I love the unexpected. Having been invited to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society by Seafood Scotland, I naturally was looking forward to a delicious meal and fabulous whisky. What I didn’t expect was the chance to chat with fishermen, fish processors and a fish market owner.
It was fascinating to hear about a enormous trade exhibition in Japan – Scotland was one of more than 2000 exhibitors. Thinking I knew about discards, I heard a skipper’s perspective about the challenges that face him. (I plainly didn’t know very much at all). I discovered a passionate foodie who loves cooking and whose family has been “in fish” for years. It was all part of a mission to raise the profile of our seafood to a wider audience and the start of collaborations with like minded organisations.
Seafood Scotland have quite a challenge on their hands working throughout the supply chain to promote, market and develop responsibly and sustainably caught Scottish Seafood. Five thousand fishermen land more than 65 different species daily. In total our Scottish seafood is worth £1 billion each year and are exported to 100 markets globally. Is this our hidden secret?
So to the food! Mark Greenaway devised the Menu (in collaboration with James Freeman) and Annabel Meikle, brand ambassador for Glenmorangie matched malts with the dishes. Having often found whisky and food matching a bit hit and miss at times, Annabel’s creativity was inspired and made the meal exceptional.
You may well know that the malts at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society are not labelled with the distillery names, as these are special one off casks. Suffice to say, we enjoyed gems chosen by her from throughout Scotland. Mark’s dishes showcased his creative flair featuring crab, scallops, mackerel, cod and salmon in five different courses.
My favourite dish, the Crab cannelloni was matched with a malt described as “cottage garden beside a church” a 28 year old light and delicate whisky with a salty tang.
Sous Vide Smoked Halibut and Herb Sauce
To top a wonderful lunch, we were presented on leaving with a bag of ingredients to make a Cullen Skink recipe from Mark. I decided to create my own version of his recipe from the ingredients, as I wanted to use my sous vide. So apologies, it’s not really Cullen Skink at all!
I’d not tried the Gigha Smoked Halibut before, but this proved to be a beautiful fish – smoked with wood from whisky barrels of course! The recipe will work well with any natural smoked fish.
- 250 ml milk
- 250 ml fish stock (or twice the quantity of milk)
- 2 fillets of smoked gigha halibut (or approx 300 gr fish)
- 1 small leek chopped finely
- 10 pearl onions (or one medium onion chopped)
- 1 large potato peeled (add a second if you've a large appetite)
- 25 gr butter
- 25 gr plain flour
- 10gr each of dill and chives finely chopped for garnish
- salt and pepper
- Pre-heat your sous vide machine to 60C. Vacuum pack the fish and place in sous vide when it is up to temperature. Set timer for 30 minutes
- Meanwhile prepare the rest of the ingredients
- Peel small onions and cook whole in salted boiling water until just cooked. If using chopped onions, cook them in the same way. Keep warm
- Chop the potato into cubes and place in boiling salted water to cook. This will be quite quick as they are small pieces. Check regularly and set aside when done. Keep warm
- Place the leek into 250ml milk and cook until soft. Drain and keep the milk for the sauce.
- Gently melt the butter, add the flour and cook a little, when it sizzles add the fish stock or milk and cook until thick. Add a little more milk or stock if necessary. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the leeks to the sauce and chopped herbs.
- Now assemble the dish.
- Take the fish out of the sousvide, open and place on two warmed plates.
- Add the sauce to the dish. Add onions and potato. Place the fish on top.