Slow Fish

Fast Food v Slow Food 

McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC…we are a generation which has grown up embracing the idea of ‘fast food’ on the go. However, armed with an increase in knowledge, more and more people are now starting to think about what is on their plate, where it has come from and how it has been sourced.

As a counter reaction to fast food - The Slow Food Movement (SFM), a grassroots organisation with supporters in over 150 countries around the world – is increasingly gaining momentum, and shellfish is on the menu.

Cultural Change

SFM started in Italy in the 1980s and is attempting to change the fast food culture, and in doing so, help small food producers and the environment. It focuses on locally prepared food that tastes good without harming the environment or your health.

The group believes that good food on your plate can only come from small producers and food produced in this way is better for the environment and also supports cultural diversity in a way that big scale farming does not.

Similar to the ethos of our work here at Scottish Shellfish, SFM is working to preserve “bio-diversity, food and environmental diversity…to educate people, and help the consumer to understand what is sustainable development and to help the small producer."

Slow Fish

Like Scottish Shellfish, SFM believes that small-scale fishers form an essential part of fragile aquatic ecosystems that must be protected along with the biodiversity of marine species. 

As a result SFM has launched the Slow Fish campaign, where they are working to promote artisanal fishing and neglected fish species and inspire reflection on the state and management of the sea’s resources, promoting responsible fish consumption around the world.

The campaign invites consumers, chefs, academics and fishers to find local solutions that support better management of the sea’s resources.

Eat More Shellfish

During the recent four-day Slow Fish biannual conference held in Geno, Italy, Massimo Bernacchini, a member of the Slow Food Italy Executive Committee, commented that: "It is increasingly evident that in order for the seas to continue to be food reserves, we must definitely change our habits - catch less and better, grow algae and eat more shellfish. 

“A true cultural leap in which Slow Food must take an important leading role by involving fishermen and breeders, cooks and consumers.

"To be able to sustainably tackle the increase in the world population while maintaining a still rich sea, we must aim at the lower part of the food chain, thus avoiding fish that are at the apex, such as tuna or swordfish in favour of bivalves, crustaceans, plankton and algae, which are very abundant.

“Only in this way will we be able to preserve resources for future generations and truly save our sea.”

Sea to Plate

Here at Scottish Shellfish we are proud that our cultivated mussels and oysters are amongst the most environmentally friendly food products around and are harvested from the pristine seas off the Scottish west coast and Shetland. We can trace the journey from sea to plate and our Scottish rope grown mussels are an excellent example of sustainable sourcing. 

Our mussels and oysters are a perfect example of ‘slow food!’ – sit back, taste and enjoy! 

For further information Scottish Shellfish and the environment click here.  

Seagan

There is sea of information (no pun intended!) out there about healthy eating and the impact of food production versus sustainability.

Many people are looking for ways to make changes to their diet that won’t cost the earth – and seaganism is reported to be the latest trend which could potentially fulfil those needs.

So, what is Seaganism? 

Seaganism is a diet combining fish with a plant-based diet. It differs from pescatarianism in that a seagan diet does not include eggs or dairy and there is an emphasis on only eating fish that is sustainably sourced.

The term ‘seaganism’ was first coined in 2016 by food writers Amy Cramer and Lisa McComsey, the duo behind The Vegan Cheat Sheetbook and the movement has grown in popularity over the last couple of years.

In February 2019 the UK’s leading authority on seafood, Seafish, announced a new campaign Think Seagan.

Healthy Lifestyle & Dietary Choice

The campaign showcases why the diet is a healthy lifestyle and dietary choice, providing enhanced nutritional value and Seafish has produced a variety of materials suggesting new and innovative ways to consume and enjoy fish as part of the campaign.

This includes a seagan ‘starter’ kit, 28-day seagan meal plan, seagan recipes including how-to videos, and a store cupboard guide to the vegan essentials. There is also a range of educational tools, such as seafood fact and myth sheets.

Think Seagan

Marcus Coleman, Chief Executive of Seafish, said: “The health benefits of eating seafood are well documented and coupled with the benefits of a plant-based diet, seagansim presents a sustainable, tasty and flexible diet for people of all ages and stages of life.

“Our Think Seagan campaign will inspire and educate those looking to make changes to their diet.”

Joanna Stewart, Registered Dietitian, added: “The Eatwell Guide produced by Food Standards Scotland shows us the different types of foods we should eat, and in what proportions, to have a healthy, balanced diet. 

“It recommends we should be eating two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily. In Scotland this means that most of us should be trying to increase our intake of fish and shellfish in line with current guidance. 

“Shellfish in particular, are low in fat, especially low in saturated fat and are an excellent source of protein. Some types of shellfish such as mussels, oysters and crabs, are good sources of Omega- 3 fats, which help prevent heart disease. Shellfish also contain a variety of vitamins and minerals including selenium, zinc, iodine, copper and vitamin B12 which are all essential for good health.”

Get Started 

For more information on Think Seagan or to download materials visit: www.fishisthedish.co.uk/health/think-seagan

Year of Young People

The Year of Young People 2018

As we come to the end of the year in the next couple of weeks, we should celebrate what a fantastic year it has been for the Scottish Government's #YOYP2018 and how it has highlighted the fantastic young people in our beautiful country. We have throughout the year got a couple of our young employees to write a bit about themselves and shared it on social media, so we thought we would recap here.

Greg Montgomery

Greg Montgomery

Name & Job Title

Greg Montgomery, Commercial Assistant

When did you start with Scottish Shellfish?

The 1st May 2017

What you love best about your job?

Colleagues and Thursday morning taste panel!

What your education or experience journey has been?

Education – UWS Paisley BA (Hons) Business, International School of Management, Munich (ISM) International Management Studies.

What do you feel has really helped your career?

People & Opportunities

What do you feel could be better for young people to achieve their chosen career path?

I don’t know, opportunities are always there for young people it’s about having the attitude, persistence and patience aligned to the career you want.

Did you know this year is the year of the young people?

Absolutely no idea.

Carla Mackin

Carla Mackin

Name & Job Title

Carla Mackin, New Product Development (NPD) Technologist

When did you start with Scottish Shellfish?

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work as an intern in the Technical Department from May 2017 during my summer break from University. As a result, I was offered a graduate full-time position as New Product Development (NPD) Technologist in July 2017. 

What you love best about your job?

I love working with our suppliers and retailers to develop high-quality products that are valued by the consumer. I feel very proud when I see a product myself and the rest of team have developed and managed displayed on the shelves in supermarkets which are consumed by thousands of people.

What your education or experience journey has been?

I almost at the end of 4th year of my BSC Honours Degree in Food Bioscience.

What do you feel has really helped your career?

The opportunity to work with Scottish Shellfish as an intern during the summer has given me invaluable experience to the Food Industry. I was able to use the knowledge and skills that I have learned at Uni put them into practice at Scottish Shellfish. I strongly believe experience leads to opportunities.

What do you feel could be better for young people to achieve their chosen career path?

Providing young people with the opportunity and support to develop transferable skills based on their passion and drives that can help them find jobs or set them on a career path they will enjoy.

Did you know this year is the year of the young people?

No. 

Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans

Name & Job Title

Sarah Evans, Aquaculture and Procurement Technologist

When did you start with Scottish Shellfish?

September 2017

What you love best about your job?

I love working in an industry with a low environmental impact. I’m learning a lot and have great support from everyone in my team.

What your education or experience journey has been?

I did a BSc (Hons) in Marine Biology followed by an MSc in Aquatic Food Security, both at the University of Stirling.

What do you feel has really helped your career?

Getting involved with sports clubs at uni really boosted my confidence and gave me a lot of transferable skills. The Aquaculture Students Association also put on a careers day at the institute. That’s where I first heard of this job and then sent in my CV.

What do you feel could be better for young people to achieve their chosen career path?

With university degrees I think it would be good for there to be a bigger emphasis on practical experience and engagement with industry. That being said I think there are a lot of opportunities out there, ensuring they are accessable to all young people should be a priority.

Did you know this year is the year of the young people?

I saw the profile of other young colleagues at Scottish Shellfish but otherwise wasn’t aware.

 

For more information on the Year of Young people you can visit the Scottish Government website by clicking here.

mussels

Hi, I'm Alan Bryne. I'm a mussel farmer and I farm with my brother Lawrie on the West Coast of Scotland. We are producers of high-quality rope grown mussels, our farm is based near Fort William, Inverness-shire.

Optimum growing conditions

Our mussels are grown in the pure, plankton rich waters of the North Atlantic, free from contamination, which offers optimum growing conditions.

Our mussel farm was established in 1999, and we both enjoy looking after the farm and working on new innovations. The best thing about my job is when we harvest a good crop of great quality mussels for our customers to enjoy.

Hard part of the job

The hardest part of my job is having to deal with the ever-changing challenges that the wonderful mother nature throws at us! However, we are planning on doubling our production over the next few years, whilst keeping the excellent quality mussel we currently produce.

The future

Our future innovations are looking into optimising mussel growth and quality by using different farming locations for different growth stages of our mussels. Traditionally we would grow them from spat to harvest at the same location.

Our mussel farm operates a strict monitoring program, taking regular samples for testing in an accredited laboratory, ensuring our mussels are always safe to eat.

mussel

Fascinating facts about Scotland’s favourite shellfish . . .

Sales of mussels are on the increase, at home and abroad. You can see from our site how popular mussel recipes are and Scottish shellfish is celebrated the world over. Last year (2017) saw the first ever National Mussel Day. Using the hashtag #musselup, the campaign focused on raising the profile of mussels across social media. National Mussel Day was so successful that it’s here to stay. Sunday Oct 7 is National Mussel Day 2018. To celebrate, here are some fascinating facts about one of our most popular shellfish.

Did you know?

A much-loved mollusc

  • In Scotland (and across the North Atlantic) the most common mussel is the Blue Mussel (Mytilus Edulis).
  • Mussels can live for up to 50 years. We don’t tend to eat them at the end of their lives though! The average age of our mussels ready for consumption is 2.5 to 3 years.
  • Male and female mussels are different colours – the male is a creamy white and the female is an orangey colour.
  • When it comes to diet, mussels only eat plankton. To extract the plankton, in one day they can filter 65 litres of water.
  • Mussels produce liquids which set in seawater to form tough fibres called byssal threads or beards. These threads are five times stronger than a human tendon and can cling to a Teflon surface.
  • Mussels can defend themselves from predators such as the dog whelk, and other snails by tying them down with its byssal threads.
  • Mussels close their shells when the tide drops so that they don’t dry up when they’re out of the water.
  • Other than snails, mussels’ main predators are starfish and seabirds.
  • Like the oyster, mussels can also produce pearls. But these are limited to freshwater mussels and are much rarer.
  • Although it may look less than pristine, if the mussel shell is covered with barnacles this is usually a good sign that the mussel is wild, fresh and healthy.

History

  • Mussels have been used as a food source for more than 20,000 years. And many prehistoric settlements in Scotland have been identified by large mounds of mussel shells close by.
  • The first mussel farm dates back to the 8thcentury and was located in France.

Health

  • Mussels have the most impressive nutritional profile of all the shellfish. Consumption of mussels can help reduce inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. And the minerals they contain help build immunity.
  • Mussels are considered a brain food due to the high levels of vitamin B12 that they contain.
  • Mussels are chock full of protein, iron and folic acid. In fact, ounce for ounce, they contain more protein than beef stock.
  • They’re healthy in so many ways. 100g of mussels only contains 58 calories!

Cooking

  • Mussels have so much water within their shells that you don’t need to add water when you steam them.
  • Mussels need to be alive when you cook them. Don’t cook them if the shells are already open and don’t eat them if the shells remain closed after cooking.
  • Moules and frites (mussels and chips) is actually the national dish of Belgium, although more often associated with France.

Working up an appetite?

Yes, there’s more to the humble mussel than meets the eye. And is all this talk making you hungry? Don’t forget to check out our recipes and #musselup this October.

Happy National Mussel Day everyone!

winter is coming

Summer is over

I am writing on a brisk Shetland autumn day, which anyone might mistake for a full-blown winter’s gale in more southerly climates.  As often as not up here, the weather snaps from summer to winter in one fell swoop and the summer seems very much behind us now.   Despite southern parts of Britain getting a final flourish of heat, we seem to be lined up for several weeks of gales and cool temperatures of 7 degrees or below.  So, I’m calling it - summer is over.

Unique shellfish

It is however the cold temperatures and cold sea water that make our shellfish unique.  So, getting into this part of the season has its benefits and it is one of the best times of the year for the mussels themselves. They have just had a long summer of warm days, plenty of plankton to eat to build up their meats and followed by the current cooler conditions for harvesting mean they should be getting to market in top condition right now.

winter is coming

Visitors

Despite the cooler conditions, we have had a few visitors to the sites lately with the first being the board of Food Standards Scotland making the trip north to find out more about how we farm.  We discussed their sampling programme and how that works to classify our areas and ensure plankton blooms over the summer cannot cause the shellfish to become unsafe to eat.  We also talked about the extra work and testing we do on every harvest, to make sure all the shellfish we harvest are safely farmed and sustainable.  It was a really useful day and was great they made the effort to come up and see us.

winter is coming

Fresh mussels for the Chefs

The following week we had a delegation from Seafood Scotland, who had invited a group of Chefs up from the UK Mainland to also get the chance to see what we do.  We were able to show them the farms and also the factory where Scottish Shellfish boxes up the mussels for the wholesale markets.  They were keen to get their hands on some shells and take them up to the local award-winning restaurant Frankie’s and try their own recipes with product still dripping with seawater.  They too seemed to enjoy the visit and hopefully went back fully inspired to use our shellfish in their daily menus.

winter is coming

Autumn harvesting

Moving through autumn we expect to mainly be harvesting, getting the sites battened down for the rest of the winter and planning for next year’s spring spat input.  You can follow Shetland Mussels on twitter for more regular updates of farm happenings @ShetlandMussels

Sustainability

Sustainability. It’s a word that is bandied around a lot these days. And at Scottish Shellfish it’s at the very heart of what we do. But do you know what it actually means?

A fragile balance

Today, we’re very aware of environmental issues. We’re bombarded with shocking pictures of wildlife (birds, seals and fish in particular) festooned or swathed in plastic waste that we’ve simply discarded, which threatens their wellbeing and potentially their very existence. But does our awareness translate into action?

Sustainability defined

When it comes to the environment, it’s clear our global practices need to change. You can read the science bit here but the basic definition of sustainability – one which we can all understand – is the creation, build and use of items and organisations which won’t damage our environment or our society, in a bid to protect our future and our children’s future.

But more than simply understanding the definition of sustainability, it’s important that we take the time to consider the consequences of our current global behaviour if it continues unchecked. The scale of the problem we face can be daunting, but we can all do our bit to arrest, if not reverse the damage done.

Scotland at the forefront

When it comes to seafood and Scottish seafood in particular, sustainability is key. Thanks to our cold, clear waters, as a nation our seafood and our shellfish are amongst the most celebrated. Here’s some stats which might surprise you…

  • Scotland is one of the largest seafood producers in Europe
  • Scottish seafood (via the Scottish Development International) was the official partner of the World Gourmet Summit in Singapore in 2016
  • We’ve got one of the most modern fishing fleets in Europe
  • Over two thirds of the world’s langoustines are sourced from Scottish waters.

And we’re no slackers either when it comes to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) accreditations.

What is the MSC?

Scotland holds more Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) accreditations than most EU countries. Established in London in 1997, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) exists to ensure that global fisheries commit to sustain stocks in the wild instead of aquaculture farmed fish.  MSC-certified fish is now available in a total of 97 countries, and 10% of all wild seafood is now being caught to the MSC standard.

Sustainability at Scottish Shellfish

It’s easy to understand why, as UK's premier producer of finest quality shellfish, Scottish Shellfish take sustainability so seriously. Our rope grown mussels are a great example of sustainability in practice. We suspend ropes from floats in the sea. Once the ropes are in place, our intervention stops. The young mussels settle naturally on our ropes and then grow simply by feeding on sea plankton. They don’t require any other feed source. Because they grow by suspension, there’s no dredging which means they’re grit free when harvested.

When it comes to oysters, cultivation is similar, although instead of using ropes, we grow them in special mesh bags held on trestles in the inter-tidal zone. With an extremely low carbon footprint, our mussels and our oysters are arguably one of the most environmentally friendly food products around.

Do your bit

You don’t just have to take our word for it. Our oyster and mussel farms are independently certified by the Friend of the Sea. When you buy your seafood from us you’re doing your bit for the environment.

Now you’re here, take some time to browse our site, read our blog, and check out our recipes, safe in the knowledge that you’re making responsible choices which will help all of us secure the future of our seas.

mussels

Legend has it that you should only eat oysters when there’s an ‘r’ in the month. Indeed, some say this applies to all shellfish. But we don’t want you to miss out on the produce from our pristine lochs and coastlines during the summer months. That plate of fruit de mer and a chilled glass of white are just right for a leisurely al fresco summer lunch. We’ve got good news for you…

What’s the truth behind the legend?

Although for a time all shellfish were regarded with wariness, this legend was originally only about oysters. Oysters used to be shipped in by rail in wooden barrels filled with ice. In the heat of the summer the ice melted, and long before they got to their destination the oysters were spoiled. By gradual association, all shellfish became tarred with the same brush.

Eat our shellfish with impunity

The good news is that, in these days of modern refrigeration and chilled storage, you can happily dismiss this adage as pure folklore. And we should know. At Scottish Shellfish we’re the UK’s premier producer of finest quality shellfish. Our farmers take real care and pride in the shellfish they cultivate, and our mussel farms are independently certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.  You’ll find our produce in supermarkets and restaurants across the country.

Not only can you eat our mussels, crab, oysters and langoustines with impunity, by purchasing our products you’re doing your bit for the environment. The carbon footprint of our mussels is 19 times less than that of beef! Did you know that eating mussels is ‘better for the planet than being vegan’? Find out more here.

From sea to plate

Gone are the days of thinking a whole chicken, a rump steak or a salmon fillet start life pre-packaged in a supermarket. These days people are much more concerned about environmental responsibility and sustainability, and they want to know the provenance of the produce they buy. We’re entirely confident about the quality of our shellfish. And we’re entirely transparent about our whole process of cultivation and farming. We find that children in particular are fascinated by the journey from sea to plate. We’ve got the entire journey laid out for you in graphics. Check it out here.

Put another shrimp on the barby

Now summer is well and truly here, barbeque season is upon us. And we’ve got lots of great recipes for a quick, delicious healthy meal whether you choose oyster or crab, langoustines or mussels.

If you’re going to fire up that barbecue, what about grilled oysters with butter? Or you can make up your own skewers with different shellfish interspersed with fresh vegetables. We’ve got a great recipe for langoustines with a roast garlic and lemon butter. Or sticking with the oyster theme try smoky grilled oysters.

What’s your tipple?

Why not enhance your al fresco shellfish dining with a carefully selected tipple? Wine (both white and rose) is probably the drink most of us associate with fish and shellfish. But you might be surprised to know that champagne, gin and even stout can work well, depending on your recipe. Gin and tonic mussels anyone? Be adventurous.

Here in the UK, we can’t always count on the weather, so you might not be able to use your barbeque as much as you’d like, even if it is summer. But there are heaps of other recipes you can try if the weather drives you indoors. For a special occasion, what about lobster risotto or monkfish with mussels, leeks and courgettes? And if the rain’s beating down outside, there’s nothing better than a bowl of hearty mussel soup

Rain or shine, you can breathe a sigh of relief and eat shellfish freely, all year round.

seafood product of the year

On Wednesday the 23rd May 2018, we were absolutely delighted to have won the Aquaculture UK "Seafood Product of the Year" for our Moules Frites product for Morrison's.

Stiff Competition!

There was fairly stiff competition in the category including:

  • M&S Scottish Lochmuir Beetroot & Vodka Speybay Oak Smoked Salmon, Scottish Sea Farms
  • Native Hebridean Farmed Salmon, The Scottish Salmon Company
  • Moules Frites, Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group Ltd
  • Wester Ross Sashimi Grade Salmon, Wester Ross Fisheries Ltd

We were absolutely delighted to have won against this superb category.

The Product

We won with the Morrison’s "The Best Meal For Two Moules Frites" which was launched in stores earlier this year as a Valentine’s Day special, consisting of two packs of 450g Mussels in a Lobster Bisque Sauce and a single box of thin cut fries or ‘frites’- 300g.

aquaculture awards

Awards Dinner

The awards dinner was at the MacDonald Highland Resort, Aviemore and Moules Frites scooped the prize and was named Aquaculture Seafood Product of the Year for 2018.  Stephen Cameron, our Managing Director is photographed collecting the award in the head image.

Thank you

Thank you to all involved both internally in Scottish Shellfish and those who were involved in the awards evening and the judging panel.

 

love food hate waste

Eat well, save money!

If you’re anything like us, you probably love food and hate waste. There are some quite shocking statistics out there about how much food is wasted every year. Last year, waste and recycling advisory body Wrap published a report which indicated that (when it comes to food) each UK family wastes over £470 every year. That translates to 7.3m tonnes of food, most of which could have been salvaged! This is especially shocking when you consider it comes at a time when both the use of food banks, and the number of families living below the poverty line, are rising.

Luckily, our collective consciousness is now well and truly tuned into this sad state of affairs. The government, supermarkets and independent food vendors now offer us lots of tips and tricks to make sure that we get the most out of the food that we purchase.

Good health, good planning

When it comes to shellfish, this is easy. If you start with the proviso that for good health, vitamins and long chain-omega-3 fatty acids, you should be eating two portions of fish a week, that’s a great basis for menu planning. And additionally, shellfish is low in fat and an excellent source of selenium, zinc, iodine and copper.

So far, so healthy. And there’s more good news. Today, seafood is very accessible. Because of its provenance, shellfish is often frozen. And frozen shellfish is available from all supermarkets,  large and small. Fresh or frozen, it’s quite easy to gauge portion size for yourself and your family. And although we’re eating more and more seafood in general and shellfish in particular, these days seafood is still regarded as something of a treat, which generally means clean plates at the end of every meal.

Even if you do have leftovers, some menu planning means that your wastage will be nil. With a little care, your leftover shellfish will be as tasty and full of flavour for future use as possible.

  1. Rule number one with shellfish is to ensure that all leftovers are quickly refrigerated.
  2. Rule number two, don’t freeze them. Ice crystals will strip your cooked shellfish of its remaining flavour.
  3. Rule number three, take any leftover shellfish out of the shell before you pop it in the fridge; if you leave the shell on, the flavour can become too strong and spoil the delicate taste you expect.

So far, so delicious

So how do you use your shellfish leftovers? First off, eat them within two days of refrigerating. How you do that can be as simple or as complex as you want. Is there anything more delicious that a chilled cooked langoustine, straight from the fridge, dipped in hollandaise sauce? Or you can make soups, omelettes or salads with leftover mussels, prawns or crab. Mix your shellfish leftovers with mayonnaise for a delicious sandwich filling. Or try them with a cream sauce for an elegant starter. If you pop your leftover shellfish in at the absolute last minute, there’s no chance you’ll over cook them or spoil the texture. Less is more when it comes to shellfish.

Scottish shellfish recipes

We’ve got lots of great recipes you can try with your leftover shellfish. Have a look here for yourself. We’ve also handpicked a few for you too:

Your fishmonger or local market stall should be able to give you more ideas on how to cook your shellfish including your leftovers. And if you are especially creative and come up with your own recipes, please feel free to share them with us and spread the shellfish love!