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!

shellfish farming A proud tradition

Traditional healthy fare

Historically, shellfish was the food of the masses, but today it’s often regarded as a delicacy. And because of the relative rarity of consumption, some regard shellfish with suspicion. But seafood in general and shellfish in particular give us oils and vitamins which can help reduce heart disease, and they’re an important part of a healthy diet.

Genuine fast food

Our reluctance to eat shellfish is partly because we don’t know how to prepare it at home.  Shellfish is a genuine fast food which requires little effort to prepare. And there’s evidence that this message is beginning to hit home.

An upward trend

Although production of shellfish varies every year (due to weather, market prices and poor growth) statistics show that the shellfish industry in Scotland (dominated by mussels, scallops and oysters) is growing. In 2016, for example mussel production increased by six per cent, pacific oysters are up by 31% from 2015, and queen scallop production has increased by a staggering 370% in the same period. The Scottish shellfish industry itself is valued at £11.7m. (Source: Scottish Shellfish Farm Production Survey 2016)

Sustainable Scottish fishing

Today, Scotland leads the way in sustainable fishing practices. Most seafood is farmed rather than hand-picked, although the mussels themselves are cultivated or rope-grown, and no additives or feed are used. Ropes are set up in a carefully selected clean water area and the mussels attach themselves to the ropes, to be harvested a few years later. Celebrity chef Jean Claude Novelli describes Scottish mussels farmed in Shetland as "the best in the world".

A family business

Traditionally, shellfish farming is a family business. Often established in remote coastal areas where employment opportunities were limited. Shellfish can’t be farmed intensively, cultivation requires specialist skills, sometimes honed over generations. Today there are nearly 200 shellfish farming businesses in Scotland, many of which are still family run.

Working together

Despite the focus on family-run businesses, our shellfish farmers often work together to market and sell their products at agreed prices.  These co-operatives keep marketing prices down, and the market buoyant and healthy.

The personal touch

Although we work together with a number of different farmers, we still believe in the personal touch.  All of our produce can be traced back to its original source. Our shellfish farmers are based on the west coast of Scotland and on Shetland, and their oysters, mussels and scallops have their own unique qualities depending on the skills and methods used and the farm itself. Our individual farmers’ stories contribute overall to the history of Scottish shellfish and are an important part of our own story. Click here to read our farmers' stories.

Next time you’re considering what to cook for a simple weekday supper, why not eschew the traditional pizza or spaghetti bolognaise and try mussels or scallops instead? We have lots of great recipes on our website which are quick and easy to prepare, and much healthier for you.

Shellfish and Guinness

Scottish Shellfish and Guinness? With the exception of oysters, perhaps it’s not the most obvious choice. But sometimes the most surprising combinations can be the most delicious…

Celtic connections

As St Patrick’s Day looms, it’s not just Celtic connections that we Scots and Irish share. We both have a long history of making the most of our natural produce, and exporting our proud traditions.

Guinness

One proud Irish tradition is the brewing of Guinness. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, there’s no doubt you’ve heard of Guinness. Originally brewed in Dublin in 1759, it’s the national tipple.  What you may not know is that (unlike other stouts or dark beers) Guinness is proven to have some health-giving qualities. The anti-oxidants it contains can help reduce blood clots and the risk of heart attacks.

A healthy and delicious combination

At a time when we’re bombarded with ever-more confusing dietary advice, it’s good to know that the health benefits of shellfish are also undisputed. Scottish shellfish and Guinness is a healthy and surprisingly delicious combination. So, why not push the boat out this St Patrick’s Day and try it for yourself? You don’t even need to go out to eat; there are lots of great shellfish recipes which you can wash down with a pint of the famous dark beer.

The ultimate fast food

Lots of people associate shellfish with high days and holidays. It’s certainly true that a brace of fresh oysters, a feast of tangy brown crabmeat or the taste of world-renowned lobster are an undeniable treat. But the seas and sea lochs of our west coast give us an embarrassment of riches when it comes to shellfish. Which means you don’t need to think of them only as a luxury, they’re more accessible than you think.

And as shellfish by their very nature require minimal cooking, they are the ultimate fast food. Why not consider making them an integral part of your diet? There are lots of simple, delicious recipes on our website. Whether you want to cook mussels, oysters, langoustines, crab or lobster – you’ll find something healthy, delicious and quick on our recipes page.

Unusual combinations

Don’t be afraid to try some more of our unusual and delicious combinations. Mussels for example lend themselves to a surprising variety of beverages such as white beer, prosecco, and even gin and tonic.  We’re continually adding to the recipes on our site, so check back every week for the latest combinations which are surprisingly easy to make.

Remember to drink responsibly. Happy St Patrick’s Day. Cheers!

Oysters are a well-known aphrodisiac

Casanova’s breakfast choice

Valentine’s Day is upon us!  Now is the time to plan a special meal that will tantalise your loved one. Oysters the well-known aphrodisiac, purportedly increasing the libido of all who eat them. In fact, Casanova is said to have started his day with 50 of these delicious bivalves! But did you know that plenty of other shellfish have the same sexy quality?

Shellfish the natural aphrodisiac!

A true aphrodisiac, increases sexual potency in men and desire in women.  With some cultures claiming that they also contribute to improved fertility. While all claims to unparalleled desire must be taken with a small pinch of salt, there is indeed truth to the idea that oysters and other shellfish are good for a boost.

Power of Zinc

Help comes in the form of zinc, in which oysters, mussels, and other molluscs are particularly high. Low levels of zinc can contribute to diminished libido, as can low levels of testosterone. Zinc triggers the release of testosterone in each sex, which will give both men and women that burst of energy they are looking for on February 14th!

Spoil your other half

Even without the chemical evidence, there’s something to be said for preparing a tasty meal and surprising your partner. Delicate flavours from the best sources in the world, can’t fail to earn you brownie points.  Cooking a treat of a meal for your lover is better than serving up all the outlandish aphrodisiacs in the world.

Valentine recipes

Half a dozen oysters, freshly shucked and served with a squeeze of lemon, or a dash of Tabasco if you like it hot; lobster with lashings of butter; a bottle of crisp white wine, all taken by candlelight and soft music playing in the background. Now that sounds like the ideal way to show your other half just how much they mean to you, and any nutritional benefits are just a happy plus-point.

Oysters are a well-known aphrodisiac

scottish oysters

Working class food

It seems odd to modern foodies that Scottish oysters were once a mainstay of the working classes. A luxury item around the world in the 21st century, they were cheap and plentiful up until the beginning of the 19th. Roman soldiers consumed them while building the Antonine Wall in the second century, and Edinburgh was once famous for its oyster cellars.

Oyster pie!

Eaten in steak and oyster pie, or in pubs to soak up the ale, it was not unusual to enjoy oysters by the handful. Oysters and Guinness were a famous pairing across the water, but Scots tended to match them to almost anything.

Street snack

Many cities boasted barrels of oysters on ice, a street snack that it is difficult to imagine today. There is an old rule about only eating oysters during months with ‘r’ in the name, and this is partly due to the weather and likelihood that the oyster had spoiled during those hot summer days out in the sun. There was also a need to allow oyster beds to respawn during this time. Needless to say, there is no need to abstain today.

Scottish quality and taste

Oysters are one of the types of shellfish that take on the flavour of their environment, and we are lucky that in Scotland our waters are clear and cool, making our oysters juicy and delicious. They are cultivated in mesh bags on metal trestles on the sea floor, and it can take up to three years for an oyster to reach its full potential. With some species, it may take as long as eight years! This may seem like a lot of work, but it does mean that oysters are of an excellent, consistent quality. Scottish oysters are an affordable luxury, ideal for a special meal at home. Additions of Tabasco, shallot vinaigrette, or simple lemon should not be skipped, as they make the oysters sing.

References

Oyster history

Specialist history

Scotland’s oyster history

All about oysters now

Historical information about oysters

mussels for his muscles

Paul Brannen

Paul has work has worked for us in various roles for 10 years, and is now 28 years old. He currently works on the nightshift hygiene team. A local lad, coming from Coatbridge.

Fight Deal

Paul has successfully obtained a 4 fight (professional) deal, what a fantastic achievement. One that we are sponsoring to the tune of £500.  He is super featherweight, and if Paul goes on to win these fights (which we are sure he will do because he has been eating his mussels) he would be close to getting a chance to compete for the British Masters title, under the rules of the British and Irish Boxing Authority.

Good Luck

Good luck to Paul and his new challenge of a professional boxing career, from everyone at Scottish Shellfish.

short history of Scottish mussels

Cultural Delight

Mussels are a cultural delight: a dish that you are as likely to find in a fine dining restaurant as in the local pub, and quick and easy to whip up at home. Scottish mussels are some of the best in the world. Prepared with other local ingredients, they make a meal to remember.

Rope Grown

Our mussels are rope-grown on the West Coast of Scotland and in the Shetland Isles, but that wasn’t always the case. They have been a part of our diet for more than 20,000 years, and while cultivation started in the thirteenth century, there was plenty of hard work that went into harvesting them prior to that.

Collecting Mussels by Hand!

It was not uncommon to spend hours collecting mussels by hand from their natural environment, walking along the sea shore with a bucket and perhaps a knife to gently ease the shell away from the rock. The mussels may then have been placed into saltwater to continue to fatten up and filter out some of the grittiness before being cooked up.

Mussel Stew

A traditional Scottish recipe for mussel stew included staples that we see in other mussel-loving cultures around the world: garlic, parsley and cream. These days we are more likely to opt for moules marinière. Tarragon is a novel replacement herb, giving the dish a warming sensation perfect for those chilly Scottish evenings.

Natural Bed vs Cultivated

Mussels collected from natural beds often have a gritty texture, and may not be as plump as cultivated ones. Farming allows for fat, juicy specimens that soak up the seasoning as they cook, and never offending with a sandy mouth-feel.

Eco-friendly

The methods that we use on our small isle mean that mussels are ecologically sound, too. In Europe and much of the rest of the world, mussels are harvested through dredging, harming starfish and other creatures. With rope grown cultivation, Scotland’s mussels do only good.

References

In recent years there have been many TV adverts and health promotions highlighting how important Omega 3 fatty acids are for our health. How they are particularly good for your brain, but what are the other benefits?

Fatty Acids

Omega 3 is also known as ‘fatty acids’, but don’t be fooled by the description, we need healthy fats in our diets to keep our brains working.  Omega-3’s also serve to cut cholesterol, which is fantastic news for your heart.  It is suggested that even one portion of shellfish per week can reduce the chances of a heart attack by 10%!

Benefits

The benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids extend to almost every area of health. Pregnant women may want to give their babies a boost by including them in their diet.  This will improve vision and even intelligence in the babies while they are still in the womb. Adults will gain benefits too, because including Omega-3 fatty acids in their diet has been shown to help with memory loss and even depression.

Shellfish & Omega 3

Shellfish are high in Omega 3’s which means a healthy heart, a healthy brain, and healthy bones.  All from just one to two delicious shellfish additions to your weekly meal routine.

What’s not to love about shellfish?  Find out if all shellfish are good for you here.