This year, Don Jones Fish of Wellington, near Taunton in Somerset was voted the Best Fishmonger in the United Kingdom (a title they will hold for two years) following their 2005 award as Best Fishmonger in Southern England both awards given by the Seafish Industry Authority. Conrad Fielding, the manager under Steve Freeman, the owner, thinks they won thanks to their display (and the fish, of course). The display is an ice counter which fills the entire shop’s window, and is filled with local fish caught daily by boats from Brixham and Plymouth.
‘Most fish in the shops is caught by trawlers which are out for seven days keeping their fish on ice. The day boats go in and out every day, and their fish is really fresh.’ At this time of year, he adds, you should look out for lemon sole, brill, mackerel and local mussels along with crab, cockles and lobster. Also, try to find samphire. ‘This is a type of seaweed also known as sea asparagus because it has a similar taste. It should be boiled unsalted, because it’s quite briny, for only a minute, and served with butter exactly like asparagus.’ Don Jones Fish also has smoked haddock, kippers and salmon from Scotland. ‘Our salmon comes from Loch Duart which won the best farmed salmon in the UK award.’
Mr Fielding thinks lemon sole is underrated and Dover sole over praised. ‘You will pay about £4.50 for a good-sized lemon sole, enough for one, against £10 for a Dover sole. I like it cooked on the bone, headed and trimmed with the black skin removed. Serve it with a mild chilli and garlic butter. I also love moules marinière, simply cooked with wine, garlic and parsley (no cream) and served with masses of French bread.’ He’s quite astonished that, on our island, 90% of us eat no fish. ‘We need to eat far more, and should be looking out for pollack, ling and ray as well as fatty fish, such as mackerel, salmon and tuna.’