for sustainable fish. Cod is not the only fish.
Take the gurnard, never heard of it, no wonder- there is hardly any market for it therefore it's labelled "by-product" and most of it or thereabout is thrown overboard- OK it is ugly but so is crab.
It comes in three colours (varieties), red, grey & yellow, red is the tastiest. It lives at the bottom of the sea and is also called "Sea-Robin". It should get top marks for provenance. It is found off the coast of Devon, Cornwall, Scotland.
Heads and fins are traditionnally used in fish-stews such as bouillabaisse. It's difficult to fillet but that is not a problem as you are not going to find it in a supermarket, so the local fishmonger will fillet it for you.
The flesh is firm and flaky but rather bland it will need flavouring which can be done easily. Think of a river fish, cobbler for example, it's that kind of taste.
My Tipsy Gurnard
Cooking time: under 10 minutes.
allow two fillets per person.
3 tsp aniseed, or fennel seeds (or which ever licorice-like taste herb or spice you have on your rack)
1 red onion, sliced
salt and pepper,
for the liquid, I used a tablespoon of Pastis in a little water to add extra anis flavour but 100ml of white wine will do or plain olive oil but then it won't get tipsy
a few bay leaves
Thyme can be added
Put everything in a shallow plate and leave the fish to marinade for 1 hour
Throw a little butter in a pan, wait until it's very hot but don't let it blacken
Slide the fillets in the pan, skin side first
Cook for 3 minutes, turn over, add salt and pepper, lower the heat and allow to cook for another 3 minutes.
Serve with crushed potatoes and melted onions.