• Shopping - A Passion for Seafood - Herrings

Winter Fish Tales with Mike Warner

Mike Warner is, among many things, a food writer with a deep rooted passion for seafood and fish. He is a seafood ambassador and has loved the sea and seafood all his life. 

His father instilled in him a deep-seated passion for the shallow seas of our Suffolk coastline. As a boy he marvelled at the indigenous flora and fauna of the intertidal zone and as he grew, he acquainted himself with the practices and skills of the inshore fisherman. Lobstering, long-lining for bull-headed cod and thorny roker and hooking (rod and line fishing) for whiting, dabs, bass and pouting.

Mike continues to work direct with local fishermen and now has his own fishmonger and wholesale fish merchants shop at Grange Farm in Hasketon. 

We are delighted to welcome Mike with his seasonal seafood and fish blog, and look forward to passing on his knowledge and tips, to encourage you to discover all that our coastline has to offer throughout the year.

Let’s dive in with 'Silver Darlings'!


Winter Fish Tales

As the days shorten and the winter solstice draws nigh, life on The Suffolk Coast continues at a quieter pace than the preceding, hectic days of summer and early autumn. Those bright open summer skies, soon give way to darker, colder mornings, light winds and often a pervading gloom of fog, as a still relatively warm sea, encounters colder air moving southwards

For our fishermen, it means a marked change in conditions too. The clearer water of recent months starts to ‘colour’ and fishing methods change according to the seasonal patterns and migration of fish and shellfish. The summer Dover sole fishery ebbs to a close, as does the inshore fishery for crab and lobster, as cooling sea temperatures mean a reluctance to feed and sees them return to deeper water to tough out the winter. Wild bass continue to be caught though for a while, the bigger fish being taken well offshore by rod and line, with a multitude of smaller fish inhabiting the estuaries of the Deben, Orwell and Stour. 

But where one opportunity ceases, another emerges and many of our boats are now geared up for the annual south’ard herring migration. These teeming, shoaling fish have been part of our coastal history in Suffolk for many generations of fishermen, with the Lowestoft fleets of drifters dominating herring output throughout the first half of the 20th century. With those days now gone, their annual migration is of course, far less important, but nonetheless, some of our boats do still catch the ‘Silver Darlings’ from Lowestoft right down to Felixstowe Ferry, using both traditional drift nets and more conventional mid-water trawl gear. One of nature’s true superfoods, herring are plentiful, affordable, eminently nutritious and incredibly versatile. 

Skate (Thornback ray or roker) so abundant over the summer, are still there and a return to traditional East Coast long lining should see catches pick up again. Landings of cod, once so commonplace all along our coastline, have been few and far between for several years now, but we always hope for their welcome return. The ubiquitous whiting though, show up everywhere and are a wonderfully sweet and light textured fish suitable for baking, frying or battering.

After Christmas shoals of silver should appear once again, but this time in the form of sprats - another underrated delicacy!

New Season Baked Herring with Lemon & Tomatoes Recipe

Shopping - A Passion for Seafood - Baked Herring with Lemon and Tomato

Try this delicious baked new season herring with lemon and tomato recipe - perfect for a festive brunch!

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 4 whole new season herrings, (gutted and cleaned)
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges
  • 4 large tomatoes (halved)
  • 2 tsps butter
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 4 cocktail sticks

Method:

Take the herrings and if necessary, clean further by washing in cold water and removing any remaining scales with a scaler or the back of a kitchen knife. 

Score the flanks of the herring each side and spread a little butter in the body cavities. Squeeze a little lemon over the fish and season well with salt and pepper.  Skewer the heads and tails of the herring together using the cocktail sticks and place in a foil lined baking dish with enough foil to create a parcel. 

Tip:

If using whole fresh herrings that you need to gut, keep the roes back, then dry them and add a squeeze of lemon juice and little ground nutmeg. Replace in the body cavity to bake - delicious!

Now season the tomatoes and place around the herring with the remainder of the lemon wedges. Cover with the sides of the foil to create the parcel and bake under a moderate heat - 180C Gas 4 for 15 mins. 

Take out the herrings and open up the parcel and bake for another five minutes. 

Remove from the oven and serve immediately with the tomatoes, lemons and some wholemeal or granary bread. 

A very fine dish indeed and so incredibly healthy for mind, body and soul……

Fresh, local herring, whiting and skate are now available weekly (weather permitting) at A Passion for Seafood's Shop at Grange Farm, Hasketon IP13 6HN - pay them a visit this winter and visit their website for more seafood recipes and inspiration www.apassionforseafood.com

Support the Suffolk Coast's Local Producers

The Suffolk Coast has a wealth of quality local producers all working hard to bring you the very best that the land and sea has to offer, check them out below and give them your support.



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