It seems right that my first post is about Jersey. This little island is not only famous for its cows, cream and potatoes, but is also personally famous as the island that taught me to love and appreciate food – especially fish.
When most children squirm at the thought of eating crab, scallops, moules, whelks, cockles and oysters, I would happily eat shellfish as if it were a bag of penny sweets. But I don’t just enjoy eating it, I’m also interested in the catching and cooking.
Half my family lives in Jersey, so I always try and go over at least once a year and who would blame me – in Jersey you can buy a dozen large scallops from local fishermen for under £10. When I went this summer, I spent my time catching Manchot (razor fish) on Grouville Beach, wine tasting at La Mare, chatting to the crab and lobster catchers down at the pier and watching the fishmongers prepare the huge selection of seafood at Beresford Fish Market in St Helier.
So you have something to take away from this post (other than my love of Jersey), below is a guide to razor fishing. It’s a strange way to fish, but a fun pastime if it’s too cold to lie on the beach. Just remember to alway eat your catch, or pass it on to someone who will (I fully support sustainable fishing and so should you):
- Make sure the tide is low (Jersey has some of the largest tidal ranges in the world, hitting 12 miles at its lowest) and the weather is good
- Come armed with salt and a bucket – the salt is used to catch the fish, the bucket is there to carry the fish, simple
- About two metres from the shore, start looking for small key holes in the sand
- When you find a key hole, make sure your shadow doesn’t cover it before pouring a little salt on top (try not to get the nozzle of the salt dispenser wet or you might have trouble pouring – always seems to be my problem…)
- The salt will make the razor fish think the tide has risen, so within around 30 seconds, it will pop up through the sand, ready for you to grab and pull it out
- The razor fish might not be what you expect – it doesn’t resemble a fish in anyway. Instead, you will find a delicate rectangular olive-green shell that encases the long white, rubbery meat
- To cook, rinse the razor fish to get rid of any grit and sand, before placing your catch on a large baking tray and grilling under a high heat for a couple of minutes so the shells nudge open. Once they are cool enough to handle, open the shells and take out the meat, washing them once again to get rid of anymore unwanted sand. Place them under the grill, or fry in butter for another couple of minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve on a bed of salad with a fresh baguette and butter.