Fish and Smoke Shed, Colyton, EX24 6LS

An evening of all things fish and shellfish

It has been a long desire of mine to do a fish demo session. Having an open plan shop I often get asked about preparing fish and shellfish by customers. Most are curious and intrigued but some are really keen to have a go and this week I hosted an evening fish event – a trial run for two lovely friends but also an essential practice before I host paying customers in the coming weeks.

So, it was aprons and cut-proof gloves on, filleting knives sharpened and chopping boards at the ready.

After introductions first fish up was a Lyme Bay, line caught Pollack to be filleted and pin boned. It is almost as difficult teaching someone who has never filleted a fish before in their life as it is for them to actually do it. Explaining the physiology and bone structure of the fish helps but, of course, every species of fish is different. But, they did it ( to be honest much better than some Masterchef  contestants ) and to little squeals of excitement they had 2 fillets of Pollack sat in front of them that they had filleted.

Next up was a Plaice, the popular orange spotted flat fish and being flat – as opposed to a round fish such as Pollack, Bream, Hake etc – presented a completely different challenge. However, patience prevailed and after a short while we had 2 Plaice fillets on the boards – and more squeals! 

I then showed them a couple other preparations – a large Brill filleted into 4 fillets and then how to split and dress a cooked Lobster – we couldn't resist trying a bit of the lobster, a real treat for all. 

Onto shellfish and cutting a Scallop from its shell – this is normally done at great speed as you have hundreds to do so step by step required. Firstly, get the bottom shell off before removing the frills and guts and then cutting the Scallop meat from the bottom shell. This was picked up really quickly so we did quite a few to the delight of the guests.

Lastly it was a brown crab each to tackle – no hammers required just a picker and back of a big knife.

The guests loved this crab picking – from separating the shell from body, removing the bits you can't eat, removing legs and claws and then teasing out all that lovely, sweet white meat. Finally, back into the cleaned shell, brown separate from white and there you have it – a dressed crab.

The guest were rightly chuffed with their efforts of the evening as well as having gleaned all sorts of fishy information from me throughout the evening.

We closed the evening with a chilled glass of white wine and shared a pan fried Brill fillet. Cracking.