Do you like crab, lobster and fresh fish straight from the fishermen??
Looks like you are in luck then!
We are truly blessed by living next to the sea, and an area famed for its ultra fresh shellfish and fish! Selsey is the main fishing centre in the area but we also have fish landed at The Witterings and oysters from Emsworth! Did you know that they are taken all over the country, especially London, and even abroad! The other joy is being able to go down to the fishermens huts in person, and select your own produce and then have them prepare it for you, or bring them home and do-it-yourself. You will find them at East Beach, close to the Selsey Lifeboat Station, or at Shore Road in East Wittering.
This is not to say that this is for everyone – not being squeamish is useful too!
LIVE shellfish is just that – LIVE! You have to cook it and then the crabs and lobster will go from green/ brown to that lovely pink/red shell you associate with them. But, all of the operators also have cooked shellfish to buy too!
Also – you then need to know how to open them up, and extract the parts which you don’t eat (and in fact are very poisonous eg the lungs (dead mens’ fingers they are called!) etc, before knowing how to extract both the white and brown meat for eating, and the meat from the claws. Its quite fiddly and hard work but very rewarding!
There are special tools to help, but a sharp knife and small hammer, plus nutcrackers are some of the best!
There are some great cookbooks to help you know exactly what to do, but if in doubt – don’t eat anything you are unsure of. Here’s one way to cook lobster: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_boil_and_eat_lobster/ and another for crab: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/dressedcrab_90206
Be aware, as you a going to put them in boiling water they can get a bit jumpy – so have a lid on and tied down! Or warm the water slowly – it makes them a bit soporific initially, but they do like to try to escape the pan!!
You can always kill them first – put a knife directly into the shell between their eyes an about and inch behind – then swing it down and forwards. Claws must be tied with elastic bands!
Then – you have all your lovely meat… – for a salad – with rocket and a lemon mayonnaise; or in sandwiches; or with fresh pasta or…….??!!
OK, so that’s the shellfish dealt with – but what about the other local delicacies?
Well this all depends on the season and how the fish stocks are, plus, of course – the weather! If its too rough the boats don’t out and you may have to buy frozen (but local) fish.
In the Summer the local mackerel, mullet and sea bass are divine! Then there are the local dabs, plaice, sea bream, rock fish or huss (dogfish – a small shark), skate plus scallops, whelks and winkles, cockles and sea samphire – a green slightly fleshy vegetable that grows on mud flats with a woody inner stem!! (Its a salty version of asparagus!
I know!!! So much choice, and it can vary each day depending on what the boats catch! So you never know what’s for tea! And that’s before you decide HOW to cook them! Grilled, BBQ’d, steamed, broiled, in a pie, fish lasagne, as a paella or risotto, pan fried……. Mmmmmmm
Try visiting wwwjulieshut.co.uk at East Beach or any of the other merchants – Many only sell wholesale but a few will happily look after you!
© Gayle Palmer 2015