Welsh Seafood Endorsed by Top Chefs – What’s on Offer?
From Rhyl in the North to Cardiff in the South the dark, churning and crystal clear waters of coastal Wales contain some of the best fish and shellfish in the world.
Pre-Brexit the majority of the catch from this superb fishing ground was being exported but since the reopening of restaurants post-lockdown the Welsh fishing community is keen to keep the best of the haul for the UK home market.
That means chefs can take advantage of unique new access to Welsh lobster, crab, mussels, scallops and sea bass – to name a few of the delicacies that are now available. Welsh Seafood comes from Class A and Class B graded waters – meaning that the water quality is of a very high standard around the coastline.
What’s on offer?
Welsh Lobster are caught by fishermen using small day boats – less than 10m on the whole and the method of catching is by using Lobster Pots. Fishers that are taking part in the Welsh Lobster Banding and Branding project have pledged to fish Welsh Lobster sustainably by allowing berried hens to return into the sea to reproduce and secure stocks for the future, and also the use of escape hatches which allows juvenile lobsters to exit the pots as they are below the minimum landing size.
Before they are cooked, lobsters have a dark bluish shell, and gains its distinctive deep orange colour upon cooking. Welsh Lobster are available throughout the year (weather permitting).
Welsh Brown Crab are caught the same way as lobsters and can be bought live or dressed.
Welsh sea bass are completely wild and line-caught from the coast. The distinctive spikes explains its Welsh name of Draenog y Môr, (translated as Hedgehog of the Sea).
There are mussel beds and rope grown mussel farms scattered across Wales, from the Menai Straits, to Pembrokeshire.
Welsh scallops are not dredged as they are in some other parts of the UK. They are harvested or hand-gathered by divers in some parts of Wales.
There are two main oyster varieties available in Wales: The Pacific Oyster and Native Oysters.
Cultivated through Aquaculture and maintaining the seed-beds as a sustainable resource, the more commonly available, and faster growing, Pacific oysters are readily available to buy throughout the year, while the Native oyster, tends to be mostly available from September to April, although it takes twice as long to grow as other varieties and is usually more expensive to buy.
There are two companies specialising in Fresh Welsh Oysters of both Native and Pacific Oysters within the Seafood Cluster – Atlantic Edge Oysters in Pembrokeshire, and Menai Oysters in the North. Both will courier Oysters for delivery anywhere in the UK.
Welsh Fish Facts
Welsh Seafood is not intensively farmed (with the exception of the natural aquaculture in mussels and oysters) and is caught sustainably in the wild and is readily available from our numerous merchants and sole traders. When bought directly from the fisher or the aqua culturist, you can have full provenance of where the seafood was caught, by whom, and into which port it was landed.
Where to Buy
Many merchants and fishermen now offer a courier service anywhere in the UK.
Nia Griffith, North Wales Seafood Cluster Manager said
“Our coastline is so varied and rich with an abundance of different species but what makes it so special is that our fishermen come from generations of families who’ve always fished. They use small boats and care very deeply for the sustainable nature of the business. It’s their heritage and they want to pass it on.
“When it comes to species like scallops (and lobsters) we take the matter of dredging very seriously. This is done on a small scale and the fishermen actually consider themselves to be conservationists because if they over dredge they ruin the sea bed and with it their livelihood. So, it’s taken very seriously and the chefs that we supply can always rely on that.”
Take a look at these four top chefs creating stunning dishes using Welsh Seafood…
Richard Davies, Executive Chef at Calcot & Spa
“Absolutely stunning lobster from the Welsh Seafood Cluster. Really high in Omega 3 and vitamins A and D. Perfect for anyone on a high protein diet.”
Hywel Jones, Executive Chef at Lucknam Park
“The reason I chose this product is that Welsh crab is some of the best crab I have ever come across. It’s best season is between April and November so a perfect time of year for it.”
David Kelman, Head Chef at Cowley Manor
“I chose to work with Welsh line caught sea bass which is stunning. My dish includes curried cauliflower and cauliflower couscous and well as local, seasonal, herbs.”
Tom Westerland, Head Chef at Crockers Henley
“I love Welsh seafood and it was a pleasure to work with Welsh oysters, mussels and scallops. Absolutely fantastic.”