Despite being up before dawn every day, Thor and Kristian Mummery (their mum is Danish) are still full of enthusiasm running their stall on Bury and Diss markets. In fact, starting at 04:00 they’ve accomplished most of their day’s work before most of their customers are out of bed. The two brothers (Kristian is the elder) are honouring a family tradition; members of their family have been buying fish in Lowestoft for 150 years. Both have sons who help run the stall, so the family dynasty seems set to continue. Rather than buy from an intermediary, the boys attend the fish auction every day, practically next door to their unit on Lowestoft Trawl Fish Market where they clean and prepare their fish themselves. They know exactly the provenance of the fish they sell, most of which, as they are keen to tell you, will have been landed the day before.
There is no way of providing fresh fish any fresher!
Sometimes I think fish deserves to be cooked simply the better to enjoy its flavour. I learnt the technique of cooking en papillote from Mitch Tonks’ excellent book, Fish. Certain restaurants will serve a small part of a fish as a main course and while I wouldn’t serve a whole brill, for example, I think that most fish deserves to be served whole.
A word on the en papillote technique. Essentially, this involves roasting the fish (almost any fish can be cooked this way) tightly wrapped in greaseproof paper with appropriate flavouring. Fish with spines or exposed bones – this doesn’t apply here – can puncture the paper and leak the juices, in which case wrapping the paper parcel in tin foil works; however, in my experience this prolongs the cooking time considerably. As it is, this depends on exposing the fish to a fierce heat for a short time.
This fish suffers from an identity crisis, known variously as Cornish sole, witch sole, megrim, whiff, fluke and, in France, salope, which translates as slut, slag or bitch. Nice. Let’s stick to Torbay sole. Mummery Brothers will sell you fabulous Torbay sole at a very reasonable price – today I paid £6.00 for two. This serves two.
INGREDIENTS: 2 Torbay sole of a size of your preference, 100g butter, handful of parsley, freshly chopped sea salt and pepper
METHOD: Heat the oven to 220â°C. Wash the fish and pat dry. Roll out two lengths of greaseproof paper equivalent in length to twice that of the fish. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the parsley. Drop a small amount of the butter and parsley onto one end of each sheet of greaseproof paper. Place the fish on top, and then pour half the butter/parsley mix over each, with some salt. Fold the paper over and roll it up around each fish.
Cook for 12 minutes. A meat thermometer inserted into the fish should show 60â°. Serve with steamed courgettes and new potatoes, Jersey Royals if in season.
Recommended specially for this dish by Christopher Batten at Thomas Peatling.
Xabregas: Chardonnay 2006 Show Reserve. Mount Barker, Western Australia. £15.61
Chris writes: “A mature yet still fresh and bright Aussie chardonnay. Made from free-run juice (no pressing involved) by award-winning Dr Diane Miller. The cooler growing area of Mount Barker has allowed the grapes a longer ripening period and, as a result, more flavour. Its stated capability to age for 7 years is spot-on! The age has given it the veneer of Burgundian sophistication whilst still retaining the fruit and character of Australia. The balance of the slightly stronger flavour of Torbay sole with the butter and parsley marries well with the acidity still present in the wine and further enhances its wonderful complex flavour.”
Mummery Brothers: Bury St Edmunds market Wednesday and Saturday; Diss Market Thursday and Friday. 01502 587242
Thomas Peatling: Westgate House, Westgate Street, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33 1QS. 9.00am to 6pm Monday to Friday, Saturday 10am to 2pm. 01284 755948. www.http://www.thospeatling.com/
Member since: 1st February 2013
Born in the baby boomer years, John Urquhart was educated in London and Scotland including a year as a schoolmaster before studying Medicine at St Thomas' Hospital. This took him back to London and Surrey...