I was recently invited by The fish is the Dish team to a Seafood Masterclass at Billingsgate Seafood School where we learnt to prepare some super seafood dishes. It was a good reminder to add more fish to my diet as I try to shed the pounds I’ve gained over the last 2 years!  The recipes we cooked at Billingsgate Seafood School centred around the fact that, besides fresh fish, there are so many types of inexpensive seafood you can add to your diet, such as:

  • canned fish
  • frozen fish
  • squid
  • mussels
  • and even seaweed!

to help your each #my2aweek

Doesnt the middle seaweed look like tagliatelle? I can just see it appearing on the menu of some restaurant!

In fact, CJ who heads up Billingsgate Seafood School said that when she tested the fish at the supermarket, the frozen fish- which is very affordable- was far and away the freshest! (The key is not to overcook it.) I was really surprised, but then I reminded the last time I cooked frozen fish in hotpot for a friend who came over- she’s quite the foodie but was raving over how awesome the fish was. I was really dubious as I’d seen the frozen fish as “inferior” and had only stocked it for emergencies (such as the last minute dinner with said friend!)

Why 2 a week? (Note 1 of the 2 should be an oil-rich seafood such as anchovies, mackerel, trout or sardines- all of which are readily available tinned.)

  1. Seafood is rich in Omega 3, which keeps our brains, eyes and hearts healthy- a fact which newspapers and magazines are always shouting at us. But did you know out bodies can’t produce omega 3 naturally? (I didn’t!)
  2. It’s a healthy way to keep to a healthy weight!! (For the rest of Decemeber, I’m sticking to #my2aweek – I’ll report back with the weight loss results in Jan 🙂 )

We took a quick poll at the class, and I was slightly shamefaced to own up to not having had any seafood that week, a fact which was quickly remedied as we got to cook and eat so many delicious seafood dishes 🙂 (Quick- what’s your 2 a week? No cheating!)

OK enough of facts, here’s what we cooked! We were split into teams of 2, each responsible for a dish. My favourite was the grilled mackerel- which was soooo delicious and so easy to prepare. You just season with salt and pepper then grill! It was served quite fancily, on some salad, but even just eating the mackerel on its own tasted amazing. To be honest, I don’t remember what the salad tastes like, I just remember the mackerel- that’s how good it was! (Sadly, this dish was not prepared by me :P) I don’t have a grill at home and, if like me, you don’t, you can try panfrying it this way:

  1. Season the mackerel with salt and pepper (after removing any pin bones)
  2. Heat olive oil in a pan then add the fillets skin side down for 3 minutes. Turn and cook for another minute (or till cooked through)
  3. Put on your apron and eat!

Together with Becky from Gills, I prepared a Merchants Fish Stew and Coley & Mussel Chowder, both of which used a home-made fish stock as a base. Here are some tips which CJ shared with us on how to make a good fish stock! Unfortunately, I choose too small a pot, so my soup took so long to make that by the time I finished, everyone had left and nobody tried it!!! But if you’ve ever wondered why your liquids are taking so much longer to reduce than the recipe indicates, one thing to check would be the width of your pan!

First time I’d cooked mussels! I’d always been afraid of giving myself food poisoning – I’ve never even dared try the “ready to cook” sets that they sell in the supermarkets- but it was easy! Apparently the waters in the UK are super clean which is good for growing mussels- rope grown mussels are also super sustainable and good for the environment! Just check none of the mussels are dead before you cook- give them a tap and see if they open, ditch the ones that don’t open! And after cooking, they have to be opened with the mussel nestled on one side – if not don’t eat it!!!!
For more tips on cooking seafood (and recipes!), drop by the websites of The Fish is the Dish and Billingsgate Seafood School– they run amazing courses as well as a tour of the market teaching you how to make sure your fish is fresh! If, like me, you’re iffy about cooking shellfish at home, Billingsgate has a whole day workshop to bring you up to scratch! Personally I’d love to try it! 🙂 (Just imagine how much money you can save :P)