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What is the best UK cookbook for fish and seafood?
October 12, 2011 4:14 AM   Subscribe

What is the best UK cookbook for fish and seafood?

I'm an experienced cook but hardly ever cook fish so I am after something that both covers the basics and provides interesting and more advanced recipes. There is a lot out there and I'm not sure where to start.

I've seen a couple of previous threads on this topic but all from an American perspective. I'm specifically after a British book so no recommendations for Mark Bittman's Fish: The Complete Guide to Buying and Cooking please.
posted by ninebelow to Food & Drink (13 answers total)
 
The River Cottage Fish Book
posted by SueDenim at 4:38 AM on October 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I still use Jane Grigson's Fish Cookery, which (despite being the apparent source of the myth that you must throw away mussels that remain unopened after cooking) is authoritative, diverse and clearly written. I believe that the updated edition is sold as 'Jane Grigson's Fish Book', and is reasonably priced.
posted by howfar at 4:42 AM on October 12, 2011


Rick Stein's Seafood is also good.
posted by crocomancer at 4:46 AM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the suggestions.

despite being the apparent source of the myth that you must throw away mussels that remain unopened after cooking

Is this not true then? I have seen this absolutely everywhere, including in recipes from extremely well regarded chefs.
posted by ninebelow at 5:03 AM on October 12, 2011


I also like Rick Stein's book. It covers the technical basics (selecting fish, knives, etc.) and the recipes are mostly very accessible (apart from his recipe for Shark Vindaloo, which is fun, but insane). It also has a cool page about how to peel the skin off an eel using hooks and gravity, because, well, you never know.
posted by caek at 5:17 AM on October 12, 2011


Robin Moxon of the eponymous London fishmongers recommended Kate Whiteman's New Fish Cooking Encyclopaedia to me. The Clapham South branch certainly had a browsing copy available for customers, maybe the others do too.
Not the cheapest available but you do get c.400 recipes.
posted by Dr.Pill at 5:25 AM on October 12, 2011


Rick Stein's book is good.

I'd avoid mussels that don't open after cooking. Not because they may poison you, but because they are sometimes empty shells filled with sand. They pass the 'float' test before cooking because they're heavy, and you won't find out until you open them. Not gonna kill you, but messy, inedible, and inconvenient.

We live on the coast and eat mussels we collect locally about once a week, cooking ~40 a time. It's happened to me a couple of times. Once, I opened one to find it was actually filled with baby mussels that must have come in through a crack and started developing inside! Freaky.
posted by Cuppatea at 5:31 AM on October 12, 2011


Books by Rick Stein and HFW are both good. But for what it's worth, James Peterson's "Fish and Shellfish" is so much better than either as a manual to actually handling and cooking fish that its US-nature is transcended. After all, to a first approximation and round fish is a round fish and a flatfish is a flatfish. Unless you're into lamprey we have pretty normal seafood, at least anatomically.
posted by cromagnon at 8:49 AM on October 12, 2011


I was just showing my uncle how AskMeFi works, he saw your question and although it's not from the UK, insisted that I post Madame Prunier's Fish Cookery Book. So there you go.
posted by seriousmoonlight at 2:08 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this not true then? I have seen this absolutely everywhere, including in recipes from extremely well regarded chefs.

It seems to appear nowhere in the literature before Grigson's Fish Cookery, and was pretty much universal within a decade of publication. It's probably due to the fact that the book is so well researched in every other particular. The inevitable problem with any authority, I suppose. The point is that if it's alive before cooking, whether it opens during cooking is neither here nor there, as you can't get any fresher.

I'd avoid mussels that don't open after cooking. Not because they may poison you, but because they are sometimes empty shells filled with sand. They pass the 'float' test before cooking because they're heavy.


This is a good point. I'm generally overcautious when if comes to shellfish, and check every mussel for signs of vitality before cooking. I suspect I'm disposing of the same mussels as you, just earlier in the process.
posted by howfar at 4:25 PM on October 12, 2011


Couldn't sleep, found the source for the mussel thing.

Mussel myth an open and shut case

posted by howfar at 6:37 PM on October 12, 2011


Thanks for all answers (and mussel info!). I gave best answer to the ones that were readily available to me but will explore the others in future.
posted by ninebelow at 6:17 AM on October 13, 2011


Leith's Fish Bible is pretty comprehensive and might be worth a look.
posted by Atom12 at 6:30 AM on October 13, 2011


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