Having been brought up by the Dorset coast I’m mindful of the future of the ocean and the fisheries. I’ve always fished for all sorts of species, from mackerel to sailfish. Mackerel are, of course, plentiful and I keep just what I need to entertain a few friends, while species such as sailfish and salmon go straight back into river or ocean.
This summer’s ban on fishing for sea bass should encourage people to enjoy fishing as sport, releasing bass like salmon. The trawling ban in the Lyme Bay area a few years back has seen cod stocks rise, so there are advantages to restrictions for both anglers and commercial fishermen.
For me, the way forward is to showcase some of the lesser-known species on menus, and diversify cuts. I put a roasted hake head on the menu at my Oyster & Fish House in Lyme Regis last year with local cockles, rather like the classic Spanish dish with clams, and customers love it. Using every part of the fish makes it stretch further, so we aren’t hammering the prime cuts. We serve a lot of cuttlefish, which is very abundant locally and a good alternative to squid. Species like whiting, grey mullet and spider crab also appear on my menus — all fantastic.
Where to eat
The new-era chippy: When I was a kid, fish restaurants didn’t really exist. Chippies did, of course, and I remember when Arthur Watson turned his Riverside cafe into a fish restaurant that’s still a roaring success. Steve Attrill opened the Hive Beach Café in Burton Bradstock and drew in locals and tourists to enjoy great local seafood. Rick Stein put Padstow on the map and it’s great to see more and more places on our coast where you can eat simple, locally caught fish.
What to cook
When I was a kid I’d regularly bring home a carrier bag of mackerel after fishing off the pier in West Bay. My grandma would fry some up for supper and souse the rest with vinegar, shallots and carrots, which we’d snack on in the week.
The chef: Mark Hix
Published in the October 2016 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)