Cockles & Mussels alive alive oh

As an island nation, the UK has always had a history of not only having a great fishing industry but also the associated culinary specialism that comes with having a constant supply of quality fish.

Rick Stein has explored and documented the best restaurants and fishing towns – mention Craster and many will immediately think of the Craster Crab while Leigh on Sea conjures up images of the cockle sheds and who hasn’t heard of Argyll’s Loch Fyne kippers and oysters.

Preparing crab

Being a costal county, it’s no surprise that Kent is particularly known for having a good and plentiful supply of seafood – Whitstable is famous for is fantastic supply of oysters and one of the reasons David Essex said in an interview for The Sunday Telegraph Travel in July 2017 that it is the greatest seaside town in the UK. But how often do you go out to a restaurant and opt for the fish dish either as a starter or main course because you like the sound of it and…. because you rarely buy shellfish as you don’t know what to do with it?

This is definitely where I’m at on this subject; I would love to be more adventurous than occasional king prawn tagliatelle and who doesn’t want to be able to wow with something other than a 1970s prawn cocktail at your own ‘friends for dinner party’ but the thought I may just give my closest pals food poisoning sends shivers down my spine so that M&S finest smoked salmon is probably as daring as it gets when it comes to fish.

I am intrigued therefore to learn that long time business coach, Rosemary Williams, has decided to cast her net wider by holding masterclasses in Northfleet where she shares family recipes passed down over the generations. In a small intimate group of 6 Rosemary offers masterclasses on how to prepare oysters mussels and crab – notably using her own family method for successfully and simply dressing a crab known as the “the Holbrook way”. What’s more, once the shellfish has been prepared, you will cook it and then enjoy eating it before heading home armed with recipes to try out.

If you’re interested in finding out how to choose good shellfish, what shucking is all about and what tools to use, this could be 3 hours well spent. To find out more contact Rosemary on: 07532 162087

Rosemary’s Mussel recipe

mussels and bread

Serves 4 adults as a meal, 8 as a starter


4lb/2kg live mussels, cleaned, prepared and shells all closed
4fl oz/100ml white wine
4 sticks of celery
1 pint/500ml vegetable stock
3oz/85g unsalted butter
2/3 cloves of garlic
½ handful fresh chopped parsley
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 lemon
1 loaf fresh, crusty bread (e.g. sourdough)


Gently melt butter at medium heat in a large saucepan
Crush the garlic, add to butter, gently cook
Clean and thin slice the celery across the stems
Add the stock to the butter and garlic, the celery & pepper
Allow to simmer for 7 minutes, lid off.
Add closed mussels, allow to cook for about 2-3 minutes, lid on
The mussels are cooked as soon as they are open, do not overcook
Meanwhile warm the 4 serving bowls Add the wine to the saucepan
Allow to return to simmer, lid off When all or most of the mussels are open, it is ready Most of the mussels will open, if any are still closed, discard them
Gently mix in some of the chopped parsley Ladle into the warm serving bowls
Sprinkle some of the parsley on the top Cut the lemon Serve each bowl immediately with a lemon quarter and some bread
You can also add one or two diced carrots along with the celery.
If you like onion, finely chop 4 shallots, or an onion or a leek and include when you add the celery.


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