Fish for Thought‘s fresh thinking.
I like to eat fish enormously, but its an experience now that I most associate with going out for dinner in a restaurant. It is such a crying shame, living in an island that we do, that the treat of eating fish is all too often confined to this. I’ve childhood memories of trailing a line for mackerel off a boat in Cornish waters, grilling them on a beach barbecue and feasting on these slivery-stripped beauties with my hands, and I can still remember, in every deliciously gustatory detail exactly how superb, freshly caught, simply cooked fish can be.
Yet, when it comes to buying and cooking fish I’ll admit to being mostly flummoxed. The absence of the traditional fish monger on every high street has rendered us a generation of ‘battered cods’. I hardly know a monkfish’s tail from a skate’s wing. What’s good, what’s tasty, how to prepare it and cook it and where to get it? All my good intentions normally flounder at the wet fish counter in a supermarket. I can’t tell if it’s a ‘fresh plaice’ or a ‘damp squid’ so I might only be daring enough for a piece of pink salmon or a mix of white stuff I can hide in a fish pie. The truth is that I lack confidence. There are too many reasons not to bother and just reach – like a flaccid fishy failure – into the freezer cabinet for what Captn’ Bird’s Eye can offer instead.
However,’ Fish For Thought’ – a specialist online fish monger – is exactly the answer to the broadband generation’s prayers. Founder, Paul Trudgian is a young entrepreneur with a dynamic approach to getting us enthusiastically eating fish once more; “In Cornwall we are blessed with an enormous range of fresh fish and shellfish which is landed daily and ‘Fish For Thought’, a small family-owned business, is passionate about seafood and bringing the very best of it to our customers.” Paul explains the principles of his business: “We are really proud to be the first online retailer to achieve MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) Accreditation which means we are absolutely committed to local, sustainable sourcing. Location is also important and we are at the very heart of the Cornish fishing industry.”
I asked Paul what he thought were the main stumbling blocks that stopped people buying much fish. “People don’t buy because they say: ‘I don’t know what to do with it’, ‘I don’t like bones’ or ‘I don’t like the eyes looking at me’. I added that I also worried I’ll leave a lingering smell of fish in my kitchen that will make me regret cooking it, but most all I worry that fish is expensive and could be a costly and smelly failure if I get it wrong.
Ironically, when I was younger I was much more gung-ho. Sitting gutting fish, filleting and scraping off scales I could do without a second thought. Not only had I the advantage of growing up in Cornwall, but I also spent a year living on the shore of Lake Victoria in Kenya eating Nile Perch and Tilapia. Luckily, my children have inherited a taste for fish and are keen for almost anything fishy from Octopus to Lobster and everything in between. So not being able to serve exciting fishy dishes for my kids makes me feel totally inadequate.
Paul is reassuring, “Fish is an easy, easy thing to cook,” he says. “I’m only a simple cook and so I cook fish as simply as possible.” He agrees that there are expensive fish, but there are also much cheaper varieties of fantastic Cornish fish to be had. Just as tasty and great value. “I cooked bass and silver mullet for my mother-in-law – one expensive type of fish and one cheap one – and none of us could really tell the difference.”
As a company, Fish For Thought encourage their customers to call and discuss their requirements especially if customers can’t find exactly what they are looking for. “We are fishmongers and so offer a service as well as a product,” and the great advantage is that Fish For Thought will pre-prepare everything beforehand just as the customer requires: No bones, no eyes, no fiddling around before you put it in the pan to cook it. “I had a lady who called asking for tuna and prawns for a barbecue. I told her I could send her this but it wouldn’t be Cornish. In the end she had fresh mackerel fillets, scallops and whiting and she was much more delighted by what she got.”
Significantly, Paul’s customers are not just local people within spitting distance of the sea. “We deliver all over England, Wales and Scotland to just north of Edinburgh,” Paul says. The business is about guaranteeing to deliver the freshest of fish straight from Cornwall to your door. “It’s a next day delivery so the fish will arrive barely 24 hours old packed in ice in a Styrofoam box. The ice barely melts which is proof that the fish has been refrigerated for the entire journey.” Just imagine living in a place, such as Lichfield – about as far from the sea, in England, as you can possible get – and unpacking fish that tastes as fresh as it did when it was landed on the quay?
Fish for Thought’s minimum order is £25 and with that they can give a good selection of fresh fish in season to make sure that it offers a decent quantity to the customer. “If a customer isn’t satisfied or something goes wrong, we really want to know. We need to be able to put problems right and we offer a no quibble money back guarantee.” They also do ‘Say it with Seafood’ gift vouchers and a range of seafood boxes for the indecisive like me. Mmm? A romantic box of oysters, or a sea fresh Christmas hamper perhaps? It’s certainly fish for thought.
The ‘kid’s box’ (40 portions of a variety of fish for £40 – all pre-boned and ready prepared) was to prove ideal. It sounded like a simple ‘starter’ box for me that would give me a much needed confidence boost on my fish-cooking journey. My box arrived at the end of a Friday afternoon, and investigating what was contained within its volume of crushed ice was both thrilling and chilly beyond words: a delicious fish pie mix, some white fillets for making fish goujons, a large salmon fillet, some Cornish Cod and Pollack and lastly, eight fresh-filleted mackerel that were seized on immediately. Ten minutes or less in the oven just as they were, and served with potatoes newly dug from the garden, some green beans and a little lemon, salt and pepper. It was indeed a delicious and simple supper.
The best part was that it was easily as good as I remember mackerel tasting when cooked within hours of catching it straight from the sea. It also left my offspring doing the baby-bird impression: mouths open, “Is there any more fish?” they begged. We then enjoyed three non-stop days of fresh fish feasting but still had half a box for the freezer… Online fish is a definite ‘brainer’.
For more information:
Fish For Thought http://www.fishforthought.co.uk
Phone: 01637 806103
St Columb Business Centre Barn Lane St Columb Major Cornwall TR9 6BU