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Recognizing the freshest seafood & storing it

When buying seafood in a market or a supermarket and looking through a glass or a plastic package to see if it is good, there’s a risk you take every time. The seafood and fish in general is a product that needs to be examined by you specifically if you are in need of freshness. You must get a closer look, smell it and even touch it if you do want to select the perfect product for your seafood dish, and also do not forget to store it and keep the fish safe at home. In that way, seafood will remain in good quality. Here are our few tips on how to recognize the fresh & good fish for use and how to store it.

How to recognize the freshest seafood

Fresh seafood is usually recognized by the smell and when you try it at first, you might perceive the smell of the sea. With just a simple scent you can imagine yourself being near the waters and enjoying the great breeze going past your shoulders. This is what the fish have to remind you of. If you think the fish smells badly, do not take a risk and buy it because the smell is not going to change and get better with cooking. 

If you are having a big dinner and you have decided to buy a whole fish, the first thing you can check is if the fish’s eyes are clear and bright. Also, the skin must be glossy and watery with no bad blemish on it. However, if the eyes are hazy and dark, it might still be good to cook but it is possibly not that fresh and it was held for some time on the counter.

For the shellfish, check if the shells of the fish are firmly shut. To find out, try to touch and move one of the shells, if it immediately closes it is in good quality to buy. Of course, you cannot check every shellfish and make sure it is still alive, but you will have a few dead ones in your store cart. Important: if the shell is not still opening after cooking, throw it out as it is a sign that the shellfish is dead.

Tips on how to store the seafood

After you bought the freshest seafood and brought it back home, do not forget to put it straight to the freezer if you are not using it at that moment. It is even recommended to get a cooler bag when you are going to the market. In that way, you can make sure the fish is isolated at cool temperature.

Buy the fresh seafood only if you are planning to consume it the same day or the day after. It is not a good idea to freeze the fresh seafood and use it when you decide weeks after, it loses its freshness and tastiness. 

To perfectly defrost the frozen seafood, you must keep it during the night in the refrigerator. After that, you must prepare and cook it the same day it defrosts. If you are short on time, put the frozen fish in the bowl of cool water and keep it at the minimal room temperature.

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Popular Seafood Restaurants in the UK, Part 1

In the United Kingdom there is a long over 21,000 miles coastline where you can stop by and enjoy the freshest seafood in the country. If you want to try out the different types and species of seafood, have an outstanding meal and especially enjoy the view, you must keep your eyes opened when driving throughout the coasts. Every season of the year you can see active fishermen cruising in their boats with their fishing equipment catching fishes to present them in an early fresh market or providing them to the top-notch restaurants in the area. To have the best experience while eating seafood, you can check the menus if their options vary every day, that means the dishes are organized daily and are fresh. Here are our most favored seafood restaurants in the UK.

Rocksalt, Folkestone

The place and its views are another great addition to the restaurant despite having fantastic seafood dishes served for your taste. While you are sitting there with a drink in your hand and waiting for your food, you can enjoy the cool breeze wind going past your face and watch the sea life right in front of you. Restaurant itself is located on the Folkstone’s harbor corner and is delivering fresh fish to their kitchen straight from the sea nearby. The fishing boats always start in the early morning and meander around the sea to bring you the tasty goods. Also, restaurant’s executive chef Mark Sargeant has an impressive work experience – he worked with the world’s famous chef Gordon Ramsay for over 12 years!

The Salt Room, Brighton

This present-day stylish seafood restaurant The Salt Room provides you with an opportunity to taste the fresh and good seasoning dish when visiting the south side’s beautiful city of Brighton. It is situated in the heart of Brighton – opposite to a West Pier. If you decide to visit it, you are not going to regret the relaxed atmosphere and food selection. There is huge variety of dishes and the menu is prepared to meet everyone’s preferences. You can choose to try out different grilled fishes with diversion of spices, eat a full portion of monkfish or even order mixed seafood plate to share with your whole table. As there are many variations to choose from the main dishes, you definitely cannot miss out on the afternoon meal which involves salmon and squid ink buns with a tasteful British tea.

River Exe Café, Exmouth

River Exe Café is an incredible restaurant brought from the idea to put the dining place on water. The restaurant is floating in the River Exe off Exmouth. When you decide to try something new and experience unique dining reception, this restaurant is the place for you. Fishes caught straight from the river go to the kitchen and are prepared for the various delicious meals. You arrive to the restaurant by a water taxi from the shore and after a few minutes you step out of it on the custom-constructed barge. The food menu includes lobsters, shrimps, oysters and other exquisite dishes you would expect. It is amazing how you can enjoy your food floating in the middle of the river and appreciate the fascinating views at the same time.

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Types of Seafood – Part Two

There are still more categories of seafood to be examined, with this article highlighting some of the more controversial types of seafood that are eaten around the globe, as well as the Seafood that would not be the first to jump into people’s mind because it is the plant life that comes from the sea. Understanding the classifications of Seafood and their origins will give people more insight into the sustainability of Seafood – as this is not a category of food that can be farmed forever at the current rate.

Crustaceans

These are very popular in many seafood dishes and are invertebrates that have a hard shell that protects their softer, segmented bodies. Shrimp and prawns are the first for this category, which are very widespread and can be found in fresh water and in the sea. Crab is the next subgroup and are often recreationally fished in coastal towns, similar to the next group of Lobsters, there is little meat, but they are both considered more of a delicacy than a lot of other seafood. The final group in this subcategory is krill, which can be likened to shrimp, however they have external gills and more than ten legs. Krill are commonly consumed in Japan and Russia; however, they are much less common around the rest of the world where they are more frequently used to make fish feed and oil.

Other Aquatic Animals

There are other aquatic animals that are controversially consumed as seafood, including dolphin and whale which fall under the group of aquatic mammals. Their consumption is illegal across the western world, however in modern-day Japan whale meat is consumed and sold at a very high cost. Another group that are illegal to consume in many countries are aquatic reptiles, with sea turtles being consumed way back in the fifth century BC. Sea turtles are still caught and eaten around the world, although the act is illegal across most countries, as most of the species are endangered or even critically endangered. Jellyfish are the final group in this category, and are also not consumed regularly around the world, the dish is only particularly common in Japan and takes a lot of preparation. The jellyfish is dried within hours of being fished, and then can go through a preparation that can take up to forty days and is as such considered a delicacy.

Aquatic Plants

It is not just aquatic animals that are considered seafood, there are many types of plants found in the sea which are readily available. The most popular dish by far is seaweed, which is actually a form of algae but is farmed and prepared in multiple countries and has been for hundreds of thousands of years. The other group of aquatic plants consumed by humans is microphytes, with the most common form being spirulina which has had a rise in popularity especially in the fitness industry as a powder or tablet form due to its many supposed health benefits.

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Types of Seafood – Part One

Although there are hundreds of different types of seafood, and thousands of different ways to prepare the food, there are five main categories as identified by the International Standard Statistical Classification of Aquatic Animals and Plants and adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation. These categories contain several subgroups and then even more species within these, and are; fish, molluscs, crustaceans, other aquatic animals and aquatic plants. The data includes both seafood caught in the wild and those raised through the practice of aquaculture.

Fish

The most popular of the types of Seafood in terms of tonnes consumed fish can be split into five subgroups. The first of these is marine pelagic, which are fish that live and feed near the bottom of the sea and include fish such as; tuna, swordfish and smaller fish like herring and sardines. The next group are known as marine demersal and are very similar to the pelagic fish in terms of where they live and feed, however they are much less active than the pelagic fish and differ in their appearance by their white flesh, compared to the red flesh of the pelagic fish. The difference in colour of the flesh is due to the fact that the pelagic fish are more active than the demersal, and as such the red flesh is a characteristic of the more powerful swimming muscles that they need. Another group is the diadromous which are fish that inhabit fresh water and the sea and include fish such as salmon and eels.

The final sub group in the fish category is the freshwater fish, which – as their name suggests – inhabit fresh water like rivers and lakes. Some common examples of fresh water include carp, bass and trout. Due to their location fresh water fish find themselves being fish farmed more readily than their counterparts.

Molluscs

Molluscs are invertebrates with soft bodies, two of the subgroups are protected by a shell, whilst the third is not. The first of this group is the bivalves, which refers to the two hinged shells, such as; oysters, scallops and mussels. This subgroup is very popular, especially in finer dishes, they usually bury themselves on the seabed or against rocks and hard surfaces to keep themselves safe from predators. Oysters were favoured by the ancient Romans and are very popular in Ireland, where it is very normal to buy oysters as a bar snack to go with a pint of Guinness – this tradition doesn’t feature in the rest of the UK and can be quite a surprising combination to come across. Gastropods are the other category that have a protective shell, although this is in a single piece as opposed to the bivalves and popular gastropods include limpets and whelks. The final subgroup in this category are cephalopods, which don’t have a shell at all and are generally of higher intelligence than their two counterparts in this category. Octopus ad squid are both examples of this group which are eaten around the world, both of which require delicate preparation to be safely consumed.

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Seafood and Health

Seafood – in particular fish – has long been regarded as a staple part of a balanced diet, offering several health benefits. Despite its popularity many people do not know the full detail of these benefits or any information about the potentially negative impact of seafood on health. If people are aware of the potential risks, it is not always clear how that risk comes about and whether the risk is great enough to eliminate seafood from the diet.

Benefits of Eating Seafood

Some of the health benefits of Seafood are very well known, for instance amongst the health world it is common knowledge that the fat content, but the good fats – or the essential fats as they are known – are very prevalent. These essential fats – Omega-3s – are found in most fish, especially oily fish, and are an essential building block of the brain. The calorie content is also very low, which makes seafood very popular amongst the diet community. Another health benefit is that due to the low levels of saturated fat, seafood Is low in cholesterol, which is of course a very big concern for many people and a contributing factor in heart disease. Seafood is also high in protein and contains a high number of vitamins and minerals, including; zinc, iodine and B group vitamins – both of these benefits mean seafood is often part of an athletic diet, for those with high energy expenditures looking to replenish and repair the muscle, Sir Andy Murray, Britain’s most successful tennis player in the open era is known to eat fifty pieces of sushi every day due to the high demands of his tennis training.

Seafood has such a good reputation amongst the health world that government and health organisations recommend eating seafood twice a week in order to benefit from all of the healthy factors previously mentioned. However, there are known risks to eating too much seafood, and the risks are great enough for people to switch off from eating seafood altogether. The question that many people have to consider is whether the benefits outweigh the risks.

Potential Risks Associated with Seafood

One of the most common risks associated with eating Seafood is the consumption of mercury – due to human’s negative impact on oceans the levels of mercury are increasing within fish, largely because of toxins and environmental pollutants entering the oceans. This risk is greater when consuming fish that prey on other fish, as these larger fish, such as Shark and Swordfish, ingest mercury themselves and the mercury from the fish they eat, making it very prevalent in these fish. As mercury can have a negative impact on the developing nervous system, there is the fear the high levels could jeopardize the development of the brain in a foetus and young infants, which is why the NHS advised pregnant and nursing mothers to only eat low levels of oily fish such as salmon and to restrict their tuna intake to no more than four cans per week. It is clear that there are risks associated with eating seafood, however as long as the fish is cooked properly and consumption is within recommended levels, the health benefits outweigh the risks and seafood can be part of a healthy and balanced diet.

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The History of Looe

The coastal sea-town of Looe can be found in the South-East of Cornwall and is divided by the River Looe into East and West Looe. Although connected by a bridge, Looe eventually developed as two completely separated towns with their own members of parliament and mayors. The first recorded mention of the two boroughs came from a charter granted by King Henry II giving his favour to Sir Henry Bodrugan as the Mayor of East Looe.

Looe has a rich history that can be traced back as early as 1000 BC, with archaeological excavations uncovering an ancient hill and the aptly-named ‘Giant’s Hedge’ which is a seven-mile route that follows an ancient boundary wall very popular with tourists today. The houses constructed in ancient Looe were designed to minimise losses against frequent, severe flooding which is still common today, the houses were constructed with the living quarters upstairs and storage for boats and fishing equipment at the lower level – these are nick-named ‘fishermen’s cellars’.

Ancient Looe thrived as a busy port and was a key player in the fishing and boatbuilding industries, with the textile industry even playing a key role in the town’s history due to its trade and transport links. However, the history is not all good, with pirates ravaging the town in 1625 and kidnapping and enslaving over eighty fisherman – most of the inhabitants were able to escape, however the whole town was torched in flames. As the Victorian era came, so did the penchant for seaside holidays, which helped to elevate Looe as a tourist town leading to multiple hotels and tourist attractions and facilities being built. As travel became more available to the masses, tourism grew, and this effect created in the Victorian era still resonates with modern day Looe now.

Modern Day Looe

Looe has remained a fishing town through to today, with several fleets of fishing boats leaving the port daily and coming back with catch that has a reputation for being particularly fresh and tasty. Whilst fishing obviously plays a key part in the town, Looe relies on its main source of income coming from tourism, with pubs, restaurants and ships taking over the majority of the town. There are multiple attractions in and around Looe, including; the Woolly Monkey Sanctuary, luxurious beaches, water activities, and numerous coastal walks.

Looe and the New Year

Surprisingly, this small seaside town has actually been named as the one of the top 10 places to ring in the New Year in the UK and was even ranked third on the list in the years 2007-2008. This is due to the fact that there is a long-standing tradition, which the inhabitants started, of dressing up in fancy dress and taking to the streets to revel and party together. This tradition has grown over the years as tourists flock to the town to take part, the crowds start the celebrations in the centre of the town and throughout the evening make their way over to the seafront for the scheduled fireworks display which is timed to ring in the New Year.

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What Does the Future Hold for the Seafood Industry?

Due to the popularity and high demand for seafood it is inevitable that there will be an end, the levels of fishing that take place today cannot continue forever, and there are many global problems that will change the landscape of seafood for the worse. All of the issues analysed below have led research to believe that we could reach a global seafood crisis – as in no fish available at all – by only 2048! It is abundantly clear that the state and future of seafood will alter dramatically over the next few decades unless real change can be implemented.

The Sustainability of Seafood

Overfishing is a real problem and has been for many centuries, but it is only within the last three decades that the issue has been brought to light and people made aware of the severity and impact that overfishing is having on the world. The practice essentially means that a particular species is fished at a rate faster than their natural reproduction, so if that rate continued then that particular species would become extinct. Unfortunately, mankind has become so reliant on fish as a high source of protein and nutrition that the demand is always rising, making the practice of fishing very profitable for huge corporations, therefore more must be done about making people more aware of sustainable seafood, and the benefits that seeking out this product has. The Marine Conversation Society works very hard to ensure the longevity of our ocean life and have a simple tool on their site which enables the user to check on the sustainability level of a fish, rated green as good, through to red as bad. You can view their descriptions, ratings – and reasons for ratings – for 158 different species of fish on the website which they hope will help people make the choice about which fish they should purchase. These ratings are also used by the industry, restaurants and supermarkets, as these will be the key decision makers who can make a real difference. They have done research to analyse the packaging of all fish fingers to test how they are conveying the sustainability of their fish, with the following results:

Overfishing is not the only contributor to this major issue, global warming has led to an increase in the ocean’s average temperature – with no signs of slowing down, this has and will continue to have a massive impact on the sea life inhabiting these oceans. Another contributing factor is yet another man-made problem, and that is recycling, for years human-kind have dumped plastic and other non-bio-degradable materials into the ocean to the detriment of sea life. There are global initiatives in place, but many believe that the damage caused is already too great and we will never get the oceans back to their ideal state.

Finally, rising global population is one more point that has a clear impact on seafood. Quite simply, with more mouths to feed there will be less food to go around, unless efforts are made to look for other sources of nutrition. As many developing countries rely on seafood as a major source of protein and nutrition it is important that the first world countries take the responsibility and bring a solution that will create a world of sustainable sea food, with the food available to those who need it most.

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History of Seafood

As the famous saying goes, ‘give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life.’ The fame and use of this old Chinese proverb just show the importance of seafood in cultures across the globe. Since mankind taught themselves how to fish, seafood has been a staple and favourite of the human diet – and with so many different types of seafood and ways to prepare the food, the possibilities are almost endless.

Ancient History

Seafood has been in abundance in our oceans since the beginning of time and humans began to harvest and eat Seafood very early on. Although the hunter-gatherer rarely stayed in one place for long due to survival needs, being near a source of fish would always have been a consideration as it was a relatively easy method for sustenance. Archaeological evidence found in South Africa dating back over 160,000 years ago proves that man was consuming seafood this long ago, and analysis of human remains 40,000 years old from Asia highlight that they were consistency consuming seafood too. More evidence can be found by looking at the remains of Ancient Egypt, drawings and documents show the Egyptians regularly fished and had developed tools and methods, with the river Nile being full of fresh fish there is even evidence that fishing was a hobby way back in these times as well. Ancient civilizations also knew how to make the most out of Seafood and would use the remaining bones for a multitude of purposes including; jewellery, decoration and writing implements.

The history of seafood in England is slightly different, with seafood being seeing as a lesser alternative to meat during the Medieval times – feasts were very much centred around beef and pork, with fish as a side-dish. This was very different around the coastal areas, which makes sense as seafood would be much fresher tasting here as it would have taken days to transport to the landlocked counties. Having said this, eating fish fresh was not the only way it was consumed, large amounts of the consumed fish would have been salted or dried and sometimes smoked, which would have meant it could travel far and wide.

Japanese History of Seafood

Japan has a rich culture of seafood that is steeped in History – being very famous for Sushi, the origins of how this increasingly popular dish developed are very interesting. In ancient Japan fish was preserved in fermented rice, the Japanese would then discard the rice and eat the fish, which was an integral staple of the diet. Later this dish developed so that the rice could be consumed with the fish at the same time, vinegar and vegetables were added to the rice for taste and became the base for the Sushi that is consumed today. Different regions would develop new and exciting combinations of flavours which helped to shape the state of seafood consumption in Japan for hundreds of years, with hundreds of varieties available – a list of the most popular can be found here.

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Seafood Festivals in the UK

In the United Kingdom, seafood festivals have developed greatly through the years and became events you do not want to miss out on. There are festivals happening over the whole year annually and they are usually located around the coast. What some call the United Kingdom ‘a small island’, they do not realize how fine it is because of the freshest seafood all around the country. If you are into seafood just for the taste or if you are a true fanatic about it, you must celebrate the prosperous fishing industry by visiting the festivals. We present you few festivals that you might want to consider planning your trip for.

Scotland’s finest seafood festival, mid-May

Next to the beautiful coast of Scotland’s south side there is an authentic seafood dining spot and with the adjustments made to the bar and the ground, you can visit and enjoy the seafood restaurant. It is going to be worth your time because of the views you will enjoy, and local dishes prepared. During the festival, you can find a lot of food stands around the place and the only problem is going to be that you will have to spin your head about hundreds of food options. You will want to taste every single dish! You will find oysters, shellfish, venison and shortbread, and more food you can think of. Additionally, there are many food lectures and workshops to improve your skill and knowledge about cooking seafood. Live music will make the festival even more exciting!

Seafood festival at Dorset, the start of July

The festival started way back in 2008 and from then, the popularity led to the increase of visitors every year and the festival itself expanded to hold more activities and food stands. With the help of an iPhone application, guests can plan their schedule throughout the weekend and see useful information such as maps, food stands locations and a list of activities. The main stage holds a lot of different events and invites people to participate in games and even fish auctions. You can find any seafood you want in the festival and try out samples of saffron-soaked crab or fish fingers.

Oyster festival in Cornwall, mid-July

The festival held in Cornwall in the middle of July is a big annual occasion to meet up for plates filled up with seafood. The main dish of the festival is oysters and that is why more people every year come to experience the famous Cornwall oysters. A year back the festival received a famous sponsor and it is one of the top country’s brewing companies, which let everyone knew pints will be loaded and oysters will be spiced up. If you are there for some good weekend fun, you are not going to be disappointed. There is going to be live music, food competitions and cooking lessons on how to prepare oysters and other seafood. And that is not all! On the ground of the festival, there is going to be jacuzzies and saunas where you can relax and enjoy the fun. Guests are proposed to stay overnight in a camp and are offered a football game on the last day’s morning.

That is a good way to start off your Sunday!

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Is sushi always a healthy choice?

Sushi is held as a normal and healthy choice of a snack or a full meal, however, dietitians make claims that the famous dish coming from Asia is not as healthy as you may think. There is more to it than seeing fish and vegetables wrapped in unharmful rice. The meal that looks nutritious is not always a good option for the healthy lifestyle. 

The sushi bits are filled with calories that can reach over hundreds. You might not expect it or think when you are eating the meal, but it is definitely not as healthy as sushi restaurants advertise. The significant problem of them all is quantity regulation. Just a single sushi roll that is made of rice and fish can be filled with five hundred calories or even more. The biggest number of calories comes from nice looking sticky rice. They are not just simple white rice, boiled and put onto the sushi, they are much more. They are usually made with added marinade and sugar which is the main issue. More than that, the sugar holds the most calories and is a threat to the so-called meal. 

North America’s dietitians agreed with the statement which said that if people do not smartly consider and think thoughtfully about the sushi they eat and how much of it they consume, then they are going to meet problems along their way to the healthy diet and daily lifestyle they propose for themselves. If you do not pay attention, you will not add any healthy assets to your body.

One of the professional dietitians mentioned that sushi can be beneficial for a human’s body to get some omega 3s vitamins. On the other hand, people have to be careful when consuming a large proportion of sushi because it can be marked as over-consumption and it may lead to health problems. It is recommended to avoid the sushi buffets where you can eat everything and as much as you want until you are full.  Nutritionists suggest eating sushi that is low on calories – nigiri, sashimi and maki. Nigiri sushi is made with one piece of fish and the whole piece contains only forty to fifty calories. Sashimi is called the healthiest sort of sushi as it consists of only fresh fish with no rice. One bit of this type of sushi has from thirty to forty calories! Maki rolls are made with the fish in the center and seaweed covered on the external side. 1 piece of maki – 48 calories. The pack of maki sushi (6 pieces) does not even add up to three hundred calories! In addition, try to tolerate sushi that only comes with products such as salmon full of omega 3s, avocados and brown rice (alternative to white rice). If there is an option in a restaurant or you are making homemade sushi, choose the brown rice as it has more minerals and vitamins to slightly raise your meal to a healthy rate. And do not forget – try to dodge the offerings from others to eat sushi with special sauces and ones with deep fried ingredients in them. What is promoted to be healthy is not always true.