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A Real Pea Souper

ISSUE 13 ARCHIVE - COOKING THE CATCH

Andrew Maxwell

Peas, Love and Crab Meat

By the time this edition of the magazine is printed, fresh peas might be out of season, but as a general rule frozen peas are actually a very good product too, so there is nothing wrong with using them.

This is one of my favourite combinations of flavours, crab and peas, it is a bowl full of fresh summer flavours.

For the soup:

  • 500g fresh peas (podded weight or frozen)
  • Salt and white pepper
  • 30g butter

For the crab

  • ½ red pepper, skinned, de-seeded and finely diced
  • 50g fresh peas (podded weight)
  • 20g black olives, finely diced
  • 5g basil leaves, shredded
  • 160g sustainable white crab meat (available from most good fish mongers and some supermarkets)
  • Zest and juice ½ lime
  • Zest and juice ½ lemon
  • 100ml crème fraiche
  • 5g chives, finely chopped

Suunto

Soup

Bring 1 litre of water to the boil, add salt and the peas. Cook until tender. In a liquidizer, blend the peas with enough cooking water to achieve the desired consistency, add the butter and blend until smooth. Pass the soup through a fine sieve and leave over ice to cool quickly.

Crab

Blanch the peas for 15 seconds in boiling salted water, refresh. Add the peas to the picked crab with the pepper, olives and basil. Mix the crème fraiche with the lemon and lime juice. Add the zest and chives.

To serve

Push the crab mixture into cooking rings in the centre of each soup plate (a round pastry cutter works well for this, but if you do not have either, then a spoonful of crab, placed neatly into the middle of the bowl will also work). Pour the ice cold soup around the outside of the crab and top it with a small amount of crème fraiche.

The Ultimate Guide to Buying Sustainable Fish

For those of you who have followed my articles over the years, you'll know I love a rant. My soap box is a treasured possession, but I'm feeling quite calm and content with life right now, so in this edition, I'm putting together some information that I hope will be of genuine use to those of us who love to look at fish when we dive, but are also partial to the odd fish finger sandwich.

I often find myself morally torn between my love of diving and my love of food – the two don't always go hand in hand, (except of course for the culinary magnificence that is the bacon and egg sandwich at Wraysbury). For those of you who share this view, here is some information that will help you buy fish, safe in the knowledge that you are not helping to ruin the very habitat that forms the foundation of your favourite pastime.
Diving Leisure London

Five simple principles to keep in mind when you're shopping

  1. Do some research. Find out how sustainable your chosen fish is. If you discover that the species in question should be avoided, then look for substitutes (pollack for cod, lemon sole for Dover, bream for bass, etc). Champion the more sustainable species and boycott those most under threat.
  2. Question your fishmonger or read the back of the packet, to make sure you know as much about it as you can. Try to find out where the fish came from and what method was used to catch it. Favour fish and shellfish caught in the inshore fishery by local day boats.
  3. Support eco labelling schemes;
    a. Marine Stewardship Council, eco-label for certified environmentally responsible fisheries (msc.org) b. Soil Association Organic Certification for Farmed Fish (soilassociation. org) c. Tagged line-caught mackerel, bass and pollack from the South West Handline Fishermen's Association (linecaught.org.uk) Buy their fish. It sends a powerful message for fisheries across the globe.
  4. Don't buy undersized fish; delivering the message that undersized fish are unacceptable will keep the pressure on retailers to review their sources, and on fishermen to review their methods.
  5. Avoid buying fish during their spawning season. If this is hard to ascertain (different fish spawn at different times of the year, and some spawn unpredictably), at least avoid ‘berried' crustaceans, and try not to buy roe-carrying fish too often.

Fish to Find and Fish to Avoid from Britain's Coastline:

Ten fish to avoid:

  • Whitebait
  • Cod
  • Hake
  • Bluefin tuna
  • Eel
  • Sharks and huss, all types except dogfish
  • Wild salmon
  • Skate and rays, unless one of the three sustainable species– spotted, cuckoo and starry
  • Wild halibut
  • Sea bass, unless self-caught, line-caught and tagged, or organically farmed
OonasDivers

Ten most underrated sustainable seafish:

  • Sprat
  • Pollack
  • Pouting
  • Mackerel, ideally line caught
  • Megrim and witch
  • Scad or horse mackerel
  • Black bream, especially from Cornwall, the Northwest and North Wales.
  • Grey mullet
  • Red gurnard
  • Garfish

Don't overlook these shellfish, most of which are harvested from healthy stocks or sustainably farmed:

  • Langoustine, creel-caught
  • Brown crab
  • Blue velvet swimmer crab
  • Spider crab
  • Whelks
  • Farmed mussels
  • Dived scallops
  • Cockles, especially MSC-certified from the Burry Inlet
  • Dived razor clams
  • Squid, British, jig-caught

Some fish farming can offer a sustainable, high-welfare alternative to overfished wild stocks. It's OK to eat the following once in a while:

  • Organically farmed salmon
  • Organically farmed trout
  • Organically farmed cod
  • Farmed carp
  • Most farmed bivalves

The Underwater Channel

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