Although turkey is traditionally eaten on Christmas Day, a fish dish is also essential, says Henri Charles of Express Fresh Fish in Aberdeen.
The online fishmonger, which has been launched by family-run fish merchants J Charles, is preparing to celebrate its first flurry of Christmas orders on its new website and the founder’s great-great-grandson Henri is expecting a big demand for fish this year before the markets close on December 22.
That’s because, since lockdown, more and more people have been experimenting in the kitchen, introducing new dishes to their repertoire and becoming a little more adventurous when it comes to eating fish and seafood.
Now Henri, who took over the business from his father earlier this year, is predicting scallops and langoustines – and maybe even lobster – to be popular this Christmas, as at-home hosts served them up as starters before the traditional turkey and all the trimmings are eaten.
Henri said: “We are not trying to persuade people to switch from turkey to fish completely, but introduce fish dishes around the turkey, like starters of calamari, prawn cocktail, scallops and Cullen skink. We deal with any Scottish fish, so anything Scottish, we can get you.
“People have been trying new dishes and have picked up a few new recipes and are trying to cook different varieties of fish – I have had a couple of requests for octopus, squid and crab.
“People wouldn’t normally have langoustines and lobster through the year, unless they went to a seafood restaurant, but this Christmas you could serve them as a starter or as a side to their main. We have a number of recipes (see one for scallops, below) for each product on our website which change monthly depending on the season.
“And we have also introduced a number of Christmas-specific items, like smoked salmon sides (rather than small packets) as well as lobster and langoustines, which we have had throughout the year.”
Express Fresh Fish, and J Charles Fish Merchants, have always done Christmas pre-ordering, over the phone and in person at the store, but earlier this year, Henri’s task was to launch the e-commerce side of the business in a bid to streamline operations. In January, www.expressfreshfish.com went live, making this Christmas its very first one taking online orders for home delivery.
Express Fresh Fish prides itself on its high quality products and its fast delivery service (hence the name) and, as well as having a huge number of local customers, they also deliver further afield, as Henri pointed out: “You can pre-order online now and choose a delivery date.
“Our express service means that we can get it to them quickly – for example, our quickest delivery was 90 minutes.
“We deliver around the corner to the rest of the UK – the furthest north we have delivered is Brora and the furthest south was in the Cornwall area.”
And the beauty about ordering fresh fish is that it comes in 500g vacuum packs (or, for langoustines, in polystyrene boxes) so it is easy to store in the fridge or freezer and even easier to prepare.
Express Fresh Fish is including a FREE Seafish recipe book with some of its orders. To pre-order and choose a delivery day for your fish this Christmas, log on to www.expressfreshfish.com or call 01224 249 330.
There are a limited number of slots available each day between 14th to 22nd December so it is advisable to purchase early to guarantee your preferred delivery day. The deadline for ordering for Christmas is December 21st, for delivery on 22nd.
Scallops with bacon, black pudding and colcannon
Prep time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 10-30 mins
For the scallops:
2 tbsp sunflower oil
8 rashers smoked streaky bacon, rindless
16 medium-sized scallops, shelled, coral removed and cleaned
200g/7oz black pudding, cut into 12 thick slices
100g/3½oz chicken stock
3 tbsp Marsala
sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
fresh flatleaf parsley, to garnish
For the colcannon:
750g/1lb 11oz potatoes, preferably Maris Piper or King Edward, peeled, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
100g/3½oz curly kale, roughly shredded
200ml/2fl oz double cream
- For the colcannon, cook the potatoes in boiling water for 15 minutes or until very tender.
- Meanwhile, heat 25g/1oz of the butter in a large heavy-based frying pan and gently fry the onion for five minutes, or until softened, stirring regularly. Add the kale and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/Gas 1. Preheat a heatproof dish.
- Drain the potatoes in a large colander and return to the saucepan. Leave to stand for a couple of minutes. Warm the cream and remaining 25g/1oz butter in small saucepan. Mash the cooked potatoes with the cream and milk until smooth. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Add the softened kale and stir together until lightly combined. Transfer to the warmed dish and cover with foil. Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.
- For the scallops, heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Fry the bacon rashers over a medium-high heat for 4-6 minutes until the fat crisps, turning once. (If lots of liquid comes out of the bacon, tip it away and return the pan to the heat.) Remove the bacon, place on a baking tray and keep warm in the oven.
- Heat one more tablespoon of oil and a small knob of butter in the frying pan. Add the black pudding and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until it darkens and becomes crisp around the edges. Transfer the black pudding to the tray in the oven, tip out most of the buttery liquid and return the pan to the hob.
- Pat the scallops dry with kitchen paper and season on each side with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Cook the scallops for 1-2 minutes on each side, depending on their size, until golden-brown on the outside but tender within. Remove the baking tray out of the oven and put the scallops on it alongside the bacon and black pudding.
- Return the frying pan to the heat and add the chicken stock and Marsala. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Add the remaining butter, in small pieces, to the liquid, stirring constantly until the butter melts and the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat.
- Spoon the colcannon onto four plates and top with the black pudding, scallops and bacon. Strain a little of the Marsala sauce over each one, garnish with fresh parsley and serve.
To pre-order from Express Fresh Fish and choose a delivery day for your fish this Christmas, log on to www.expressfreshfish.com or call 01224 249 330.