Understanding fish: what can you tell about a fish by its colour?

salmon on ice

When you’re breaking open a deep-fried piece of battered cod, plunging your knife into a pan-fried salmon fillet or preparing a tuna steak before grilling it, one of the first things that strikes you about the fish in front of you is its colour. Whether it’s white, pink or red, you can tell a lot about a fish simply by looking at the brightness and richness of its flesh.

If you want to know what the colour of a fish signifies about its nutritional content and its lifestyle then read on.

The types of fish we sell can be divided into two groups: white fish (cod and haddock, for example) and oily fish (such as tuna, salmon, mackerel).

The former are demersal fish, named after the zone they inhabit, above the seabed. There, they are largely unaffected by tidal currents or the weather, preferring to live a sedentary life and feeding when the opportunity comes their way. Since they don’t roam the seas like other fish, their appetite is proportionately smaller. Demersal fish have enough energy to evade predators but insufficient stamina to stay on the go for long periods of time.

The oil within white fish is mostly stored in the liver. While most white fish livers are hard to stomach – hence the popularity of cod liver oil supplements – there are some, mullet and turbot for example, which are prized by chefs.

Oily fish, on the other hand, are pelagic, swimming as far as their energy levels will carry them, both horizontally and vertically up and down the water column. Pelagic fish never really stop, moving in shoals, hunting food and avoiding becoming food. Therefore they need a plentiful supply of energy.

This energy runs throughout their bodies in the form of oil, with concentrations of oil in different parts of the body, hence the variation in the colour of the flesh along a salmon’s backbone and the flesh on its underside. The darker the flesh, the greater the layering of fat within. It’s an energy store which the fish builds up in summer when food is plentiful and burn off when it’s more scarce.

At the extreme end of this colour spectrum lies tuna, the most restless of all fish – there are records of tuna covering two million miles in their lifetime. Its flesh is red because it is saturated with blood and oils, hence the skyscraping nutritional benefits of eating tuna and the world record £2.5m paid by sushi tycoon Kiyoshi Kimura recently for a 278kg bluefin tuna.

You can only imagine how much Mr Kimura will have to charge to recoup even a fraction of his costs. If you’re looking for tasty tuna at a more affordable price, try our yellowfin tuna – not, unlike bluefin tuna, an endangered species.

One last point to make: white fish might be lazy and contain lower levels of omega-3 than oily fish, but they more than make up it by being a terrific source of protein while being low in fat.

We don’t believe in discriminating against either white or oily fish – the simple, well-proven truth is that a diet featuring good amounts of either is far better than a diet featuring none.

Five reasons to eat fish in winter

Winter is a tough season for those of us in the United Kingdom. The days are short and it’s frequently so miserable outside that you have little choice but to linger indoors, however much you love being outside.

Surviving the season can be even harder for those who toil in offices or other workplaces where the interior and outside temperatures can vary hugely, their immune systems besieged at every turn by bugs and bacteria determined to suck every last drop of energy out of their human prey.

With daily life either a full-on struggle or simply a pain in the neck for several months of the year, it’s no wonder most of us turn to food that takes the edge off our discomfort.

The problem is that such fare rarely provides our bodies with the nutrition we need most at this time of year, hence the almost inevitable winter weight gain and increased susceptibility to flu, colds and low mood.

Enter, then, a superfood that won’t guarantee you make it through the dark months but will definitely give you a fighting chance of entering spring with a reasonably strong constitution and a feeling of greater wellbeing than if you had simply given in to your instincts and wolfed down plate after plate of stodge for months on end.

Fish is your friend at this time of year more than any other. Here are five reasons why.

1. Eating fish protects your heart

Heart disease is one of the biggest killers in the western world and winter puts extra pressure on your heart. Offset decreased activity levels and the associated dangers to cardiovascular health such as increased blood pressure – a leading cause of heart attack and stroke – and furring of the arteries by eating fish that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids at least twice a week. Our top three recommendations are salmon, mackerel and scallops.   

2. Eating fish protects your mental health

In the past decade or two seasonal affective disorder – or SAD – has blossomed from a theory into a reality acknowledged by doctors and psychologists. Decreased hours of daylight allied to the weakness of the sun mean most of us suffer from a deficiency of vitamin D, a major contributing factor to the low mood experienced by many people in northern Europe in winter. While you can buy vitamin D in supplement form your body absorbs far greater amounts of vitamin D when the source is fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, all of which are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids which not only boost cardiovascular health (see above) but are also proven to enhance emotional health.

3. Eating fish protects your lungs

There’s no doubt that the lungs are one of the most vulnerable parts of the body in winter, being prone to colds, flu and other respiratory infections. Omega-3 fatty acids help increase the airflow to the lungs, so upping your intake of fish such as salmon and mackerel will help you fight off the bugs that are all too familiar to those who either have young children or work in air-conditioned offices – or, worse still, tick both boxes.

4. Eating fish protects your skin

Cold weather plays havoc with your skin, whether directly or indirectly – for example, when you enter a warm supermarket or restaurant after walking through the streets on a cold night. Extremes of temperature are not conducive to healthy skin. That’s where smoked salmon can play a defensive role, as it’s rich in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are incorporated into the skin’s top layer to help build a barrier that prevents your skin drying out.

5. Eating fish helps fight symptoms of arthritis

Arthritis affects many people more in winter than in warmer months, and anyone who experiences joint or muscle pain on a regular basis knows how debilitating it can be. Our old ally omega-3 fatty acids help combat such conditions by lowering inflammation and reducing arthritis symptoms. The more salmon, mackerel, tuna and other omega-3-rich fish you eat, the stronger your defence against joint pain and inflammation. 

Of course, eating fish is also a terrific way of upping your intake of minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, calcium, niacin and selenium as well as vitamins A, B12 and D. And let’s not forget the high protein content of most fish.

Put simply, fish is your friend all year round, but especially so during winter. There’s no need to completely avoid your favourite comfort foods during the long, dark nights – who can resist a good stew or sticky toffee pudding? – but introducing more oily fish into your diet will help keep the worst effects of winter at bay.

How to cook seafood on the barbecue

We’ve seen how fish cooked on a barbecue can make a great addition to your summer gatherings, whether it’s for a convivial lunch or an al fresco dinner. But you can also cook a variety of seafood on the barbecue, such as oysters, prawns, mussels or scallops.

Cooking oysters on the barbecue

Yes, that’s right. Oysters are delicious raw but you can also enjoy them cooked.

If necessary, start by scrubbing the oyster shells with a soft bristled brush in cold water. Place the oysters on the grill, flat side up, and leave them for 8-10 minutes or until the shells start to pop open. Carefully remove all oysters from the grill, even the ones that haven’t opened, using a fireproof mitt or tongs.

Completely shuck all oysters and add any sauce you’d like (a squeeze of lemon juice works wonders).

Cooking prawns on the barbecue

Cooking prawns on the barbecue is quick and easy. Just make sure your barbecue is very hot so you can quickly brown the prawns without overcooking them.

If you purchased whole prawns, start by removing the shells and de-veining them. Lightly season the prawns and brush them with a little oil before placing them on a skewer. Put the skewers on the hottest part of the grill and leave until the prawns have coloured. Turn them over and cook for a couple more minutes. Remove from the heat, let the prawns cool a little then serve.

Cooking mussels on the barbecue

If necessary, start by cleaning the mussels with a brush and some cold water. Place your mussels in a roasting tray with a matching lid (you can use tinfoil so long as you make sure to close the parcel tightly so that no steam can escape). Season the mussels and drizzle with a little oil before placing them on the barbecue for 8-10 minutes. The mussels will be ready to eat when most of them have opened. Discard any mussels that didn’t open before serving.

Cooking scallops on the barbecue

A great way to cook scallops on the barbecue is to skewer them with vegetables or even prawns.

Start by marinating your scallops in an oil-based marinade for 10-15 minutes. You can use your favourite herbs and spices such as garlic, paprika or basil. Place the scallops on skewers with any other ingredients of your choice or on their own. Remember that if you’re using wooden skewers, you need to soak them in water for an hour before cooking. Place the scallops skewers on your barbecue and cook for 8 minutes, turning halfway through. You can brush the scallops with more marinade while cooking.

How to cook fish on the barbecue

Barbecueing is the ultimate way to share good times with friends and family and enjoy tasty food. Adding fish to the mix can make your BBQ extra special and can be very rewarding if you know a few tricks to make sure your barbecued fish is a success.

Ideally, you should use a mesh-type grill so you can cook more delicate fish easily. If you don’t have such a grill then you can cook the fish in tinfoil.

Be sure to oil your fish before placing it on the grill so it doesn’t stick. A clean grill will also help prevent the fish from sticking to it.

How to cook fish fillets on the BBQ

If you want to cook fish fillets directly on the grill, choose firm-fleshed fish that can stand the heat without falling apart, such as salmon, monkfish or halibut. To cook more delicate fish such as seabass or lemon sole, wrap the fillets in foil with a bit of liquid and some herbs and spices. It will steam the fish and keep it moist.

You can also use fillets to make fish skewers or fish burgers, which often helps to make it more appealing for young children.

How to cook whole fish on the BBQ

You can also choose to cook fish whole. This style of serving makes for an impressive main course and helps keep the fish moist and flavourful. You can also stuff whole fish, which is a great way to add flavour.

One way to cook whole fish is to use a fish basket, which consists of two metal grids that ‘sandwich’ the fish and helps the stuffing stay inside. It also produces a crispy skin. If you don’t own a fish basket, you can wrap your whole fish in foil. It won’t have a crispy skin but the flesh will be wonderfully moist.

Seasoning fish for BBQ

Try marinating your fish – something as simple as a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a few herbs can work wonders. Classic flavours usually suit barbecued fish quite well: garlic, lemon, basil, thyme or chilli. Try to avoid flavours that will overpower the fish and mask its taste. You can also use flavoured butters or side sauces.

Sides to serve with barbecued fish

Grilled vegetables complement fish cooked on a BBQ. Try Mediterranean veg such as courgettes, tomatoes, aubergine or bell peppers. You can also serve light salads as a side dish. If you prefer something more substantial, serve your fish with rice or roast potatoes.

Health Benefits of White Fish

The NHS recommends eating at least 2 portions of fish a week, including a portion of oily fish. We’ve previously covered the health benefits of oily fish such as salmon but white fish (such as cod, haddock, halibut, sole, etc) shouldn’t be ignored! If white fish is great because it’s so versatile, it also has many health benefits and is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Helps fight inflammation

White fish is a great source of vitamin B6, which helps fight inflammation in the body. Vitamin B6 can help reduce pain caused by inflammation-related illnesses such as asthma and arthritis, but everyone can benefit from it.

Supports the immune system

White fish is also a good source of vitamin B3, which is known to boost the immune system and can help recover from infections faster. Who knew your fish dinner could help fight colds?

Helps to keep your bones strong

White fish is high in phosphorus, which plays an essential part in maintaining bone structure and density. Eating white fish on a regular basis could then help keep your bones healthy and strong, helping prevent conditions such as osteoporosis.

Supports nervous system and blood cells health

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin for the healthy function of the nervous system as well as blood cells health. Consuming white fish as part of a balanced diet is a great way to get vitamin B12.

Low in LDL Cholesterol

There are 2 types of cholesterol: LDL (the ‘bad cholesterol’) and SDL (the ‘good cholesterol’). White fish is low in LDL cholesterol which can help you keep your cholesterol levels in check!

Low-fat source of protein

If you’re trying to lose weight or generally stay healthy, white fish can be a great food to include in your diet! It’s low in fat and high in protein. Protein can help you feel fuller and is also an essential part of building muscles.

These are only some of the main health benefits of white fish – there are many other benefits associated with the regular consumption of white fish including brain health and eye health.

White fish also contains omega-3 fatty acids but at much lower levels than oily fish, which is why a balanced diet should include both white, oily fish and shellfish, so you can get a wide array of vitamins and minerals.

Want to get started? We’ve got plenty of recipes and cooking tips on our blog!

How to Defrost Prawns: 3 Safe Methods

Prawns are delicate and are often frozen in order to preserve their freshness. Unless you have direct access to the sea, it might be a good option to choose frozen prawns.

Because we only want the freshest products and the best quality for our customers, this is why prawns are the ONLY product we sell frozen.

black tiger prawns

Like all frozen products, it is very important to carefully defrost prawns in order to keep the quality and freshness of this beautiful seafood. Here are methods you can try.

Defrost Prawns in the Refrigerator

Defrosting products in the refrigerator is always the safest method, but requires that you plan your meal ahead because prawns will need about 8 hours to fully defrost in the refrigerator. Transfer the prawns to an airtight container and place in the refrigerator. Once defrosted, rinse the prawns with cold water before cooking them.

Defrost Prawns in Cold Water

Take the prawns out of the freezer and place them in a large colander. Place it in running water (make sure the water is cold) for a few minutes, moving the prawns so they can evenly defrost. Do NOT use warm water as this will unevenly defrost the prawns and can even start cooking the outside.

prawns

Defrost Prawns in Cold Briny Water

Prepare a container with enough water to cover all your prawns and add salt: 2 tablespoons of salt for 4 cups of water. Mix well and place the prawns in the container (removing them from their packaging). Wait for 15-20 minutes until all prawns are defrosted, regularly moving the prawns if needed. Once defrosted, drain the liquid, rinse the prawns with cold water and you can start cooking!

Prawns are quick an easy way to add protein to your salads, pasta, stews… They can also be enjoyed as a simple & healthy appetiser or on toast for a quick snack!

prawns on toast

Check out our cooking tips and prawns recipes for more inspiration!

How to Cure Salmon

Curing is a technique that is used to preserve fish or meat. The most commonly used method is a dry cure but an alternative would be to use an acidic marinade such as in a ceviche recipe. Cured fish is also sometimes known as gravlax.

gravlax

Salmon and other oily fish are better for curing due to the high-fat content. Not only does curing help preserve the fish in top quality, it can also be used to add flavour! Curing fish is very easy to do yourself and the flavour combinations are endless. Here’s how to do it.

1.Prepare the base of your curing mix by mixing sugar and salt in equal quantities. Make sure there are enough to cover all the fish fillets you want to cure.

2.Add your choice of seasonings. Make sure to grind and crush any whole dry spices you want to use. You can use things like lemon or lime zest, coriander seeds, chilli flakes…Anything you like!

3.Rub the dry cure mix all over the salmon fillets, making sure that all sides are generously covered.

Curing salmon4.Place in a dish and cover in cling film to cure in the fridge for anywhere between 1 and 24 hours. The longer you leave the salmon in the dry cure mix, the stronger the flavours will be so it’s up to how strong you would like your fish.

5.Take the salmon out of the fridge and rinse thoroughly in cold water to remove the excess mix. Pat dry and the fish is ready to be eaten as it is in thin slices, or ready to be baked, grilled or poached!

cured salmon slices

Our tip: For a simple way to enjoy cured salmon, top your favourite bread or cracker with a bit of cream cheese, fresh herbs and finish with the salmon!

Cured Salmon on Bread

How to cook tuna steaks

Our Tuna is a sushi-grade fish, which means it can safely be eaten raw as sushi, ceviche or tartare! However, if raw tuna is not your thing, our tuna steaks can easily be cooked using the method you prefer.

Preparing your tuna before cooking

Our Tuna steaks are cut and ready to cook. There is no need to rinse the fish before cooking, just pat dry using kitchen towels.

Grilling tuna steaks

Before tuna steaks are thick and meaty, they are perfect for cooking on the BBQ, grill or pan. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side on medium-high heat so the outside is cooked but the tuna is still fresh in the middle, just like a medium-rare steak.

Baking tuna steak

If you prefer tuna cooked through, try baking it. Wrap the steaks in foil or parchment paper along with a drizzle of olive oil, some seasoning and your favourite veggies and cook for 10-15 minutes, until just cooked through and flaking easily.

Cooking tuna steaks in sauce

To prevent steaks from drying out, you can slowly simmer steaks in a sauce of your choice, for about 10 to 15 minutes. Try a tomato-based sauce with some basil or Italian herbs!

Defrosting Fish in the Microwave

Defrosting fish in the refrigerator or in cold water are ideal methods to thaw fish properly and preserve quality and freshness. However, if you’re really short on time you can always use your microwave defrost function.

<<Method 1: In the refrigerator

<<Method 2: In cold water

Method 3: In the microwave

Most microwaves now have a defrost function that can be used to quickly thaw food stored in the freezer. However, it’s very easy to overdo it and can be a method that’s more difficult to control. Microwaves being primarily designed for high heat, it’s a method we wouldn’t recommend unless you are very short on time.

Remove frozen fish from their bag or packaging and place in a microwave-safe dish. Use the defrost function of your microwave to thaw the fish for a few minutes.

 

It is difficult to give guidelines for defrosting times in the microwave as this will highly depend on both the thickness of the fish and the power and settings of your microwave.

Check on your fish often to make sure that it hasn’t started cooking. The fish will be properly defrosted when it is pliable but still feels icy to the touch. Make sure to cook the fish immediately after defrosting in the microwave.

You can find many recipes such as stews and soups that will be best for thawed fish. Some methods of cooking will be more appropriate such as poaching or baking – you can even sometimes cook fish from frozen!

How to Cook Salmon Fillets

Salmon is one of the most popular fish in the UK, if not in the world! It is part of the oily fish family and has many health benefits, including being good for heart health thanks to omega-3 fatty acids. It’s a delicious fish that can be cooked using a variety of methods.

How to Bake Salmon

Roasting salmon in the oven is one of the easiest ways to cook it and is perfect for weeknight dinners. Make sure salmon fillets are bone-free before starting. If you are buying salmon skin on, you can choose to remove the skin before cooking or leave it on.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius (or 180 fan). Place your fillets in a roasting tray, either on foil or baking paper and use kitchen towel to pat dry. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper (and any herbs or spices you like) before putting the tray in the oven. You can also use baking paper to form little parcels to place your salmon along with veggies. It keeps the fish moist and makes for an effortless dinner!

A good rule of thumb is to count 4 to 6 minutes per half-inch of thickness but it’s always best to keep an eye on your salmon fillets so that they don’t overcook. Generally, thick fillets can take 8 to 10 minutes. Salmon fillets are done when they are opaque and the flesh flakes easily.

How to Pan-Fry Salmon

Pan-frying is a method best suited for salmon fillets skin on, so you can achieve crispy skin and tender flesh. Before starting, pat dry your salmon fillets and season them with salt, pepper or any spices you prefer.

Bring a frying pan to a medium-high heat. Once hot, add enough oil so that the bottom of the pan is covered by a thin layer of oil. Carefully place your fillets on the pan, skin side down.

Do not move the fillets and let it cook for about 4 minutes per half-inch of thickness. The flesh gets pale when cooked, which can help you see where you are in the cooking process. When about 3/4 of the fillets are cooked, carefully flip over. Let the fish cook for another minute or two (depending on the thickness of the fillet) then remove from the pan and serve.

How to Poach Salmon Fillets

Poaching is a great way to cook salmon fillets and keep them moist while flavouring the fish at the same time. You can poach fish in just water, but our suggestion would be to use stock, milk or coconut milk to add some flavour.

Bring liquid to a simmer and carefully add your salmon fillets. Your fillets do not have to be covered by the liquid, in which case you just need to carefully flip fillets after 2-3 minutes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Poaching fish can take 5-7 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets. The flesh should easily flake when the salmon is cooked.

How to Steam Salmon Fillets (Without a steaming basket)

To steam salmon fillets when you don’t have a steaming basket, you can use a similar method to poaching. Use a pan with a matching lid and fill your pan with a small amount of water (half an inch). Place a heatproof plate or dish with your salmon fillets on the water (the water should not touch the fish) and cover with a lid. Cook for at least 5 minutes until the salmon is opaque.