Chefs must throw tiddlers back at suppliers, urges Jim Cowie
May 03 2012 Lewis Smith
At 4 inches long, should these razor clams have been left in the sea?
Love thy fish and don’t be afraid to throw it back at the supplier if it doesn’t meet decent standards of care and respect, says Jim Cowie.
The owner of The Captain’s Galley in Scrabster is appalled that suppliers are sometimes willing to provide undersized seafood that has clearly been caught before it has a chance to reach sexual maturity.
Such an approach, he says, echoes concerns about suppliers expressed by Mark Hix at the inaugural Fish2fork Chefs’ Club lunch, and he urges his fellow chefs to make it clear that they won’t tolerate deliveries of undersized or inferior quality seafood: “We should make a stand, refuse to accept them and there should be no exceptions to that rule. Mark Hix was absolutely right. But there just don’t seem to be enough of us saying it.
“I have a photograph here of razor clams from a recognised and well-established seafood supplier,” he says. “The whole fish were 4 inches long and the fruit was two inches long.
“We should be looking at razor clams of at least 7-8 inches – around double the size that I got. It’s so disappointing. “I phoned the supplier and said it’s really quite offensive to send me undersized razor clams. Nobody has the right to deny the next generation all the wonderful seafood we get now.
“It’s the same when you open up a box and find that the razor clams are scattered all over it mixed up with mussels and oysters and surf clams swilling in their own juices. It’s shameful; we are talking about living creatures here.
“My philosophy with every fish I use, it must be mature, non-pressure stock species from sustainable stocks. Allow them to make their contribution to the future stocks, and then and only then, we can enjoy them.
“As chefs we should simply ask ourselves “what are our standards and what do we want for our customers. If want to serve the best food, then we have to start off with the best raw material. Always remember, it’s possible to make good fish bad, but nobody can make bad fish good.”
For Mr Cowie the only way to package live razor clams is to put rubber bands round them to keep them shut, wrap them in (preferably) newspaper soaked in seawater, if it’s a sealed box, well iced, punch air holes to enable them to breath, keep them cool at all times. "Just show them a bit of love and respect, and you will be rewarded for your efforts."
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