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Whats Fresh

These are the species that are fished in the Kent and Essex waters. The most sustainable way to eat fish is to buy what is caught locally and is in season. If you are unsure, you can always ask your fishmonger for a recommendation.

Silver Shore Herring

In season : October to May

Silver Shore Herring are very special to Kent & Essex (you can see some of the work we've been doing on our Herring project here). Silver Shore herring, so called because it is caught by the local fleet in view of the shore, is best tried in December before it shoots its roe. Smaller than the North Sea Herring, it is normally caught using drift nets. One of the healthiest and most sustainable species in the district you can try it prepared in lots of different ways. Smoked and kippered for breakfast or lightly pickled so that the bones dissolve and you are left with a meaty and rewarding meal. 

Dover Sole

In season : March - January

Whilst you will get local Dover sole most of the year, its best to eat them once they have fattened up in June, July and August, before they spawn. These fish taste delicious when grilled with butter. Dover sole are generally caught using bottom set drift nets and by trawlers in Kent and Essex.

You can ask your fishmonger to skin it as the meat comes away from the bones once cooked. Generally one fish per person but you can normally choose your size.

Sea Bass

In season : TBC

230-250g per portion prepared, a whole fish will serve at least four people

Skate

In season : TBC

Also known locally as Thornback Ray, skate/ray wings are typically trimmed into slim triangular portions or chunkier fillets from thicker parts of the wing. Buy with the skin removed. Skate/ray species can be an area for caution in terms of sustainability generally – your fishmonger can advise but in Kent & Essex Thornback Rays are in good numbers.

Skate is cartilaginous meaning it has no small bones, so is a good option for nervous fish eaters. It has a sweetish taste and is best cooked much like sole with simple flavours – butter, lemon and light seasoning. Skate gives off an ammonia smell when it stops being fresh enough.


 

Plaice

In season : TBC

One fish trimmed should feed one person generously. Plaice is a flat fish with distinctive orange spots and is good roasted whole


 

Smooth Hound

In season : Feb - May

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Cockles

In season : TBC

In Kent & Essex, cockles are an MSC accredited fishery and widely regarded as one of the best managed fisheries in the country. The local cockle industry is a flagship species in the area and is a big part of the coastal economy. Cockles aren’t often used as a main dish in themselves but can be cooked just like mussels. For pickling or as an accompaniment, 1kg of whole cockles for 4 people. As the star, 500g of whole cockles per person

 

 


 

Mussels

In season : TBC

Mussels are common all around the coast of Kent & Essex but should be avoided between May to August. Clean and debeard the mussels – they may be sandy and will need to be soaked and rinsed a couple of times. Make sure the mussels you buy are tightly closed. If you have any that are open, give them a tap and they should close, and if not discard them. Similarly, if a mussel doesn’t open during cooking, discard it. These simple rules also apply to cockles and clams. 500g of whole mussels per person


 

Whiting

In season : August - February

Best tried in November or December, whiting is sometimes seen as a nuisance fish but its larger specimens can offer up a worthy cod-like meal. A whole whiting weighing 450g will feed one person cooked whole or filleted but are especially useful in a fish pie.


 

Scallops

In season : October - May

Scallops are best tried in the winter, November and December. Caught from Folkestone harbour going south past Dungeness Point using Scallop dredges. Amazingly, a startled scallop will move astound the seabed by opening and shutting their shell! They are prepared by removing them from the shell and are often pan fried. They should be moist, sweet-smelling and 3-5 scallops should provide an ample serving.

Lobster

In season : April - October

Lobster in Kent & Essex is in its prime in June, July and August. Found anywhere where there is broken ground, it is mainly caught using parlour pots. Follow your recipe, but if serving lobster alone as a main, allow a whole 500-600g lobster per person.

A ready cooked lobster, halved and cleaned is the easiest option and your fishmonger can provide these.


 

Lemon Sole

In season : May - September

Lemon Sole are best in the summer months and are mostly targeted by trawlers in the English Channel. Recognised for what looks like a slice of lemon around its gills, a 400-450g (1lb) fish will make a main course serving for one. 

The lemon sole is technically not a sole but a flounder, should this come up in a pub quiz. It has softer flakes and a more subtle flavour than Dover sole (and is cheaper) but rewards a similar, very simple, cooking.