Fishing for compliments…

January 25, 2010

This weekend, my shopping at Borough Market was all about fish. I’d recently noticed a new-ish stall and, yesterday, took a closer look. It was selling a small but perfectly fresh selection of fish that had come direct from some Devon boats, and when I checked the prices, it was significantly cheaper than some of the other more established fish stalls in the market.

A box of shiny silvery-black mackerel caught my eye, so I asked for one, plus a small-ish squid. Then, as I was about to pay the whopping £3 for the two items, I saw two large roe sacks.

“What fish is that from?” I asked. “Sea bass,” the guy informed me. “You can have it, and your other bits, for a fiver.” Now, in my books, that’s an offer you don’t refuse!

The mackerel has gone in the freezer for later in the week, and I’ll have the squid tonight, but last night I decided to eat the roe while it was super-fresh.

Some online research led me to discover that bass roe is something of a delicacy in the States, where it’s cooked simply by poaching in some stock. So that’s what I did. Although, me being me, I had to add something else – and this time it was a lemon and chive sauce.

Once cooked, the roe resembled a fishy boudin, but the tiny eggs gave it a very smooth texture. It was quite mild in taste, with just a hint of sea-saltiness – but it was very rich, and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to eat the whole thing.

I’m not sure it’s something I would bother buying if I saw it again, but hey, you have to try these things once in a while…

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4 Responses to “Fishing for compliments…”

  1. Gabby Says:

    You’re very brave! They’re well into roe of all kinds here, as you might remember, but I steer well clear of it! I’m very partial to squid though – it’s lovely raw and thinly sliced, with some soy sauce and grated ginger. The mackerel is great here; very oily and succulent.


  2. Hi Gabby. Yes, I certainly do have fond memories of roe in Japan. Although my all-abiding roe memory is of something that turned out not be roe at all. Having dinner at Kazumi’s aunt’s house in Nara, I popped a piece of sushi in my mouth, thinking it was roe, only to discover it was raw sea urchin – and utterly revolting! However, being the guest in a Japanese home, all I could do was smile sweetly and swallow as quickly as my gag reflex would allow me!

  3. codhead Says:

    Freezing mackerel?

    That’s just madness. Mackerel should be eaten as fresh as is possible, preferrably straight from the sea and in the pan. I sometimes don’t even bother with the pan, from the sea, dispatched, filleted and eaten raw with wasabi & soy, or follow HF-W’s recipe for gravadmax. Either way, I’d certainly not eat mackerel more than a day old and froxen mackerel is only good for bait.

    On the subject of bass roe, this year I’ll be attempting to get some roe smoked at Bridport Smokery, I’ll have a word with them when I drop off the 5 kilos of pollack roe that came from yesterday’s catch.


  4. Yes, I’m sure you’re right that it’s not ideal to freeze mackerel – I’ve also heard that the oiliness of the fish doesn’t make it great for the freezer. But I have to say that I’ve never had a problem with it. And I’d rather stick it in the freezer than have it go to waste. Not being lucky enough to live on the coast (which it sounds like you do), lovely fresh fish is usually only available to me when I do my Saturday shop at Borough Market.
    But do let me know if you find out anything more about bass roe. Would be interested to know if it’s worth buying again.


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