Fruit of the Sea

Sheffield is a long way from the sea, but we do have some fine fishmongers in the city.

Some people are a little daunted by cooking with fish, since it can involve dealing with bones, heads and tails. If you are squeamish about these parts, you can enlist the help of your friendly fishmonger.

Take your pick from JH Mann on Sharrow Vale Road, Smith and Tissington in the Moor Market or Boldocks Fishmongers in Woodseats. They are all skilled in their craft and will prepare fish or shellfish for you as required, including skinning, filleting and cleaning. They’ll also give you more information if you want advice on cooking techniques, where the fish has come from, which varieties are in season and what types are sustainable.

How do you spot fresh fish? The skin should be firm, if you open the gills they should be red and bloody, the eyes should be bright, and it shouldn’t smell of fish. For shellfish, the shells should be intact without cracks and you should choose ones whose shells are tightly closed.

When buying fish we tend to be creatures of habit, so the most popular are often salmon, cod and tuna, but there are so many more to try. Mix it up and do your bit to sustain marine environments and fish stocks. Instead of cod, try coley, hake or pouting. Choose mackerel or sardines instead of tuna. Go for clams and mussels as a budget budget option instead of prawns. They are great in pasta, or try your hand at the French classic, moules frites. Creamy garlic mussels with herbs and chips is the perfect comfort food.

There are so many cuisines and recipes to enjoy which include fish and seafood, and many can be cost effective too, like risotto and stews. To get your appetite going, here’s some suggestions: Mexican cod cheek tacos, South Indian fish curry with pollock, Japanese tempura oysters, Spanish paella with prawns and squid, kedgeree with smoked haddock, or a simple, crowd-pleasing prawn cocktail.

Cooking with fish doesn’t have to be complicated. Using pre-cooked or tinned fish is ok and super quick. Tinned tuna is great for a Nicoise salad with new potatoes, olives and green beans, while smoked mackerel is ideal with salad for a healthy work lunchbox. Why not test out a few dishes on the BBQ? Try stuffing a whole gutted fish with lemongrass, ginger and chilli, wrap it in newspaper and steam it until cooked through. Add a few sardines onto the grill when the heat has dropped to medium and cook until the skin is blackened and crisp. Serve with a green salad and zesty lemon and herb dressing.

We all need a treat every now and again. You can indulge in fresh oysters with a glass of fizz at JH Mann’s, or take a trip to Butcher & Catch in Broomhill and choose from gin-cured sea trout, blackened red mullet and sweet chilli squid. A newbie on the block to look out for is East Coast Lobster, who recently did a pop-up at the Ball Street Market, offering fresh lobster from Scarborough. Alternatively, The Rutland Arms are doing tasty things with octopus and we also spotted a fine looking plate of sea bass with potato gratin and gazpacho caper butter.

We can’t not mention fish and chips. City favourites include Ranmoor Fiery, Two Steps on Sharrow Vale Road, Broomheads on Crookes and New Cod on the Block on Commonside. We all have our preferences. You might enjoy curry sauce or gravy on your chips or love a Sheffield fishcake, which is essentially fish sandwiched between two slices of potato and battered.

For me, it has to be fish and chips served the traditional way, eaten straight out of the paper. The chips have a scattering of vinegar and salt, a crisp batter encases tender and moist fish, and there’s a generous portion of mushy peas.

Ros Ayres
nibblypig.co.uk

Thai-Style Salmon Fishcakes

Recipe by Ros Ayres
Serves 3

120g cooked salmon, flaked
1 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tsp peanut butter
1 tsp fresh chilli, finely chopped
1 spring onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp breadcrumbs
Half a lime, zest and juice
1 tbsp sunflower oil

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl except for the salmon, then add the salmon and shape into small patties. Chill in the fridge until ready to cook.

Add sunflower oil to a frying pan and shallow fry the fishcakes each side for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Serve with a scattering of fresh coriander and black sesame seeds.