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  • fishing chesilbeach sunset

    Sea fishing and cooking are my two passions in life. Share my experiences of catching fish around the south coast of the UK and cooking them to share with my friends and family over the dinner table. The Spanish style of cooking with olives and peppers is my favourite and suits fish so well. With the finished dish served in the centre of the table, everyone digs in. The French say “you eat with your eyes”, the colours and the presentation of Spanish family cooking fits this perfectly. I Catch It Basically, if I’m near the sea I want to go fishing. 20 years ago I had a sudden onset of chronic sea sickness so had to stop boat fishing. After corrective surgery last year the sea sickness disappeared so I am back boat fishing and enjoying every minute. So I go fishing: From a boat … Or From a pier … And on the beach … When On holiday … Canary Islands It’s a good job my poor long-suffering wife of over 40 years doesn’t mind my passion for fishing. Sometimes, annoyingly, if she tags along she catches more than me! Both of my sons fish, my grandsons fish, even our 4 year old twin granddaughters go fishing with me. Not Caught It Yet! Even after all these years fishing there are some UK species that elude me: Thornback Ray Bullhuss These two are my target species for 2021. Then I Cook It Having caught it, or sometimes bought it now we have to prepare and cook it. Fresh fish is so nice to eat and very healthy, especially the oily fish like mackerel or herring. Currently trendy and very popular, sushi has exploded onto the UK eating scene. The nearest I get to sushi is smoked salmon. Some fish are very delicate like plaice, others are more robust like turbot and different cooking techniques are required to bring out the best in each. I will bake, fry, steam, casserole, marinade or roast fish depending on what I catch that day. I am always on the lookout for new and interesting recipes but am heavily influenced by the Spanish style of cooking. Spanish style baked fish My Catch It and Cook It Stories … CassouletPapas arrugadas

  • common whelks

    Many of us have fond memories of visiting the seaside and buying some seafood from a stall. You then douse it in white pepper and vinegar and enjoy the taste of freshly caught and cooked shellfish. You taste prawns, mussels, cockles, winkles and for the brave souls among us whelks. You catch whelks using baited traps called pots on the sea bed. Experienced fishermen say that whelks are attracted to a bait mixture of fish and dead crabs. Whelk pot Since 2017 there are strict rules in place governing pot design and landing sizes. A minimum shell size of 53mm is mandatory around the Kent and Essex coasts since 2020. The trouble with whelks is that you have to really like them as it can take a good few minutes to chew them. In my past experience, they are rubbery and fairly tasteless. Plate of Cockles and Whelks Whelks used to be a very common foodstuff for the poor in some parts of Victorian London. They were cheap and nutritious. In more recent times they have fallen out of fashion, but we still land about 10,000 tonnes of them a year in the UK, of which 95% go for export to the far east. Whelks Being Landed In South Korea, they are a regular foodstuff, even sold as an aphrodisiac. Although to be fair their dishes do seem to contain a fair bit of fresh chilli, root ginger and soy sauce to enhance the flavour. So next time you visit the seashore, find some rocks, search them out, and give this stir-fry a go. You will never look at a whelk the same way again. Stir Fried Whelks Whelks in an oriental stir fry with crispy noodles. 500 g Whelks (fresh if available)2 tbsp Rape seed oil250 g Bamboo shoots (thinly sliced)2 cloves Garlic (sliced)1 Red chilli (sliced)5 cm Cooking chorizo (chopped)1 tbsp Ginger (grated)2 tbsp Soy sauce1 tbsp Oyster sauce1 tbsp Sesame oil1 bunch Spring onions (sliced)½ bunch Coriander (chopped)Thin egg noodles3 tbsp Peanut oil To cook fresh whelksTenderise the whelks by placing them in a freezer at least overnight.Place the whelks in a pan of cold water and bring it up to a gentle simmer, do not let it boil or they will become tough and rubbery. Simmer for 15 minutes and then remove from the heat and allow the whelks to cool in the cooking water.Once cooked, pull the whelk out of the shell, remove the little plastic-like disc on the foot end, remove the stomach sack and a small bit of muscle (identifiable by its feeling tougher than the rest of the whelk) and they are done.For the stir fryThinly slice the whelks. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan over high heat, add the sliced whelks and bamboo shoots and stir fry for about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the wok and set aside.Return the wok to the heat and add the garlic, chilli, chorizo and ginger. Stir fry for a further 2-3 minutes, then add the soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil.Return the whelks and bamboo shoots to the wok and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes, or until the liquid in the wok has thickened and coats the whelks. Add most of the spring onions and coriander, tossing well to mix through. Set aside.Blanch the noodles in a large pan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes, or until just tender. Drain well and set aside.Heat a large frying pan over a high heat and add 1½ tbsp's of the peanut oil. Evenly spread the drained noodles over the base of the pan,then turn the heat to low and allow the noodles to gently fry for 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp on the bottom.Gently flip the noodles over, adding another 1½ tbsp's of the oil to the pan. Cook for a further 3-4 minutes, or until the noodles are golden brown and crisp all over. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen roll.To servePlace the noodles in the middle of a warm plate and spoon the whelks and bamboo shoots on top. Garnish with the reserved spring onions and coriander. Based on a recipe by Mark Sargeant. Main CourseBritish, Korean

  • spider crab

    Catch It As a rod and line angler the majority of crabs I catch from the shore are spider crabs. Found in huge numbers just offshore during April to June when they migrate. When I say catch, I mean they are entangled in the trace. Beach anglers frequently wind in only to find the hooks are missing from their rig, a sure sign of spider crabs. Mainly exported to Europe, UK consumers don’t seem to like this spiny invader prefering to eat our native brown crab. Cromer Brown Crab The best known of the brown crab around the UK is probably from Cromer in Norfolk. Cromer crab is fragrant and tender with a high proportion of white to brown meat. Cornish brown crab How to Cook and Dress a Crab Having caught one, foraged for one, or even bought a live one it’s time to cook and dress it. How to Dress a Crab Preparing a cooked crab for the table If you’re cooking a live crab, first bring a large pot of well-salted water to the boil. (If using a ready-cooked fresh crab, proceed to the next step.) Add the crab to the pan and boil for 20-30 minutes. Remove from the water and stand on its nose to allow the water to drain away as the crab cools.To prepare the cooked, cooled crab, first remove the legs by twisting them off where they meet the body.Remove the claws by pulling them off from the body.Separate the crab body from the central part of the crab by placing the crab on its back (hard shell-side down). Put your hands under the edge of the crab and push upwards until you hear it break. You may need to use a heavy knife to help you lever the crab apart.Remove all ten of the spongy ‘dead men’s fingers’ and discard.Drain any excess water from the shell of the crab and remove the stomach sac and hard membranes inside the shell.Use a spoon to remove the brown meat from the shell and any soft shell that has formed. Place it into a clean bowl and mash with a fork.Press down on the edges of the crab shell, breaking away the outer edges to form a ‘dish’ for serving.Break each claw in half. Use the handle of a teaspoon to scrape the white meat out of the thick end of the claw. Place into a separate clean bowl.Use the back of a heavy-bladed knife to crack open the remaining piece of claw and the pincers. Remove all the white meat and flake into the bowl. Remove the piece of cartilage inside each of the claws, pick off the meat and discard the cartilage.To remove the meat from the body of the crab, take a sharp knife and cut the crab body in half then in half again. Pick out the meat using your fingers.If the legs are large enough, it’s worth picking the meat out of them. Snap them in half and discard the thin end of the leg. Using the back of a heavy-bladed knife, smash the shell on the thicker part of the leg. Pull the meat out and add to your bowl.Run your fingers through the white meat in the bowl to break up the meat and to pick out any remaining bits of shell.Return the prepared white and brown meat to separate halves of the prepared crab shell. Top Tip: Get someone else to do the picking out of the crab meat, it can be a long job! Dressed crab Now you have your cooked spider or brown crab its time to sit down and enjoy its delicate flavour. Plain crab is delicious simply served with lemon, mayonnaise and brown bread. However, I like to serve crab au gratin or with Thermidor sauce. Catch It and Cook It – MackerelFolkestone and WinklesNanny’s Bread PuddingCatch It and Cook It Here are a couple of recipes for both brown and spider crab showing both styles of cooking. Recipe – Brown Crab Thermidor Thermidor sauce always sounds very posh, and for restaurant food, posh equals expensive. It’s odd how dishes or cooking styles with a French name command a higher price. For example, cheese on toast becomes pain au gratin and the price triples! Often served with a French style Thermidor sauce. This version is simple and quick. Brown Crab Thermidor 200 g white crab meat100 g brown crab meat 50 g pecorino cheese 50g50 g mayonnaise1 egg yolk1 bunch chives50 ml double cream2 tbsp Calvados1/2 tbsp Wholegrain Mustard1 apple (cut into fine shreds)1 handful basilTo serveCrusty bread Heat the grill. Mix the brown crab with the cheese, mayo, egg yolk, chives, cream, calvados and mustard.Carefully fold the white crab meat into the mixture and season well.Divide the mix between 4 individual, wide, shallow heat-proof dishes and put them under the grill until golden brown and bubbling.Serve with finely chopped apple and basil and serve with crusty bread. Main CourseBritish Recipe – Spider Crab Gratin Spider Crab Gratin The sweetness of the spider crab meat with a cheesy nutty topping make this an impressive dish 4 spider crab (cooked and cooled)8 tbsp olive oil2 leeks (sliced)4 shallots (finely chopped)3 celery sticks (finely chopped)3 tbsp tomato purée3 tsp fresh ginger (chopped)4 tsp Dijon mustard100 ml white wine1 splash brandy1 dash hot sauce4 lemons (zest only)4 tbsp fresh basil (chopped)100 g almonds (toasted and roughly chopped)100 g gruyère cheese100 g parmesan cheese Pick the meat from the crab, including that from the legs, and place into a bowl. Clean the shell of the body and set aside.Preheat the grill to high.Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat. Add the leek, shallot and celery and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until softened but not coloured.Add the picked crabmeat, tomato purée, ginger and mustard to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the mixture from catching.Add the white wine and brandy and simmer for a few

  • squid caught rod and line

    Catch It Rod and line fishing for squid (calamari) and cuttlefish has become popular in the UK over the past few years. Specialised fishing techniques using custom lures known as jigs. These have two circular rows of crown hooks that entangle the tentacles. Various locations along the UK south coast such as Weymouth have become known hotspots for squidding in the autumn. Jig caught squid Prepare the Squid Cleaning can be a messy business because of the ink. The whole method is here. Cook It Cooked just right, it is beautifully tender. Overcooked it is tough and rubbery. I first ate calamari regularly on the Algarve in the 1980s. I remember sitting on the beach after dark watching the lights of the fishing boats out at sea. They shine lights to attract them up to the surface from deeper water to feed. Night fishing for squid All along the seafront restaurants would serve the freshest fish and shellfish caught locally the night before. It was superb compared to the “fresh” fish we were used to at home, which had been stored on ice for days. Even the Chinese restaurants had lots of fish on offer, including calamari curry which was actually pretty good. Catch It and Cook It – CuttlefishMorcilla Stuffed Baby Squid (Calamares Rellenos con Morcilla)Squid and Black Pudding with PeppersCatch It and Cook ItMorcilla: The Spanish Black Pudding I like it cooked and served simply like the featured recipe. Recipe – Grilled Squid Grilled Squid (Calamari) 1 pound squid (cleaned)1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice1/4 teaspoon salt1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper1 tablespoon fresh parsley (chopped)Lemon wedges Heat a grill to high heat. Rinse the squid under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.Cut the squid bodies lengthwise down one side and open flat.Cut the tentacles in half if too large.In a bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.Add the squid bodies and tentacles to the bowl, tossing to evenly coat.Thread the squid bodies lengthwise onto skewers so they lie flat.Thread the tentacles onto separate skewers.Grill over high heat, turning once, just until opaque throughout, about 1 to 2 minutes.Remove the squid from skewers and pile them on a platter.Sprinkle with parsley and serve with lemon wedges. Main CourseAmerican

  • cuttlefish

    Catch It Rod and line fishing for squid and cuttlefish has become popular in the UK over the past few years. Specialised fishing techniques using custom lures known as squid jigs. These have two circular rows of crown hooks that entangle the tentacles. Various locations along the UK south coast such as Weymouth have become known hotspots for squidding in the autumn. Jig caught squid Chesil Beach Chesil beach frequently produces cuttlefish either by bouncing a jig along the bottom or by live baiting a joey mackerel or pin whiting. Jig caught cuttlefish I frequently get very good bites, winding in to find the bait fish still there, but with a large notch bitten out behind the head! On closer inspection you can see where the cuttlefishes tentacles have wrapped around the fish. How to Prepare Your Cuttlefish courtesy of “Due to the ink sack, preparing cuttlefish can be a messy affair, so empty your sink and wear an apron. Aside from potential mess, the preparation is actually very easy. Cut below the eyes to remove the tentacles and gently pull the head out along with the guts, taking care not to burst the ink sack. Reserve the ink sack – the ink is rich and seaweed-like in flavour and of course has that brilliant jet black colour, perfect for stirring through a seafood risotto or pasta dough. Rinse in cold water to wash away any sand or spilled ink. Pull out the beak and discard, and pull the outer membrane from the body (you may need to aid your grip with a tea towel). You’ll be left with a bright, brilliant white tube ready to slice into rings calamari-style” Cuttlefish has a very similar taste to squid but is not popular in the UK. Caught in quite large quantities off the south coast the majority is exported to Spain and Italy. I eat cuttlefish regularly when we visit our friends in Gran Canaria where ‘Sepia a la Plancha’ is served very simply, grilled with a sprinkle of lemon or lime juice. Sepia a la Plancha Catch It and Cook It – SquidChilli con CarneEdible Snails – Helix AspersaSquid and Black Pudding with PeppersMorcilla Stuffed Baby Squid (Calamares Rellenos con Morcilla) Recipe – Chargrilled Garlic and Chilli Cuttlefish My featured recipe marinates the fish with lemon, chilli and garlic. The acidic lemon juice partly cures and tenderises the flesh before cooking very quickly over high heat. Chargrilled Garlic and Chilli Cuttlefish 700 g cuttlefish (cleaned, sliced into 3cm pieces)80 ml 80ml extra virgin olive oilFinfinely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (plus extra wedges to serve)1 long red chilli (seeds removed, finely chopped)2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)2 tbs flat-leaf parsley (finely chopped)2 cups watercress sprigs Place cuttle fish slices in a bowl with olive oil, lemon zest, chilli and garlic. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours to marinate.When ready to cook, preheat barbecue or chargrill pan to high. Season cuttlefish with salt, then barbecue, turning, for 2 minutes or until lightly charred and just cooked through.Toss cuttlefish with lemon juice and parsley in a bowl, then transfer to a platter and top with watercress. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over. Main CourseAustralian