Tag Archives: sustainability

Sweets for my Sweet, Breads for my Bready?

1 Jul

Yup, it was 1994 in our house last week and C J Lewis was brapping around (Shaggy was busy). In his honour we decided to cook Sweetbreads! Yup a NEW OFFAL. One that didn’t even get touched in NosetoTail Fortnight …

This is an offal that we cannot now go and bulk buy. Then there would be many, many, many spare carcasses hanging around. Demand cannot out-strip supply. That is unsustainable. Sustainability is the name of the game!

Sweetbreads are glands. They can either be thyroid or pancreatic ones. I think these were thyroidy ones because they were plumper and roundish, rather than longer and thinner. I do know they came from a lamb. I also know I got them from the website Farmers Choice. Their website is very good, AND postage is reasonable AND you can choose your delivery day. Trufax! I also bought some pig’s ears.

The buying of the sweetbreads coincided with my Mum giving me Mark Hix’s new recipe book. It lists recipes month by month and is good at pointing out what is native and when it is best. There is a bit too much talk about foraging and fishing/hunting/poaching your own meat, not because I don’t find it fascinating, but because the reality of pretty much everyone I know is that doesn’t happen due to location restraints, I think, rather than time. I say this because a few years ago we were all told that there was no point in growing vegetables in cities because you just ended up with really polluted vegetables. It was in the papers – do you remember? I raised this point again on my herbs course at Dilston Physic Garden, as to how much benefit you lost by using herbs that grew in and around the city. Or if by using plants that breathed the same gases you did, whether that made them have a better synergy with you. All that aside, the Mark Hix book is good and should you wish to see what I’m talking about, you can find it here.

He suggests that sweetbreads be eaten in July. This is different to the “Spring” that I’ve read elsewhere. I guess June falls between the two nicely anyhow. Apparently you can do the same treatment with testicles. FYI.

The end bit of this recipe is a bit of a rat-race and you have to do things simultaneously. Just saying. I was a bit shocked in the change of pace from ‘lalalalala just change and soak lalalalalala’ to ‘BOIL, FRY, SIMMER, REDUCE, WATCH ALL THE PANS LIKE A HAWK AS NOTHING NEEDS COOKING FOR VERY LONG AT ALL’. Like you arrived at the Parochial Church Ramble and it turned out to be bleep-tests for ultra-runners.

Just do like a boy scout …

I had 250g of sweetbreads, so had to adjust the recipe, and it fed two people comfortably.

1 medium onion, 150ml lamb stock, 150g podded peas, 100ml double cream (I used extra thick), 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

  1. Soak the sweetbreads in repeated changes of water until the water is pretty clear. This could take up to an hour (it took us about twenty minutes).
  2. Cover them with water and boil them for two minutes. Then drain and run COLD water over them. You will want to now peel away the outer membrane. It’s very fine (like the layer of cells between onion layers), but is definitely manageable:
  3. Now heat a knob of butter in a pan and fry the onion gently until soft. Add the stock and let it reduce til there is only a few tablespoons left mingled in with the onion.
  4. While the stock is reducing boil your peas for 3-4 and then cool them under running cold water.
  5. Add the cream to the onion/stock mix and let it reduce by a third.
  6. While the cream is reducing, heat a tablespoon oil in a frying pan, season the sweetbreads and fry them on a high heat until each side is crisp.
  7. Remove them from the pan (drain on kitchen towell if you feel the need), then add them to the cream mix along with the peas. Simmer it all together for a couple of minutes.
  8. Serve.

It is lovely and refreshing. VERY SWEET. Who knew meat could be this sweet? Almost like marshmallows, but a bit sweeter. Amazing. Nutty. Sweeter than testicles actually.

Would I make them again? Maybe. Would I order them in a restaurant? Yes. What do I think about the recipe? The peas added too much sweetness, but I’m not sure what you’d match with soemthing sweet, nutty and meaty. Any ideas? I was thinking maybe grapefruit? And lovage? As like a side salad?

Have you eaten sweetbreads? Are you too attached to your thyroid to eat that of another creature?

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Scallops! (That’s not an offal, you cry!)

4 Apr

I went to see my Mum in Norfolk yesterday and because I am her poor daughter, she gave me half a bag of her supermarket scallops as a treat. What a lovely Mum! On the way home (4 hour journey) I heard ‘Costing the Earth’ on Iplayer. The episode is linked below and looks at how the Southern Ocean around South Georgia has its fish stocks under the tightest supervision and control in the world.

Costing the Earth

As I was cooking tonight, I felt quite uneasy. What if I had through thoughtlessness and excitability, forgotten follow some of the first discoveries I made with this blog (ah, the eel episode)? Where was the packet? Under some DISGUSTING mank in the bin – not going there again. Quickly, I went to get my kindle to check my pdf of the Sustainable Fish Guide. Alas, my kindle broke on Monday and the new one isn’t set up for wireless yet. Now, my scallops are close to being overdone. Oh woe!

Reader, I ate them. With the promise to check about scallops in my engorged post-“Chilli Scallop and Pattypan Squash Pasta” coma. You’ll be glad to know, that the Marine Stewardship Council lists all the fish and seafood products that it lends its label to. The label looks like this.

Keep your eyes peeled for it – if you are at all concerned about whether your fish is sustainably sourced – if you’re not that’s OK too, but I hope you’ll start to notice it more over the coming years. The label means that the fish comes from a Marine Stewardship Council certificated fishery. This means that every fishery that wants the label must be a sustainable one. The guidelines go along the chain of sale, so a producer has to ensure that only MSC sustainable fish ends up, for example, in their fishcakes. I think this is all very interesting. However, one thing to bear in mind is this DOES NOT COVER FARMED FISH. However, I did read somewhere, that a mark of good fish farming practice is being introduced.

I was lucky. My scallops were from a MSC cerificated Tesco packet.

Phew!

The MSC website is very detailed. There is a page dedicated to scallops under the ‘Fish you can eat’ byline. What I am going to look out for now is that scallops I buy come from the Isle of Man. Food miles isn’t something I think about a huge amount (and I know I ought to), but I saw this new blog today from someone who is dedicating themselves to only eating British food for a year (including spices!). As a result I’m going to try and bear things like that more in mind. Eating, if you think about, is very complex!

There are lessons to be learnt from Alice! We should be more like Mother Oyster than the Walrus …

Aside

Dipping my toe …

7 Jan

My first full week of being offaltarian began in earnest. Well ish. Some. A bit. It began with a visit to Little Tokyo in Leeds. It has a lot to offer the vegan/vegetarian, but what did it have to offer the offaltarian (I really like that term)? Well, unsurprisingly not a huge amount. All the meat things were out. The fish was in of course, but after my previous post about being a responsible fish eater, I wanted to well do that. But then I got over-excited and saw that eel was on the menu. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel.I had an eel bento … It was delicious, but …

I’ve plagued myself with half-remembered articles that I’ve read about eels and how people still don’t know where they spawn and what happens to adult eels after they’ve had a reproductive time and how long it takes them to reach sexual maturity and I’m not sure I made the right choice. A bit of the old google has shown me that I should be asked if the eel was sustainbably sourced as there is a new EU eel labelling standard (here). Each EU member state has had to come up with an Eel Management Plan that reflects the eels unique lifestyle. In England it is the Sustainable Eel Group who are responsible for its implementation.

However, at present, the eel is still on the Marine Stewardship Council’s red list (here) of species that are unsustainably caught. They also run the good fish guide so you can work out which fishes are most responsibly fished. This is excellent and I would downlaod the iphone app if I had one.

So, what you should take away from this lesson: DO NOT GET OVER-EXCITED IF YOU SEE EEL ON A MENU. IT IS NAUGHTY TO EAT IT AND THE (surviving) EELS WILL PUNISH YOU.

Eat Tilapia.