Seasource fish is completely local, is wild caught and also sustainable

Seasource set up a pop up fish shop in Kilkeel for a trial period of three months. The shop remains a permanent fixture and is thrivingSeasource set up a pop up fish shop in Kilkeel for a trial period of three months. The shop remains a permanent fixture and is thriving
Seasource set up a pop up fish shop in Kilkeel for a trial period of three months. The shop remains a permanent fixture and is thriving | User (UGC)
It’s all too easy to take things for granted. This lockdown has taught me that access to local fish is a perfect example.

In normal times I would have picked up supplies from St George’s market in Belfast or from Gareth’s fish van in Portrush every Thursday.

Travel restrictions have put paid to that but many of Northern Ireland’s fish suppliers have now started delivering to your door.

One of them, Seasource, based in Kilkeel is a cooperative of fishermen that can trace their history back to 1853. It was set up in this famous fishing town in its current form in 1984 to represent fishermen, control quotas and market the fishing industry. In 2006 they began to auction fish and in 2014 a fish processing plant was set up. Their CEO Alan McCulla told me that in 2015 they had the idea of exhibiting at the annual Balmoral Show. They wanted to promote the fact that fishing is a local industry that needs our support. Their stand was a hive of activity with people buying lots of fish. But they wanted to know where they could buy fish the other 362 days of the year. As a result Seasource set up a pop up fish shop in Kilkeel for a trial period of three months. The shop remains a permanent fixture and is thriving. In response to the Covid-19 crisis they adapted quickly to turn the shop into a hub for home deliveries of seafood.

Alan says that people have been enthusiastic and rave about the quality of the fish. He says this is because the fish is completely local, is wild caught and sustainable. Every morning a list of what’s available is posted on Facebook and customers ring to order. They engage with the manager of the shop who offers advice. With lockdown customers have been experimenting with fish and cooking with things like crab that they wouldn’t normally have. Last week Alan said they had 4 kilo of seasnails available. I saw a photo of these on social media and they aren’t blessed in the looks department but apparently they went down a storm. One of their delivery drivers managed to sell them all on his rounds. Initially deliveries were confined to the Mourne area but are now available throughout the province.

We’ve become stuck in our ways in this country concentrating on easily available fish like seabass and salmon. All the seabass that comes into this country has been farmed either in Turkey or Asia. It’s not local but hake, Pollack, ling, coley and a myriad of other fish are. Not only do they taste infinitely better but by buying them you’ll be supporting our local fishing industry.

Every penny of profit from the Seasource shop is reinvested in the business, either to buy the catch from the fishermen or provide training. Right now they are supplying fishing crew and factory staff with PPE.

A lot of people think they don’t like fish because of the smell. If fish smells like fish, it’s because it’s about to go off.

Fresh fish is odourless. Seasource vacuum pack the fish and you can cook in the bag to avoid any cooking smells. An alternative is to embrace the barbecue and cook outside. Oily fish like mackerel, tuna, gurnard and herrings are perfect for the grill as are “meaty” fish like monkfish and ling.

Brush with oil and season with seasalt and cook directly on the hot grill.

Don’t be tempted to cook in foil – you won’t get the lovely smokiness and caramelisation in the cooking. My recipe this week is for local scallops cooked on the barbecue with a grilled carrot salad. I love the combination of sweetness from the fish and the vegetables, cut through with a zingy dressing and crunchy almonds. Richard and Leona Kane from Broighter Gold rapeseed oil have recently started to grow carrots.

Their reclaimed sandy land is ideal for this crop. If you go to broightergold.co.uk you can see a video of me cooking this dish ( and others).

For other recipes and sourcing of local fish go to fishisthedish.co.uk.

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