Ingrid Rose came to dinner and I pulled out all the stops. She feels strongly about looking after land and sea – so no cutting of ethical corners with Ingrid Rose.
The fish had to be caught sustainably – not plundered from the sea or factory-farmed, she said. I was grateful to be pushed in a real food lover direction.
I dithered at the Hand Picked Shellfish stall at the Bristol Farmer’s market, agonising between two sustainable fish. Would it be familiar mackerel or ugly-looking gurnard?
In an experimental mood, I chose the gurnard although it disturbed the very fibre of my being.
Yet gurnard never let us down. Flesh firm and sweet, similar to sea bass – and at £7 a kilo, about a third of the price.
Tragically and incomprehensibly, this sustainable fish is called “jetsam” – thrown back into the sea dead, discarded from a more glamorous, prized catch.
My grandmother would say: You can’t tell a book by its cover.
I felt a pang as I handled the sea creature’s body before cooking. I no longer felt judgmental about its heavy face and lugubrious name.
We roasted it (covered) with thyme, sliced shallots and mushrooms in olive oil for 20 minutes in a hot oven. Served it with faithful brown rice and trusty steamed kale.
I felt the gurnard had entered my life like a family animal or pet – and we ate it.
“Don’t be sad,” said Ingrid Rose. “Gurnards eat other fish.”