Can Cook, Must Cook

The food adventures of Franka P, a Trinidadian journalist living in London, UK. I'll write about my forays into all types of food and cooking, particularly Caribbean food. I'll also review books and recipes by the leading food writers and talk about the issues making headlines in the gastronomic world.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Fishy adventures at dawn

Last Thursday, I was at the Billingsgate Fish Market before sunrise for a pescatorial adventure. I spent the day at Europe's biggest fish market skinning, filleting and boning fish.
For about three years, I've been thinking about doing
Billingsgate's Knife Skills course but the timing was always wrong. In January, I pledged to spend the next few years learning as much as I can about food and cooking.
Ideally, I'd love to take some time off and do an intensive cooking course, but since I can't do that, the next best option is to find short courses to fill the gaps in my knowledge.
This course was near the top of my 'food things to do' list and believe me, the three-year wait was worth it.

In case you're wondering why I had to be there so early, it's because the market's business hours are from 5 am to 8.30 am and the first part of the course was a tour of the market with a market inspector.
Our inspector was the extremely engaging Barry O'Toole. He showed us the extensive range of seafood available at the market and more importantly, how to guage its freshness.
Billingsgate certainly caters to London's multicultural society as it has a wide variety of 'exotic' fish from seas all over the world. I saw fish we use regularly in Caribbean cooking like grouper, cavali and kingfish. I was especially struck by the shellfish - huge crabs, meaty mussels and succulent looking tiger prawns.
The atmosphere on the market floor was amazing and now that I've seen the excellent quality seafood at such reasonable prices, I'm ready to make regularly early morning pilgramages to east London.
Duncan LucasFor the practical part of the course, we were lucky to have Duncan Lucas as our instructor. Duncan is one of the UK's top fishmongers and a damn good teacher. His passion for the fish and his depth of knowledge was breathtaking.
Duncan has been the UK Fishmonger of the Year on five consecutive occasions and he runs a seafood business called
Passionate About fish with his partner Sue. What Duncan doesn't know about fish, probably isn't worth knowing. The man is like a walking seafood encyclopaedia.
I can boast that post-Duncan, I'm now able to (among other things) fillet a plaice, skin lemon sole and gurnard, prepare squid and gut a snapper without gashing the belly.
Duncan also teaches the shellfish course at Billingsgate and as soon as I find a suitable date, I'll be there.
At the end of the day, I had a huge bag of fish (worth about £50) to bring home, including the lovely snapper that I'm going to stuff with coriander, parsley, grated ginger and chopped garlic before deciding how to cook it. I can hardly wait!

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  • At 22:32, Blogger sweet trini said…

    gyul, grims made a wicked fish the other night and this post sending me in the fridge right now for the leftovers. early dinner tonight!
    walk good.


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