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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

12 November, 2018 - The Scottish Seafood Story

Slow Living Radio is excited to feature Scotland, and particularly, Scottish Seafood in tonight’s informative and entertaining show.  We are delighted to welcome Clare McDougall from Seafood Scotland, Mark Simpson who founded Alexander Smokery and the very talented Celebrity Chef Mark Heirs who spreads the gospel of Scottish food around the world.

But first, a little more about Scottish Seafood:

Scotland – that vastly beautiful and friendly land of kilts, haggis and gorgeous salmon.  But did you know that Scotland is one of the largest seafood producers in Europe? Their rugged coastline spans over 7.000 mile, and combined with the fish in their lochs, Scotland boasts more than 65 species of the highest quality sustainable seafood. 

Scotland experts credit a few unique characteristics for the quality of their seafood:

Geography - Scotland lies where the warm waters of the Gulf Stream meet the cold waters of the North Atlantic, creating a nutrient-rich feeding ground for a huge variety of species to grow.

Heritage – Like the wine families of Europe, many of Scotland’s fishing families have been fishing Scotland’s lochs and seas for centuries, handing down their passion, dedication and knowledge. For them, fishing is not just a job; it is a way of life that has shaped their communities and families. As a result, sustainability and responsible fishing practices are always a priority for the 5,000 fishermen working in Scotland, and they ensure that the sea continues to provide a living not only for themselves but also for future generations. Many of the fisheries support whole villages perched along the coast and hills surrounding the lochs.

Regulation – Because of the essential and historic role of the fishing industry in Scotland, the country has made it a priority to practice responsible and sustainable farming and fishing practices, maintaining its pristine marine environment and preserving stocks through national and European industry regulations.

Many of the species landed in Scottish waters have been certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, which operates throughout the UK. Scotland’s North Sea Cod, for example, became MSC-certified in 2017.

Here is more about our guests of tonight’s show:

Clare MacDougall,
Head of Trade Marketing for North America and UK,

Clare has a degree in Marketing and Communications and a Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing.  She has over 15 years’ experience in marketing and PR and has worked in both the public and private sector, including local authority and financial services and has also taught marketing and events at Edinburgh College.
Clare is currently Head of Trade marketing for Seafood Scotland responsible for raising  awareness of, and promoting the Scottish Seafood industry in the geographic areas of North America and the UK.

Clare’s s role includes managing and delivering the strategy to increase sales of Scottish seafood in overseas and home markets, contributing to the Scottish export targets for food and drink and contributing to Scottish Governments Ambition 2030 strategy.

Integral to the development of the strategy for Scottish Food and Drink exports identifying the key target geographies for future development to fully utilize the international appeal of Scottish products in overseas markets.

Clare also provides Business Development support to Scottish Seafood companies to achieve growth in North America and UK markets.

Managing a team who deliver a program of trade missions, PR and communications, food and drink trade events and buyer- supplier introductions in international markets.

Mark Simpson

Frustrated with buying salmon from out with Scottish waters, Mark began his journey with a mission to create an age old Aberdeen Smoked Salmon tradition using on the finest salmon from cold and crisp Scottish waters, namely Loch Duart.

Using curing and smoking techniques from 1900s Aberdeenshire, the Alexander Smokery smoke their fish over an open fire with no preservatives or additives tolerated.  Also following tradition, the cure includes Demerara sugar, giving a depth not found in purely salt cured and smoked fish.

Enjoy the following excerpts from an interview with Mark from Society Aberdeen Magazine.

Owner of The Alexander Smokery, Mark has been running his Scottish smoked salmon company for just over a year and is one of the youngest fishmongers in Aberdeenshire.

The fishing industry is hugely important to Aberdeen. What was it that spurred you on to get in on the action?
The inspiration behind the business really came from my feeling of Aberdeenshire being one of the most incredible fishing areas in the UK. There are 15 to 20 villages that all contribute to the fishing industry and in my opinion we literally have the best seafood on the planet here and we don’t eat enough of it.
The fishing industry in the north-east has got smaller and smaller over the past 40 years and it was the importance of the industry that drove me to start this. So many people have forgotten how much fish we used to smoke here in Aberdeenshire and it’s this forgetting of the tradition of smoking salmon that I want to reignite.
I mean we were the first city in the UK to smoke fish back in 1908 and nobody really does it anymore. I really want to try to replicate what it was as the fishing industry is just incredible. Everyone’s really proud to be involved in it so it’s about time we all start pushing it up more.
Okay, it’s clear you have a vast knowledge of the industry, but what got you into it in the first place

I’ve worked in the smoked salmon industry for the last seven or eight years across two companies. One really large international company and another smaller artisan company. I’ve done everything from production to sales and my latter role was sales manager for the smaller company. I was travelling the world all the time – which sounds really glamorous. But for a guy who’s got a wife and kids at home, it wasn’t the best thing. My tagline and ethos has always been to buy Scottish and if you’re buying something that’s not really 100% Scottish . . . well then I wasn’t really practicing what I preached.
And how do you practice what you preach now?
With regards to any product, you’re legally allowed to label something Scottish if it’s processed here, even if it’s Norwegian, Danish or fish from anywhere else in the world. I didn’t really like that very much. There are only one or two companies that are 100% Scottish fish and I wanted to be one of them. I wanted to be able to trace my products back to the egg from the farm it came from. No one was really doing that so I wanted to be the first to do so with Scottish salmon.
I started my business from home, initially setting up in my garden. My first ever smoke was carried out in a cardboard box and my third smoke was in a stainless steel bin. I realized really quickly that I was producing something really good. I was getting a lot of great feedback from my family and friends so I decided to build a small shed which I used as my smokehouse in my garden. I started to produce around 10 sides of salmon every week. This was all in January last year when the company was initially registered.
Mark Heirs

Having grown up in the hospitality industry, working in the kitchens of his parent’s pubs and restaurants, becoming a chef was the only career path Mark considered.
After leaving catering college in Glasgow, Mark honed his culinary skills in top restaurants such as Glasgow’s One Devonshire Gardens and Heston Blumenthal’s 3 Michelin starred Fat Duck. Mark then went on to make it to the final 16 of the very first series of BBC’s Masterchef the Professionals in 2008. Since then he’s spent time teaching in a high profile cookery school and was a partner in his family’s restaurant business.
However, in 2014 Mark made the tough decision to move away from cooking in restaurants and turn his attention to becoming a private chef, a decision which in 4 short years has seen Mark become one of the most respected and sought after private chefs in the country, recently he was crowned Private Chef of the Year 2018. Mark travels the globe cooking for a very exclusive client base which includes some of the biggest Hollywood stars and the world’s most respected business tycoons.
Away from the glitz and glamour of being a private chef Mark is a regular face on Scottish television and hosts cookery demonstrations at food festivals across the UK.
Mark is also an ambassador for Miele, the premium kitchen appliance brand and also Springboard, the UK’s hospitality charity. He is a huge supporter of Springboard’s FutureChef programe and spends an enormous amount of his free time in schools and colleges inspiring the next generation of chefs.

 Following are a few of Mark's delicious creations using Scottish Seafood and a bit about each product:


Well known around the world, Scottish salmon has received Protected Geographical Indication status, placing it alongside products such as Parmigiano-Reggiano and Champagne. Now the world’s third-largest salmon producer, including both farmed and wild caught fish, Scotland prides itself on the quality of the salmon, crediting the clear, cold and pristine waters of the Highlands and Islands, the strong currents, and the dedication and expertise of both fisher and farmer.

Scottish farmed salmon was awarded the French Government’s top quality award, Label Rouge, over a quarter of a century ago, being the first non-French food ever to receive this accolade.

Barbecued Salmon with Pickled Cucumber Salad 
Serves 4
·      4 Scottish salmon fillets, around 200g each
·      50 ml (3 tablespoons) Cold pressed Scottish rapeseed oil
·      ½ Lime 

Pickled cucumber salad:
·      1 Large cucumber
·      100ml White wine vinegar
·      150ml Cold water
·      1 tsp Mustard seeds
·      1 Banana shallot (finely sliced) * See Note
·      2 tsp Caster (superfine) sugar
·      2 tsp Sea salt flakes
·      10g Fresh dill (finely chopped)
·      ½ Lime (juice and zest)
·      10ml Summer Harvest cold pressed rapeseed oil

To Garnish:
·      50g Crème fraiche 

1.    To make the pickled cucumber place the water, vinegar, mustard seeds, shallot, sugar and salt into a sauce pan and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes then remove from the heat and allow to cool until just warm.
2.    Using a vegetable peeler, peel the cucumber lengthways into long ribbons stopping when you start to see the seeds appearing in the center. Place the cucumber ribbons into the warm liquor and leave for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes drain off the liquor, add the dill, lime and cold pressed rapeseed oil, mix to ensure the cucumber is well coated and set aside. So as not to waste the core of the cucumber, cut it into slices and cook on the barbecue alongside the salmon. 
3.    For the salmon, coat each fillet in the oil and place directly onto the barbecue, you want to cook the salmon on a medium heat so the center cooks through without the outside burning. It’s best served ever so slightly under-done in the center, however if you prefer you can cook it all the way through. It will take 3mins on each side, take care when turning the fish over not to break up the fillet. Once cooked remove from the barbecue season with salt and pepper and a little squeeze of fresh lime.  
4.    To plate up, place a small spoonful of crème fraiche to the left of the serving plate and place your salmon fillet on top. Place the ribbons of cucumber to the side of the salmon along with more spoonfuls of the crème fraiche and dress with dill leaves and barbecued cucumber (optional). 

* A banana shallot or eschalion if like a cross between a shallot and an onion with a long elongated shape.


Scotland catches the world’s largest share of langoustine in its nutrient-rich waters. This species, also known as Nephrops or the Dublin Bay Prawn, depending on where you are, is a versatile, flavourful shellfish related to the lobster, and caught in the North Sea and Inshore Scottish waters.
Growing up to 250 grams, Scottish langoustines are particularly exceptional because they are allowed to mature naturally in their own time within the country’s cold, clear, waters, hence fully developing in size and flavour complexity.

Prime fishing season for Scottish langoustine begins in October, but they are widely available throughout most of the year. Along with other shellfish such as mussels, king scallops, and Pacific oysters, they contribute to the wide variety of shellfish available throughout the North Sea and inshore Scottish waters.

Like other shellfish, langoustines are versatile and can cook in minutes, their meaty tail, soft prawn-like texture and sweet flavour making them a favourite of chefs around the world.  

Charred Langoustines with Lemon Mayo 
Serves: 4 People
·      12 Large langoustine tails
·      1 tsp Cold pressed Scottish rapeseed oil

Parsley & Dill Butter
·      10g Flat leaf parsley
·      10g Dill
·      150g   Unsalted butter (soft)
·      1 Garlic clove (crushed) 

Lemon Mayo:
·      3 Egg yolks
·      1 tsp   Dijon mustard
·      Pinch Salt 
·      Pinch White pepper 
·      2 tbsp Cider vinegar
·      300ml Cold pressed Scottish rapeseed oil
·      2 Lemon zest

To Garnish:
·      Charred lemon  

1.    To make the parsley and dill butter, place all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until smooth, transfer into a small bowl and set aside until required.  
2.    For the lemon mayo, place the egg yolks, mustard, salt, pepper and vinegar into the food processor and blitz until all the ingredients are combined. Turn the food processor to a low speed and slowly drip in the rapeseed oil until the mixture becomes think and pale in color, when all the oil is added you should have a smooth thick mayonnaise. Add the lemon zest and a few drops of lemon juice to season and place in the fridge until required.  
3.    To cook the langoustines, lightly oil the shells and place in a smoking hot heavy frying pan, cook on high for 3-4 minutes until the shells start to char, then turn down to a low heat and add 1 tbsp of the parsley and dill butter and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Ensure all of the langoustines are coated in the hot butter.
4.    Transfer to a serving plate and serve with a spoonful of the lemon mayo and a wedge of charred lemon.   


Scotland boasts two main species of crabs for export, the Brown and Velvet Crab. Both are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.  The Brown crab (Cancer Pegurus) are traditionally fished by pot and creel, mostly around the west coast and the Scottish isles.  They have a very sweet white meat in the claws, while the brown meat in the head is richer and particularly high in omega-3 and other beneficial vitamins and minerals, such as copper (over 50 times the amount found in chicken and important in immune function). Male crabs range from one to two kilograms with an estimated yield of 35%.

Popular on the European continent, velvet crab are caught in the North Sea and west of Scotland, mainly from inshore waters. They are fished using mobile gear, pots, and creels. Although they have variable availability during the first half of the year, they are widely available from July to December.

Crab and Mussel Linguine 
Serves 4
·      400g   Dried linguine
·      4 tbsp Rapeseed oil
·      1 Red chilli (finely diced)
·      1 Garlic clove (finely chopped)
·      1 Whole picked crab or 100g brown meat and 250g white meat
·      250g   Scottish mussels
·      50ml   Good quality white wine
·      1 Roasted red pepper (cut into thin strips)
·      squeeze fresh lemon
·      10g Flat leaf parsley (roughly chopped)
1.    Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Once boiling add the linguine and stir. Cook for 10-12 minutes or follow directions on the packaging.
2.    For the sauce, heat the oil in a sauce pan and fry the chilli, garlic and sliced roasted red pepper for 2-3 minutes, add the white wine and mussels, place on a lid and cook until the mussels steam open. Remove from the heat and stir in the crab meat and the lemon juice.
3.    Once the pasta has cooked, drain the pasta, mix with the sauce and sprinkle over the chopped parsley.
4.    To serve place in a warm deep pasta bowl making sure you have plenty of the sauce and mussels in each bowl.  


There is an abundance of whitefish in Scotland, including halibut, haddock, cod, saithe (also know as coley), whiting, hake, and monkfish.

Without a doubt, Scotland’s favourite whitefish is haddock. Caught in the North Sea and off the west coast of Scotland, haddock is a sweet-flavoured fish with medium to large flakes. It is versatile for many cooking methods. Like many other fish from Scotland’s waters, Scottish haddock has been certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.

Also caught in the North Sea, cod is a sweet-flavoured fish with large, succulent white flakes, lending itself to a great variety of filleting options and cooking methods. Did you know: if you order fish and chips in most of England, it’ll likely be cod. In Scotland and the north of England, however, it’ll likely be haddock. Both are delicious, of course – especially when they’re premium Scottish whitefish.

Another of Scotland’s premium whitefish is its monkfish. This species has a firm, meaty flesh coupled with a sweet, shellfish-like flavour. The tail is generally the most popular cut, and the cheeks and livers are regarded as a premium delicacy across Europe and in countries such as Japan.

Halibut with Wild Mushrooms and Celeriac   
Serves 4
·      4 Halibut portions (about 150g each)  
·      Pinch Sea salt
·      Pinch White pepper
·      25ml   Rapeseed oil
·      20g     Unsalted butter 
·      ½ Lemon 
·      10g Micro arugula leaves
For the Mushrooms
·      20g Butter
·      ½ Shallot (finely diced)
·      1 Garlic clove (finely diced)
·      250g   Wild mushrooms - preference is Girolles (Chanterelle) when in season
·      10ml   PX Sherry vinegar * (See note)
·      10g     Flat parsley (finely chopped) 

For the celeriac puree:  
·      400g   Celeriac (Celery Root) (peeled and diced) 
·      500ml Chicken stock  
·      50g Unsalted butter
·      100ml Double cream  
·      Pinch Sea salt 
·      Pinch Ground white pepper           

1.    For the celeriac puree, place the celeriac and chicken stock into a sauce pan and simmer gently until the celeriac is cooked through and tender. Drain off the chicken stock and place the celeriac in a liquidizer and blitz until smooth then add the butter, cream, salt and pepper and blitz again until you have a smooth velvet-like puree. Set aside and keep warm until required. 
2.    To prepare the mushrooms, in a frying pan melt the butter and gently fry the shallot and garlic until softened, add the wild mushrooms and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the sherry vinegar and cook until the vinegar has reduced then add the chopped parsley and set aside while you cook the halibut.
3.    For the halibut, season both sides with salt and pepper. In a frying pan, heat the rapeseed oil and place the halibut into the hot oil, cook on one side for 3 minutes then gently turn the fish over being careful not to break up the fish. Continue to cook for a further 1 minute then add the butter to the pan. Once the butter melts and starts to foam, baste the halibut with the hot butter. Remove the halibut from the pan and season with a squeeze of lemon.
4.    To plate, spread the base of a warm plate with the celeriac puree then place the halibut on top. Carefully top the halibut with the wild mushrooms and garnish with some micro arugula leaves.

Chef’s Note:  Chef uses Pedro Ximenez Sherry Vinegar DOP, an aged Sherry Vinegar that can be purchased on Amazon.


Mackerel is Scotland’s most abundant species. With its strong, unique flavour, it should come as no surprise that the species continues to grow in popularity around the world.

This oil-rich fish is a healthy choice for consumers, as it is high in omega-3 and other vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B6 and B12. In fact, mackerel has nearly twice the amount of omega-3 that Scottish salmon contains. Atlantic mackerel are also very low in mercury, unlike their King and Spanish mackerel counterparts.

Despite its wide popularity, mackerel shoals can be found in abundance, especially in the autumn (September to November) and winter (January and February) months. If mackerel is not sold and eaten fresh on the day of catching, it must be frozen, smoked, or canned.

Ranging in size from 200-800 grams, mackerel has a distinct, bullet-shaped body, with silvery-blue skin and dark, wavy stripes. What really sets this fish apart, however, is its versatility. Highly rated in Japanese culture, mackerel is great for smoking, and it also makes for a nutritious, delicious pâté. Its rich flavours work beautifully with a range of other flavours, including sharp sauces such as citrus.

Grilled Mackerel with Tomato Salad  
Serves 4
·      4 Mackerel fillets 
·      25ml Rapeseed oil
·      pinch sea salt
·      pinch black pepper

For the tomato salad: 
·      300g   Heirloom tomatoes (sliced)
·      1 Red chilli (finely diced) 
·      ½ Red onion (finely diced)
·      1 Lime (juice and zest)
·      50ml   Extra virgin olive oil (preference is Greek)
·      pinch Sea salt
·      pinch Freshly ground black pepper
·      20g Red vein sorrel leaves 

1.    For the tomato salad, mix together the chilli, onion, lime juice and zest, olive oil, salt and pepper and add in the sliced tomatoes and gently mix to ensure the tomatoes are coated in the dressing. Set aside until required.
2.    For the mackerel coat each fillet in the rapeseed oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on flat metal tray and slide under a preheated grill set to its hottest setting. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the mackerel skin starts to color and blister. No need to flip the fillets over; the heat from the grill will be enough to cook them all the way through.
3.    To serve, mix the sorrel leaves through the tomato salad and place a large spoonful of the salad to the side of a serving plate. Remove the mackerel from the grill and place a fillet on each plate next to the tomato. Serve while the mackerel is still hot.

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