June 2012

Fal Fish Festival: Cornish Mackerel, Pan Fried Turbot, Wild Black Sea Bream and smoked eggs?

Amongst the Cornish Jubilee festivities underway, the third Fal Fish Festival takes place in Events Square in Falmouth on Sunday 3rd and Monday 4th June, as part of the annual Fal River Festival.

A bevy of cooking demonstrations form a great line up of top chefs showcasing their talents, and the finest fresh fish and seafood Cornwall has to offer, including Fiona Were of the Greenbank Hotel, Paul Ripley from the Rick Stein Seafood Bar, and Arty Williams of The Cove in Maenporth. Named as one of the top 10 female chefs in the UK by the Independent on Sunday, I was keen to see Fiona in action.

Fiona Were’s demonstration kicks off proceedings whereupon she captivates an enraptured foodie audience with her first fresh fish dish of the session. First up is a smoked Cornish Mackerel fishcake with a Japanese influence including ginger and lime juice, giving the dish an international twist, a focus for which Fiona is renowned as a born and bred New Zealander.

The fresh Cornish Mackerel were prepared by Fiona at home using a smoker bought for her as a gift, which has led to much experimentation, including the smoking of eggs (which sound delicious!).  Next up is a Wild Black Sea Bream dish which is cooked using Nature Kitchen’s Singapore Seasoning for fish which contains coriander, salt, fennel, cumin, turmeric, fenugreek, black pepper and chilli. When they’re pressed into the pan to cook the smell is incredible.

While the spices infuse with juices from the Bream, Fiona extols the virtues of using fresh, local, and seasonal produce, explaining that you cannot beat the flavour of a freshly-caught fish. Admirably, Fiona ensures all the seafood she uses is sustainable and clarifies that you can only know the provenance of any fish species if you use a trusted supplier who uses a traceable supply chain. Fiona’s passion for using fish caught using ethical methods and from sustainable sources is certainly a working ethos of which the Greenbank Hotel can be proud.

For her final dish, Fiona cooks fresh Turbot from our local shores using rapeseed oil rather than olive oil for a rich sunflower seed flavour. For accompaniment she uses fresh beans and lentils, and adds fennel and coriander seeds to bring out the beautiful flavour of the Turbot. To top the dish off, Fiona uses her own ready-prepared lemon puree containing blanched lemon slices which have been pulped and strained with sugar. With a flourish, the fish is served with fresh Samphire for the audience to taste.

When asked, it was interesting to see how few people had tried Turbot. After tasting Fiona’s dish, I hope most will be inspired to buy this lovely flat fish for their supper table in the future. Matthew Stevens, fishmonger and fresh fish merchant has supplied the Greenbank Hotel with seafood for many years. If you’d also like to take advantage of Cornwall’s stunning local produce, you can buy fresh Mackerel, Smoked Mackerel, Turbot and Wild Black Sea Bream using their online shop, or place an order over the telephone 01736 795135.

Words by Jakki Magowan | Pictures by Mike Newman