Fantastic Fish!

This week, the Yemeni tourist board had to issue a press release informing the people of Britain, that there was actually -no Salmon fishing available in the Yemen – and to please stop making fishing enquiries. This bonkers statement was released because of the hype around the new movie starring Ewan McGregor, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – Image from Moviefanatic.com

A Sheikh becomes obsessed with the idea of bringing salmon runs to the Yemeni desert and enlists the help of fisheries expert Fred Jones. Its such a funny story about British pessimissm, spin doctorism and eventual hope as Fred and the Sheikh believe that fishing can bring about world peace!

Smoked salmon with scrambled egg and lemon is probably my favourite breakfast in the whole wide world. I am also going through a fish-finger obsession. Fish finger sandwiches with ketchup, or fish fingers and refried beans, and fish fingers with eggs for breakfast. Fish fingers of fun! Although, I’ve yet to try the famous Dr Who-vian, fish fingers with custard.

Fish Fingers with Custard. Dr Who (BBC) image from Bakingdom.com

But most of all, I love smoked fish and luckily, Scotland has some of the best smoked fish in the world. Craster Kippers, Inverawe smoked salmon and smoked sea trout and luscious peppered makerel. The most amazing smoked seafood I have ever eaten, however, was probably – smoked lobster, gently smoked over old whisky barrels (a speciality of Andrew Fairlie at the Gleneagles Hotel).

But it was only in the last few years that we discovered Arbroath Smokies. Arbroath Smokies – can only be obtained from the village of Auchmithie, north of Arbroath. It is thought the great Norse men probably introduced the technique of smoking and drying fish to the early Britons (check out this classic 1980s children’s book by Terry Jones on the Vikings – very dark and sinister).

The Smokie is actually a  haddock, which is dry salted and then hung on sticks and smoked over whisky barrels filled with beech and oak chips. The result is a fish with a leathery skin but succulent flakes inside. Legend has it that the fish was discovered in the burnt remains of a house that had caught fire, and found that the final charred fish was absolutely delicious.

We usually pick up smokies from our local fishmonger on a Saturday to have for lunch…

Arbroath Smokie
The Arbroath Smokies need nothing but heating up in a hot oven for 5-10 minutes.

Celeriac Mash
1 medium celeriac
2 tbsp cream
1 roast garlic clove
Salt and pepper
Pinch of nutmeg

Grilled Leeks
Red Onion
Roast hazelnuts
Salt and pepper
White wine

1. Steam your leeks and onions over water with a cup of white wine until soft.
2. Meanwhile, roast your hazelnuts in the oven for 10mins, then blitz with the breadcrumbs, parmesan and salt and pepper.
3. Take out the leeks and onions and put into a baking dish and sprinkle with the hazelnut topping.
4. Bake in the oven for around 10 mins until the topping is golden brown.

Oh yeah. This is a fantastic fish!

Fishy Tales and Fantastic fish.

Possibly the greatest fishy characters of all are: the Babel Fish, the Kraken, Sharkey & George; Nemo and Ponyo.

There are a surprising number of great vintage fishy books. The classic Dr Seuss’ One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish – has the best drawings of frilly sea creatures. Emile the Octopus (1959) is Tomi Ungerer’s story of a deep sea diver, Captain Samovar, who makes friends with an octopus that he invites to come and live with him. Then there is Louis the Fish, (Arthur Yorinks and Richard Egielski) is a butcher who hates meat but loves fish. “One day last spring, Louis, a butcher, turned into a fish. Silvery scales. Big lips. A tail. A salmon.”

Then there are newer books, like the Pout Pout Fish, Tiddler, and Miyazaki’s Ponyo.

Ponyo is a sort of magical goldfish that turns into a little girl. She unwittingly releases an elixir which reverts the seas back to the Cambrian era, when the seas were full of enormous creatures; trilobites, dunkleosteus and placoderms. Now those were fantastic fish!


8 thoughts on “Fantastic Fish!

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