Fish in a Day is the first of Food Safari‘s “field to fork” experiences to arrive in London via Suffolk. Founded in 2009 by Polly Robinson, Food Safari takes people who love food to visit producers and learn more about the ingredients that they cook with. The London version, run in conjunction with Culinary Anthropologist and author of Eat Slow Britain, Anna Colquhoun, works in much the same way except the producers are brought to the course.
The class has four key aspects: introductions to producers, preparation of ingredients, cooking the dishes and sampling the results.
Sustainability is a big part of this course. All the fish and seafood, with the exception of the live Cornish crabs, were sourced from the Suffolk-based Maximus Sustainable Fish. Robinson and Colquhoun enthusiastically discuss how best to sustainably select and cook your fish over fresh coffee and biscuits before moving on to the practical aspect.
Colquhoun explains and demonstrates everything before you begin and there’s a lot to learn. Everyone get hands-on experience in how to fillet and skin round and flat fish, prepare squid, pick crabs, and sort mussels. The most tasking part is perhaps the fish. When it comes down to it though, all you need is a sturdy but flexible fillet knife to follow the skeleton of the fish, producing two fillets from round fish and four from flat. Mackerel, sea bass and lemon sole are used for practice and the fruits of your labour are then used as ingredients for cooking.
Working in small groups, we were assigned recipes for bouillabaisse, grilled squid and lemon sole goujons to make from scratch. Alongside the mains, you also learn some classic seafood accompaniments including aioli and charmoula.
After finishing six fish and seafood dishes, it’s a relief to be able to finally sit down and enjoy your efforts with a well deserved glass of wine or two.
The amount of hands-on experience gained from a Fish in a Day course makes it quite an intensive course but it is not only educational in the culinary sense – it will leave you more culturally and environmentally aware. The course is great for team building but perfect if you want to brush up on some fish and seafood skills, learn to make classic recipes and accompaniments and have some fun along the way.
*Fish in a Day is held at Anna Colquhoun’s teaching kitchen in Islington and costs £170 per person. The next dates are 24th and 25th March 2012, 3rd and 4th November 2012. To find out more, visit www.foodsafari.co.uk