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When people think of Scottish food they immediately think of Haggis, whisky, deep fried Mars bars with lashings of Irn Bru. That maybe the comedians view of Scotland diet but the truth is some of the best food and the best chefs in the world.
Being part an island we have access to the best seafood and can be bought directly from the harbour, those living on the east coast of Scotland you are not far from fresh seafood and not forgetting the seaweed and most under-rated sea food.
Being part an island we have access to the best seafood and can be bought directly from the harbour all of the areas around Scotland for the sea food has a watch word of sustainable and those who risk their lives to bring us our seafood all believe that sustainability for the future generations is extremely important and allowing the increase of fish stock and shellfish. For those living on the east coast of Scotland are not far from fresh seafood and not forgetting the seaweed the
most under-rated sea food, which you can find in delicious ice cream.
Scotland is famous for its seafood especially Cullen Skink which is a thick Scottish soup made of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions and the famous Arbroath Smokie, the hot smoke un-filleted haddock eaten hot or cold you will have never tasted anything as good as a good Smokie which now cannot be called a Arbroath Smokie if it has not been smoked in and around Arbroath, there are a selection of producers of the Smokie in Arbroath and the traditional way they produce it makes sure that the taste is the same every time.
The Smokie originated in Auchmithie a former cliff top fishing village 3 miles north east of Arbroath and the story of the Smokie changes slightly. A few generations has it a store caught fire one night, destroying barrels of haddock preserved in salt. The following morning, the people found some of the barrels had caught fire, cooking the haddock inside. Inspection revealed the haddock to be quite tasty. It is much more likely the villagers were of Scandinavian descent, as the 'Smokie making' process is similar to smoking methods which are still employed in areas of Scandinavia and the rest is history or so they say but whichever way you cannot miss out on a Smokie, many of the smoke houses will vacuum pack on a few days’ notice for you to take home.
The next of Scotland’s food harvested from the sea is the Langoustine it’s also know under a few other names ‘Norway lobster, Dublin Bay prawn, Scampi’ whatever it’s called it’s a tasty crustacean many of the seafood restaurants will serve it or you can buy them fresh and pop it onto a BBQ with lemon juice – You will find that it taste nothing like the supermarket breaded ‘scampi’ You will find a succulent, sweet and enjoyable seafood.
Looking for something that has the history of Scotland with something very healthy they you must try Herring, eaten for its taste and its oil-rich ﬁsh that’s full of omega-3 fatty acids, also know by the name of 'Silver Darlings'. In the 19th century many women during the height of the Herring boom would travel from the Scottish isles as far down as Yarmouth gutting and packing Herring into large barrels of salt, these women some as young as 14 years old many mother and daughters would follow the fishing fleet many of them with husbands and sons netting for Herring. The story of one of these women is told as a work of fiction in the book 'Silver Darlings' 1941 novel by Neil M. Gunn
In the 19th century the British Government would give bounty of £3.00 per ton to owners of herring boats larger than 60 tons, plus a bounty on all herring sold abroad. Herring was a delicacy on the Continent and was caught relatively easily off the Coast of Scotland - off the East Coast during winter and spring, off the North Coast of Scotland and Shetland during the summer months and, in the autumn, off the Coast of East Anglia. At this time, there were as many as 30,000 vessels involved in herring fishing the East Coast, not to mention others in the Irish Sea. As the century progressed, the numbers continued to grow until the Scottish fishing industry became the largest in Europe. So you can imagine that the over fishing of the stock leading to the restriction on the fishing of Herring. Once the core of the Scottish ﬁshing industry, herring stocks came near to collapse in the 1970s and are now monitored carefully to ensure that they are sustainable.
Herring made into kippers were a typical breakfast for the upper classes and served with butter and toast, they are also made in to Roll Mop Herrings Rollmops are usually bought ready-to-eat, in jars or tubs. The brine additionally consists of water, white vinegar, and salt; it may also contain sugar or other sweetening agents, onion rings, peppercorns and mustard seeds. Rollmops can be eaten cold, without unrolling, or on bread. Herring rolled in oats and fried in a little butter makes for a delicious meal with a touch of lemon juice or a selection of mustards.
One of the most common of the seafood is crab, which for some is a love hate relationship, the sweet tasting meat and the fun you can have with a hair grip inside the claw and with a twist out comes the meat. All the fish mongers will dress a crab for you as it can be a little messy and when it comes to the main body trying to not get the good and bad mixed. Eating out at seafood restaurants you will possible find crab in a pate, a soup, as a starter. If you have never tried crab give it a try you may be pleasantly surprised.
Staying with the crustaceans local caught lobsters which can normally buy live from the harbour wall or from one of the fish mongers, if you don’t wish to do the ‘deed’ then you can buy fresh cooked and like the crab if you not sure how to cut up a lobster then your fish monger will do it for you but the main part to eat is the tail. If you buy them fresh uncooked when the water has reached boiling point, lower the heat and simmer the lobster for around 15 minutes for the first 450g. Simmer for a further 10 minutes for each extra 450g, up to a maximum of 40 minutes. When the lobster is cooked, its shell will turn a deep brick red. Lobster with hot butter or cold with lemon mayonnaise. You can also serve with a tossed green salad, chips, boiled or baked potatoes, grilled corn on the cob and bread rolls.
Next fish up is Mackerel, which is one of the most popular of the only fish, like the Herring it contains the fatty acid Omega 3 many of the Mackerel is line caught which unlike netting the fishermen are not catching other species so it’s a very specific and the catching of Mackerel is closely monitored. Fresh mackerel is available from January to March and October to November it is also smoked and can be found all year around as well as turned into pate or vacuumed packed, but if you can get it fresh or smoked its tasty cold with a salad, the pate on a Scottish oat biscuit or toast.
Back to the shells and one of your hosts favourite of shellfish is the Mussel which in Scotland the majority of Mussels you can find in Scotland are farmed, in lochs and they water is of high standard. The Mussel farmer places spore onto ropes hanging down from buoys and left to take hold, they are not feed but allowed to feed on the natural occurring plankton. Your host cooks the Mussels in garlic butter, wash them make sure that there are not threads and then cook for up to 5 minutes making sure that all are open, if any are closed discard. It has always been a tasty food and its low cost that can be enjoyed by all.
Finally for seafood and that the Scallop very tasty seafood but cooking it if you are not used to them can easily be over cooked leaving them tough. The shell must be around 110mm not any small as that makes them under sized, to open them it’s called ‘shuck’ this can be difficult and may end up injuring yourself so either ask the fish monger or buy them out their shells. To cook a hot pan with a little oil, sunflower or rape seed and drop them in for a few minutes until they become translucent serve with butter and a squeeze of lemon.