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The River Cottage Fish Book: An In-Depth Guide to Sustainable Fish and Seafood

Updated on January 21, 2015

I love eating fish and seafood. I have tasted a wide variety of species over the years and only in a couple of instances have I found a particular type of fish I didn't especially like. I eat fish fried, baked, steamed, grilled, smoked - and even in certain instances, raw! In recent years, however, my experiences as a sea fisherman in particular have taught me the importance of eating only sustainable fish and seafood.

My Personal Experience of Declining Fish Stocks

I must have been about three years old the first time my Dad took me sea fishing. While I don't specifically remember the first occasion, I do have a few pre-school memories of catching fish like mackerel, coley, pollack, codling and lots more species besides. Although roughly forty years have now passed since those days in the early 1970s, the decline in fish stocks I have seen in that time is something that scares me and should scare anyone who is interested in the welfare of our seas and oceans and preserving fish species for the enjoyment of future generations. I used to fish marks where catching was once guaranteed within minutes - and where in present times, there is not a fish to be had...

Sustainability is a Learning Process

There are many reasons why I bought The River Cottage Fish Book having glanced briefly through it at a friend's house. Not least of those is the outstanding (and yes - possibly unrivalled!) reputation Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall enjoys for championing the cause of fish sustainabilty and promoting more appropriate fishing practices. Above all, however, I love the way this book takes the reader by the hand and leads them through the concept of sustainable fish and fishing. It does not simply say, "This is a sustainable fish and here is a great way to cook it!"

It took me a long time to work my way through this wonderfully in-depth book and many a thoroughly enjoyable hour was spent doing so. I don't mind admitting that even with my reasonable experience levels of everything sea fish, I learned a mountain of information from these pages. The book covers everything from identifying fish, to explaining the nutritional value of fish, to sourcing fish, to preparing fish, to cooking fish - and a hundred other things besides. Some of the mouth-watering recipes you will find in its pages have to be seen - and tasted! - to be believed.

(Note: If you happen to be reading this in the United Kingdom, you can also buy The River Cottage Fish Book directly from Amazon UK.)

Unfamiliar with the River Cottage Team? Want a Preview of the Quality their Book Represents?

The series of short videos below afford not only an introduction to the River Cottage team of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Nick Fisher, they provide an excellent but brief overview of what The River Cottage Fish Book is all about.

In the first video, you will find tips on how to choose fresh fish from your supermarket, fishmonger's or other store, while the following three provide very different ideas for cooking fresh, sustainable fish. In the final video (my favourite!), the team go boat fishing on the sea for pollack and provide a number of anglers with the perfect introduction to the sport.

Hugh and Nick offer some great tips for buying only the freshest of fish

Hugh shows how to make perfect beer batter and uses it to deep fry a variety of different types of fresh seafood

A whole fresh sea bass is baked to tender and tasty perfection in a simple salt crust

Hugh demonstrates how to hot smoke mackerel in a simple, homemade smoker

The River Cottage team go boat fishing for the hugely under-rated pollack

Sustainable Fish and Seafood - Further Reading

Fish Forever: The Definitive Guide to Understanding, Selecting, and Preparing Healthy, Delicious, and Environmentally Sustainable Seafood
Fish Forever: The Definitive Guide to Understanding, Selecting, and Preparing Healthy, Delicious, and Environmentally Sustainable Seafood

Written by the owner of the prestigious Monterey Fish Market in San Francisco, this book affords further information on sustainable fish species as well as a wide variety of recipes for the international market

Freshly caught and sustainable pollack
Freshly caught and sustainable pollack

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