Introduction to English seafood

Scret Food Tours Blog

What sort of Seafood do we eat in the UK?

When it comes to seafood and fish, the British have often been referred to as ‘unadventurous’. This is because there are five common species of seafood which are regularly eaten in the UK. These are; Tuna, Salmon, Cod, Haddock, and Prawns (shrimps). We love these delicious creatures so much that over 72 million tons of Tuna are eaten in the UK each year, 47 million tons of salmon and 42 million tons of cod.

These five species make up about 60 to 75% of all seafood eaten over here and many of these are imported as Yellow-fin, bigeye and bluefin Tuna, although there is excellent wild Scotish Salmon, and Cod and Haddock can be found in the North Sea.

This reliance on five types of seafood is leading to lots of overfishing and there are active campaigns to try to get the British to try other types of fish. The popularity of Cod and Haddock are because they are both whitefish, have soft flaky white meat, and are fairly mild in flavour. They are perfect for fish and chips. In fact, annual spending on fish and chips in the UK is a massive £1.2 billion and 22% of people visit fish & chip shops every week. Tuna and Salmon are also extremely popular from traditional restaurants to fancy sushi bars. Canned Tuna or Smoked Salmon are staples of many households here.

In sixth, seventh and eighth place are Mackerel, Sardine and Pollock, which are much more plentiful and rich in fish oils. After this, all other seafood, fish, Oyster, Crabs, Lobsters and other crustaceans make up the rest.

But what should people in the UK be eating to make fishing more sustainable?

Top of our list is the Gurnard. This is an ugly looking fish with a big head head but is very delicious and under-exploited. We recommend it fried with mushrooms and thyme.

Another fish is the cheap and tiny Sprats, these are perfect with mustard Dip.

Lastly, there are Mussels, which although are extremely popular in France, are much less so over here despite rope-grown mussels being extremely sustainable and very tasty when cooked in white wine and garlic.

Overall, it seems that the British are still in need of inspiration and trying new seafoods that are cheaper, healthier and more sustainable. It's a slow process but little by little our attitudes are changing for the better.