Quality of Scottish seafood makes it clear choice for menus
HAVING fresh seafood on a menu can help restaurateurs create a real point of difference for their outlet.
That was the message from chefs and suppliers across Scotland as they extolled the virtues of the country’s aquatic larder.
Seafood is something of a speciality for Carla Lamont, owner of Ninth Wave Restaurant on the Isle of Mull.
The Canadian is married to a Scottish fisherman and recently completed a cookery book on seafood, which will be published later in the year.
“Scottish seafood is known as the best in Britain,” she said.
“Even restaurants in London import their lobsters and things from Scotland.”
And the chef warned that pubs, restaurants and bars across Scotland may need to raise their game this year as the country caters for an influx of tourists from across the globe.
“I think a lot of people are going to have to get on it as far as sourcing is concerned,” said Carla.
But it’s not just customers from overseas that are looking for fresh, locally-sourced food.
Eddie Kwok of Eddie’s Seafood Market in Edinburgh said provenance has become increasingly important to consumers across Scotland.
“Nowadays, consumers want to know exactly where the food on their plate comes from, and want to support local produce, which is fantastic,” he said.
“Restaurants are pushing to support local businesses more than ever, aiming to serve meals with locally sourced ingredients.
“But also, foreign imports can be very expensive and environmentally damaging.”
Derek Marshall, owner of Glasgow seafood restaurant Gamba, said provenance is crucial to the quality of the product.
“Local food tastes better because it’s fresher,” said Derek.
“We always take the time to educate our staff and customers about the different seafood available throughout the year whether it be why we choose Scottish lobster over Canadian or farmed Isle of Gigha halibut over wild.”
Making the most of seafood will depend on several factors, including using the right supplier, according to Craig Wood, chef proprietor of The Wee Restaurant in North Queensferry.
“We use a couple of different suppliers at the restaurant,” he said.
“You are putting your faith in their judgement on selecting the very best catch for you. Their contacts at the market, vehicles for transportation, packaging and handling of the seafood are all important to ensuring the customer gets the freshest dish.”
It’s also important not to store fresh seafood for too long, said Janne Johansson, managing director at Mussel Inn, who operates restaurants in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
“The short shelf-life of seafood means that it should be served as soon as practicably possible to ensure that it is as fresh as possible,” said Janne.
“Preparation should be kept simple so as not to disguise the fantastic flavours.”
And in terms of preparing the dishes, Alex Grahame of seafood restaurant Hornblowers in Gourdon, near Montrose, said the trick is “not to overcomplicate everything”.
“We keep everything very simple; a few ingredients in every dish, and just let the freshness of the seafood speak for itself,” said Alex.
“Chefs don’t have to be overly ‘cheffy’. Just let the seafood be the star of the show.”