Tag: Fish

‘Healthy seas supporting productive fisheries’

As an island nation we’re fortunate to have access to some great fish and seafood, particularly here in Cornwall in particular where we are surrounded by the sea on three sides and have a well-managed fishing industry.

Because of the importance of Cornish-caught fish to the local economy (both the fishers who work our waters and the fish merchants and restaurants and cafes that sell and serve their catch), and the fragility of harvesting wild fish and seafood from the ocean, it’s important that all of us make well-informed and sustainable decisions about what we eat. At various points in the past fish stocks of certain species or particular areas have been overfished or damaging methods used, and stocks have critically declined or collapsed. It happened with the Cornish pilchard and herring fisheries through the early decades of the 20th century, and with mackerel in the mid 1980s (in 1989 the European Economic Community introduced the 6,7000km2 ‘Mackerel Box’ covering the waters around Southwest England and Southwest Wales in which there is a ban on targeted fishing for mackerel by trawlers and purse seiners, and where a hand-line fishery operates with a separate quota allocation). It’s important that we don’t let these sorts of collapses happen again, for the sake of the marine environment and the livelihoods of people who work in the fishing industry, many of whom in Cornwall fish inshore from small boats using inherently sustainable methods. So that’s not to say that we can’t eat fish and shellfish at all, we just need to make informed decisions that are environmentally and economically sustainable.

That’s where the Cornwall Good Seafood Guide comes in.

“The Cornish fishing industry is something we should all be proud of, but knowing what fish to buy is a complicated issue. The Cornwall Good Seafood Guide is an incredible resource that is constantly updated so that consumers as well as those in the fishing and food industries can plainly see what’s best and most sustainable to eat.”

Matt Slater, Marine Awareness Officer & Project Lead, Cornwall Wildlife Trust
fisherman holding a freshly caught pollack on his boat

Launched in 2015 and led by Cornwall Wildlife Trust in partnership with representatives from Cornwall’s fishing industry, the Cornwall Good Seafood Guide aims to help us consumers to eat more sustainable and locally caught seafood. It uses the Marine Conservation Society’s sustainable seafood rating system that is known nationwide, and applies it to fish and shellfish available in Cornwall using local data about fisheries’ health to promote or protect certain species.
Alongside their rating system, fishers, fish-sellers and restaurants can apply to be supporters of the Cornwall Good Seafood guide meaning they have taken a pledge to highlight sustainable Cornish seafood and to offer it to their customers. Philleigh Way Cookery School are supporters and we are proud to be helping spread the word about this vital and important project.

We recently caught up with Oscar Miller, Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Fisheries Liaison and Marine Business Advisor, to find out more about how Cornwall Good Seafood Guide came to be, how it’s developed, and what’s in store for the scheme.

fishing boat in hgarbour with colourful buoys hanging over the side

What was it that prompted the creation of a sustainable seafood guide specific to Cornwall?

For years the members of Cornwall Wildlife Trust were asking for information on seafood – what to eat and what not to eat. We found it was very difficult to find information on the subject, and hard for experts let alone members of the public to make well-informed choices. We decided to work to bring together information on all of Cornwall’s fishing industry into one place where the public could get unbiased information on sustainability. We wanted to rate seafood on its sustainability but rather than create our own system for doing that we decided to work with an existing system – the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Guide – to provide clear, detailed information on the sustainability of Cornwall’s seafood. The aim is to help businesses and consumers make well informed choices and to help incentivise and steer the fishing industry in a more sustainable direction for the long-term benefit of fishers and our amazing marine environment and its wildlife. Well-managed fisheries provide the most efficient way to provide high quality protein, however poorly managed fisheries result in over fishing and depleted fish populations meaning that fishers and the marine environment are worse off. It’s in everyone’s interest to get fishing right – using the methods with the lowest impact and managing effort to ensure that fish populations are allowed to recover and stay high. This makes the system far more productive and yields the best possible annual catches without risking overfishing.

small inshore fishing day boat returning to port in porthleven, cornwall, followed by a flock 
of gulls

How has the project developed over the last eight years?

We now have a huge amount of traffic to our website, with over 10,000 visitors each month. We have noticed a real improvement in understanding of the industry, and increased awareness from businesses and the public about what to eat and the need for good fisheries management to prevent unsustainable fishing.

How have the fishing industry, hospitality industry, and consumers responded?

Many businesses have changed their menus and have offered local sustainable seafood to their customers. The public are definitely asking businesses and seafood sellers more questions. We have seen a big increase in the number of people buying seafood online, particularly since COVID, and many fish sellers now use our logo to highlight sustainable Cornish options to their customers. Consumers are now far better informed, which is positive. Prices for sustainable seafood are responding well, so fishers are being rewarded for fishing well. Many large buyers of seafood will avoid species with poor ratings so the information is definitely having an impact and incentivising improved fishing management.

chef tutor christian sharpe preparing sole at philleigh way cookery school

Does the project have an end goal or is it ever evolving and reactive to circumstances?

The fishing industry is always changing – at the moment the management of fishing is massively changing due to our leaving the EU, and we are now faced with an opportunity to get fisheries management right for the long term benefit of the fishing industry and the marine environment. It is vital that the public are kept well informed and that we continue to realise the importance of good management of fisheries. Climate change is also creating massive changes in the distribution of fish species across the Atlantic Ocean and over future years we are likely to see warm water species continue to thrive while cool water species decline. The situation is constantly changing and our website and ratings respond to these changes.
We hope to continue providing information to consumers and businesses for many years to come and see our project as being vital in the long term to help influence the fishing industry positively.

If you had one piece of advice for readers about consuming fish, what would it be?

Ask questions! How was it caught? Is it Cornish? Get to know your local fishers and fish sellers and ask for sustainable seafood. Visit our website to check which species and capture methods are on our recommended list. Making sure that you only eat seafood from local well managed fisheries and avoid seafood that has been transported from other areas of the world (with the associated high carbon footprint and often poorer fisheries management) is one of the best ways you can help our oceans.

freshly caught lobster and pollack in a box onboard a fishing boat next to a coiled rope

You can check out the Cornwall Good Seafood Guide here to see their list of recommended fish and shellfish, and recipes from local chefs for how to best enjoy them. If you’re buying fish or ordering it in a restaurant, look out for their logo or ask before you buy!

One billion people around the world rely on fish and seafood as their primary source of protein, with 3.3 billion getting at least 20% of their animal protein from fish. Fish and seafood are incredibly important not only for people’s diets but also for many people’s livelihoods, however the scales of sustainability aren’t always balanced and so sources and stocks need to be carefully managed and we need to consume consciously if we are to avoid catastrophic collapses. This recipe is all about helping you to do that – it’s a quick and delicious meal using tinned sardines that ticks the boxes for great value, sustainable and local fish.

Cornish Sardines and Pilchards

Cornwall has a long history of fishing for pilchards – small silver fish that we now call sardines that are caught as shoals in inshore waters. Historically, fishing boats would row out and lay a large wall of netting around a shoal of fish and then draw it in. The catch was then pressed for oil and the fish salted and laid in barrels for transport in the fish cellars that can be found in so many of Cornwall’s old fishing villages. These days fishing boats encircle the shoals with a ring net (a modern take on a purse seine net). How sustainable sardines are depends on where they are caught, but one of the most sustainable fisheries where fish stocks are actually increasing, is the Cornish fishery that catches fish in the Celtic Sea and English Channel. According to Cornwall Good Seafood Guide there are
14 vessels (all under 15m) fishing for sardines in Cornish waters. All of these boats belong to an organisation called the Cornwall Sardine Management Group and through this the Marine Stewardship Council has accredited the fishery. CEFAS (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science) carries out a survey every year and stock levels of sardines in our area appear to be healthy and improving.

tin of cornish sardines

The Benefits of Tinned Fish

Fish, particularly oily fish such as sardines, are a great source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids as well as protein. Tinned or canned fish provide just the same amount of these and have the same nutritional values as fresh fish. The benefit of canning fish is that they have a really long shelf life. The fish are processed then sealed in an airtight can, sometimes in a sauce, and the can is heated to make it sterile which also cooks the fish. Tinned fish can have a shelf life of anywhere between 1-5 years and can be eaten straight of of the tin or used in a recipe like this.

tinned sardine and tomato pici

Tinned Sardine & Tomato Pici Pasta


200g semolina flour
100ml warm water


Pici pasta (or any string pasta)

1 tin of Cornish Sardines (or any MSC certified tinned oily fish)
Handful of cherry tomatoes
1 pinch of chilli flakes
3 cloves of garlic
½ tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Fresh basil

Pangrattato (optional)


You can use shop-bought dried linguini or spaghetti. But if you want to make the pici, in a bowl weigh 200g semolina flour, add a pinch of salt and drizzle of olive oil then pour in 100ml of warm water. Combine and then begin to knead until pliable and soft like playdough. Wrap and put into the fridge for at least 30mins. Without adding any extra flour, roll the dough out into a 1cm thick round. Next, cut the dough into ¼ inch thick strips. Make the Pici – One at a time, roll each strip out on a clean work surface to resemble thick spaghetti. The pasta needs enough grip to roll so don’t add any flour or you won’t be able to roll it out. Place each piece of rolled out pici on a tray or separate area dusted with flour or semolina to stop them sticking

Heat a saucepan or high sided frying pan. Then with a little veg/rapeseed oil put the cherry tomatoes in. You’re looking to blister and burn them! Don’t be shy. While they are frying, finely chop the garlic
When the tomatoes are nicely charred and beginning to break, turn the heat down, drizle a little olive and add the garlic. Season.
Add the tinned sardines, oregano and vinegar. Gently simmer for 7-10mins. Season with black pepper and the chilli flakes. The sardines will provide enough saltiness.
Boil your pasta until al-dente then add that to the “sauce” with a little pasta water. Cook and incorporate.
Serve with torn basil leafs and pangrattato. Enjoy!

tinned sardine and tomato pici with pangratata

This summer we have a new regular guest tutor starting with us. Christian Sharp will be leading all of our Fish in a Day seafood cookery courses, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him join the team. Christian is one of the best fish chefs in the country, having trained and worked under Nathan Outlaw in Cornwall and London and then going on to work as Head Chef at Tom Brown’s award-winning The Cornerstone in Hackney Wick. He’s now back in Cornwall, and we’re very lucky to have secured him to share his knowledge, skills and experience on our fish courses.

Christian led his first course last week, and just before it we sat down to ask him some questions about his career and his love of fish cookery.

chef christian sharp holding up two fish outside philleigh way cookery school in cornwall

What was your journey into cooking in professional kitchens?

My journey into professional kitchens is probably a bit different to most other chefs. I first started working in a kitchen back when I was a teenager, working in a bakery and deli, and then at the local pub. I went off to study IT at Truro College and then after a gap year I went to study IT at university. I decided though that the classroom was no longer for me and that I was much better at learning in a hands-on environment, so I left university and I decided to comeback to Cornwall. I approached Nathan Outlaw on a bit of a whim. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, I just needed a job and I had all this kitchen experience from working in Di’s Dairy and at the Pityme Inn in Rock through my teenage years. Nathan decided to take me on as a commis chef at the St Enodoc Hotel in Rock back in 2012. Whilst working there I joined Cornwall College and went back to study part-time to get my level 2 and 3 qualifications. I went from commis to demi chef de partis, then chef de partis, and I then went to work at The Fish Kitchen in Port Isaac and was a sous chef there when we were awarded a Michelin star. I then went back to St Enodoc and ran the Seafood and Grill restaurant until we closed down the operation there in 2015 to move to London for Nathan.

chefs nathan outlaw and christian sharp

And how did you end up specialising in cooking fish?

That all came about because I learnt my trade under Nathan Outlaw. It was very fish focused. I would say that I was also fortunate though, because working in St Enodoc Seafood and Grill and at Outlaw’s at The Capital we were also cooking with meat, so I had a fairly broad culinary education. I’m happy that I’ve ended up focusing on fish, though. I love fish and working for Nathan and then for Tom at The Cornerstone, and it’s part of my Cornish heritage. My grandfather was a crab fisherman from Port Isaac, a long time ago, and so it’s something that’s very close to my heart.

fisherman holding a crab

You were part of the vanguard of young Cornish chefs who worked under Nathan Outlaw and took London by storm in 2015 (?). What were those years like, initially at Outlaw’s at The Capital and then at The Cornerstone?

Just before we moved to London, I closed down the St Enodoc Seafood and Grill. Tom had already moved up there because at the same time Nathan was opening a restaurant in Dubai. It was a big transition period throughout the company. For me, moving to London was massive – I was excited but it was the first time that I was properly moving away from home. I’d been on a gap year and been to university, but home was always home and this was the first time I was leaving my parents house really. Going to work out at Outlaw’s at The Capital was an eye opener and a bit of a culture shock, but it was brilliant. Even though it was the same kind of food, Nathan’s food, it was a completely different restaurant. It was amazing. I was surprised that St Enodoc never got a Michelin star but The Capital did, because it was exactly the same, really. It was the same food, the same standard, the same team. The Fish Kitchen had a Michelin star, but I think I took it for granted at the time. Coming to work at this five star hotel in the middle of Knightsbridge was a whole new experience though, especially at 24 years of age.
After a year or so at Outlaw’s at The Capital I was ready to take the next step in my career. Tom had always had plans to open The Cornerstone and going to work with him there was a great opportunity. The Cornerstone was my first head chef job. It was a massive new arrival on the restaurant scene in London and we took it by storm. I don’t know if we were quite ready for it! I put my absolute all into it, but there was no self-care and I was just all about the restaurant. I would do anything that I could to make sure that the restaurant was successful. We hit the ground running super fast, but it definitely took a toll on me – it started to impact on my health and wellbeing. My mental health started to suffer and so that’s the reason that I left and have come home to Cornwall. I still love the restaurant to bits and I keep in touch with some of the team there still. I’m working at Flying Fish now, supplying fish to the best restaurants in the country and am really excited about these courses at Philleigh Way. It all carries on my passion for fish. I love cooking it, dealing with it, supplying the restaurants in London with the best fish. I feel like I have so much to offer in that field. I’m looking forward to giving back to the industry.

christian sharp demonstrating how to fillet lemon sole at philleigh way cookery school

From where or whom do you take your inspiration?

Because I worked with Nathan and Tom for so long, that’s very much led my cooking style in terms of it being simple, seafood cookery. I don’t like to overcomplicate things, I’m more than happy to do fish with a sauce and some vegetables. For me you’ve got to keep that fish nice and simple. If you buy the best fish then you don’t want to mask that flavour. So my inspiration originally came from Nathan, and from Tom. I like to read a lot from Mitch Tonks, I think his seafood cookery is amazing. I also like to step outside of my box in terms of the different kinds of flavours, but then simplify it so that I’m not taking all those flavours and detracting from my fish.

Consumers are becoming more and more aware of provenance and some of the issues surrounding the fish that we eat. What opportunities do you see for positive change and how do you hope to see things develop?

People are definitely becoming more aware about that. Across the world there are issues with harmful fishing practices, and that’s come to the public’s attention again recently. Fish is very good for you, it’s full of omega 3 and a great source of protein. I feel that we should always know where our fish has been sourced from and how it was caught. Your local fishmonger should know this (if they don’t, then you should probably find a different fishmonger!) There has to be traceability, and there has to be sustainable fishing methods. If you buy line caught fish from British day boats, or even fish that has been gill-netted, they’re more sustainable fishing methods. We have good fishing practices in Cornwall and all around the UK. So find out where you fish comes from. It’s the bigger picture, when you start looking at imported fish, and in lots of other parts of the world there are problems with overfishing. If we look after our local fish stocks then we shouldn’t need to worry about it.

fishing boat in padstow harbour

If you could bust one myth about seafood, what would it be?

Lots of people say that seafood is difficult to cook, but for me this is not true. One of the things that I’m looking forward to sharing at Philleigh Way, is how fish doesn’t need to be difficult to cook, or overcomplicated. I want to share simple, unique and delicious ways to cook seafood. Some species are hard to get hold of, but I’ll also use species that you can get hold of really easily from supermarkets and show that it needn’t be intimidating

chef christian sharp teaching fish cookery at philleigh way cookery school

Do you have a favourite dish, to cook or to eat?

That’s a really difficult question to answer, because when I’m cooking fish, it really depends on the time of year. In the summer, who doesn’t love putting a mackerel on the barbecue? Then in winter, something nice and meaty like monkfish. It all depends on what fish is in season at that time, when that fish is at it’s best, that’s when I’m going to enjoy cooking it the most. The top restaurants only really use fish that’s in season because that’s when it’s at its best.
I love cooking turbot on the bone and just basting it with butter, or something as simple as cooking a fillet of lemon sole that takes less than a minute. I love eating all fish, and I love Nathan’s versions of a cream based sauce, it’s basically a mayonnaise but it’s let down with stock and you get the same effect as a cream sauce but it’s a lot lighter. It’s so clever. But then also I don’t mind just a nice piece of fish kept very simple, with a lemon wedge and a bowl of potatoes. Let the fish shine.


Having worked for and alongside so many other talented and high profile chefs, what’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given?

I’ve been given a lot of advice over the years, although I’ve not always taken it all onboard! The one piece that I stand by every day is not necessarily to do with the kitchen though.
Because I was so stuck into my career and wanted the best for the restaurants I worked at, I really damaged myself. So the best piece of advice was from a chef called Phil Howard. He used to have The Square and I worked with him at Elliston Street for a month or so. It’s helped me get back to where I am. It’s simply that you need to look after number one. You’re the most important person to you, and if you don’t look after yourself then how can you do your job?
I worked hard. I worked long hours and hard shifts, and I didn’t look after number one. I would probably still be cooking in London, if I had. But I burnt myself out. I’m back in Cornwall now, but I’m not disappointed about that at all. It was a tough time, but now I’m back, and I’m settled, and I’m getting a different kind of enjoyment from cooking. Now I get to share all of my experience from the top fish restaurants in the country with all of the people who’ll be coming on these courses, which I’m really looking forward to.

And what piece of advice would you share with enthusiastic home cooks?

Always use what’s in season. The best ingredients, when they’re at their best. It’ll elevate everything. When an ingredient is that good, the less you have to do to it. Give yourself plenty of time. Keep it simple.
And, a workman should never blame his tools but a good pan, a good knife, and a good chopping board will help you no end… you’re only as good as what you’re using. Treat yourself to some of that.

chef christian sharp demonstrating fish filleting at philleigh way cookery school

What skills and recipes are you looking forward to sharing on your courses at Philleigh Way?

Coming from fish restaurants, the temperature of your frying pan or the cooking method and technique is going to be something that I really want to share on these courses. For example, if I was going to pan fry a piece of hake I’d use a hot pan, if I was going to pan fry gilt head bream, I’d start off in a cold pan. I love the variation in how to cook fish. Even not having to cook fish! I love eating raw and cured fish too, so we’ll be looking at some of those recipes. Little tips, like lightly curing your fish before cooking, to draw out a bit of the moisture and firm it up so that you can pan fry flaky fish like hake and cod and it’s easier to cook and it doesn’t fall apart in the pan. I want to share my tips for how to get the best results from your fish, because it can be an expensive ingredient and I want people to enjoy cooking it, and enjoy eating it.

chef christian sharp teaching fish cookery at philleigh way cookery school

Christian’s next Fish in a Day cookery courses at Philleigh Way will be taking place on Saturday 7th August, Wednesday 8th September and Saturday 23rd October.

Click here to book your place.

Romanesco is a tomato-based sauce that originated from Valls, Tarragona, Catalonia. The fishermen in this area made this sauce to be eaten with fish. It is typically made from any mixture of roasted peppers and tomatoes and garlic, toasted almonds, pine nuts, and/or hazelnuts, olive.

It goes with anything, but if you want to up your fish intake then hit up some great local suppliers and give romanesco sauce a go! I like to serve it as pictured, with pan fried hake and tapenade, finished with a sprinkling of parsley.


  • 100g almonds
  • 200g roasted red peppers from a jar, drained (or BBQ/grill them)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar , plus extra to season (optional)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 50ml olive oil


Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan for 3-4 mins until starting to turn golden and smelling toasted. Shake the pan often to turn them. Tip out and leave to cool.

Drain the red peppers and tip into a food processor with the almonds, garlic, vinegar and smoked paprika, then blitz to a chunky paste.

With the motor still on, slowly drizzle in the olive oil to make a dip. A bit of texture works well for this rather than blending to a super smooth consistency. Season well, adding a little more vinegar, if you like.

About Wild Garlic

It’s the season for ramsons, better known as wild garlic because of the pungent smell that fills old woodlands at this time of year.  Early in the season, through March and into April, is the best time to pick a few of the young leaves where and when you come across a large carpet of them under the trees.  Most people use wild garlic leaves to make pesto, but it can and should be so much more than that.  Now that we’re a few weeks in to their season, if you’ve had your fill of wild garlic pesto and want to try something else then here’s a great recipe that combines them with wonderful Cornish sole.

ramsons wild garlic

About Cornish Sole

Cornish sole is the new name being used for megrim sole, a flat fish that is remarkably good value and incredibly popular on the continent – so much so that until Brexit regulations put a stop to most exports, 95% of the megrim sole landed in Cornwall was shipped to mainland Europe.  It’s now being renamed Cornish sole in the hope that a new name will tempt more domestic consumers to try it.  Cornish sole caught by demersal trawl is deemed more sustainable by the Cornish Good Seafood Guide so try to get that if you can, then pick a handful of wild garlic leaves on your next walk and give this recipe a go!

Cornish Sole and Wild Garlic Saag Aloo


  • Cornish sole (the fish formerly known as megrim sole) fillets (2 per person)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 500g potato, cut into 2cm (¾in) chunks
  • 1 large red chilli, halved, deseeded and finely sliced
  • ½ tsp each black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric
  • Large handful wild garlic leaves


Heat 2 tbsp sunflower oil in a large pan, add 1 finely chopped onion, 2 sliced garlic cloves and 1 tbsp chopped ginger, and fry for about 3 mins

Stir in 500g potatoes, cut into 2cm chunks, 1 halved, deseeded and finely sliced red chilli, ½ tsp black mustard seeds, ½ tsp cumin seeds, ½ tsp turmeric and ½ tsp salt and continue cooking and stirring for 5 mins more.

Add a splash of water, cover, and cook for 8-10 mins

Check the potatoes are ready by spearing with the point of a knife, and if they are, add wild garlic leaves and let it wilt into the pan.

Finally lay the fish over the top of the potatoes (adjust liquid if necessary) season and put the lid on the pan. Steam for 2-4 mins as the fish turns white you’ll know it’s cooked!

It is said that cheese and fish don’t go together, but I’d say there are a couple of exceptions: fish pie, and this recipe. This dish is a cross between a kedgeree and a classic rarebit. It’s simple, full of flavour, and amazing for brunch or a light lunch.

You will need:

  • 2 fillets Smoked haddock (or other smoked fish)
  • 25g Butter
  • 200ml Milk
  • Cheese – lots! (I used parmesan and gruyère, but you could use a good cheddar)
  • 1tbsp Crème fraîche
  • 1tsp Mustard
  • 1tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1tbsp Flour
  • Lemon – zested and half juiced
  • Nutmeg – to grate
  • Chives to garnish
  • 2 thick slices of Bread
smoked haddock rarebit

You can find more of our recipe videos over on our YouTube channel.

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