This week whilst in London, I managed to get a place on Billingsgate Seafood School’s ‘Mastering the Art’ course, and although it started at the crack of hell, it was a heavenly day.
A walk around the market prior to the class gave me chance to see what would be on the restaurants menu’s that evening and enjoy some of the banter between the traders. Exotic fish and ‘regular’ fare were available – and the colours, expressions and textures reminded me of being in a haberdashery shop.I wanted to touch them all, but I would soon have chance in the classroom.
The market goes back hundreds of years, and the school was set up 13 years ago to educate children about fish with cooking classes – showing them that fish aren’t always rectangular and covered in breadcrumbs. Indeed, this course was meant to demystify fish preparation and make me more confident with more varieties. I am a little squeamish and haven’t touched a squid since about 2010 and a photoshoot for Gourmet magazine, which in my wisdom I decided to do on a boat…..
To get me ready for this endeavour, I stopped for breakfast in a cafe in the market. This was as London as it gets. But I have to tell you about the breakfast I had. A bacon and scallop roll. Yup. Delicious. I wanted another but realised that I would be late for school if I’d indulged.
After a brief introduction to the market and it schools programmes, we got straight down to preparing fish. Through the morning, we prepared fillets, gutted and stuffed a plaice with prawns and pesto, make crispy marinated squid, prepared and stuffed rainbow trout, made a brandade and a bisque sauce. All this went down well with a couple of glasses of wine and there were goodie bags for all. I donated my fish to my classmates Jo, Mark and Jools, as I’m not sure how the hotel would have taken to me having a stash of seafood in the room.
I have already booked myself on the shellfish course later in the year. And I have already made the bacon and scallop roll!