With Rye Scallop Festival approaching, we went along to one of Webbe’s fish mornings to learn about preparing fish, scallops and much more.

Pre-packed fish fillets, declining fish stocks, quotas and struggling fishing fleets fill the news but we wanted to find out a bit more about a local industry that dates back hundreds of years.  With Britain’s biggest fleet of beach-launched fishing boats, Hastings, and more specifically the Stade area, can be proud of its heritage.  This was our destination to find out more.

Top Scallop FactsPaul Webbe, local restaurateur, makes the most of the local catch at his local Webbe’s Rock-a-nore restaurant.  Here he also runs a variety of fish-related events including the regular Source to Sauce seafood cookery morning. I was lucky enough to receive a gift voucher as a very welcome Christmas present, and was looking forward to expanding my repertoire.

The morning starts at 9am with ten of us joining Paul for a trip to Hastings fish market.  Not generally open to the public, the market is where the landed fish is prepared, packed and dispatched to a variety of local, national and international customers.  With much of the catch heading to France and Spain, it’s a hub of activity.  We had the opportunity to take a look at the fish currently being caught in our waters before heading next door to see a small smokery.  We then headed to the new Classroom on the Coast where the demonstrations and practical activities began.

Two hours passed in a blur with Paul patiently demonstrating and assisting with a range of seafood related tasks including; cooking and picking crab, shucking and cleaning scallops as well as trimming and preparing a variety of fish including slip sole, plaice and sea bass.  The produce was then used to create a range of culinary delights including potted crab, seared Rye Bay Scallop with parsnip puree, pink lady apples and pancetta and also bouillabaisse.

We then headed back across the road to Paul’s restaurant to be served a six course meal incorporating the seafood we’d prepared (after Paul and his chef’s had added some not inconsiderable finishing touches!)  With great food, wine and a feeling of achievement the day ended at 2.30pm with a farewell from Paul and a booklet incorporating the day’s recipes.

Webbe’s Source to Sauce cookery mornings including lunch costs £60 which is great value and would make the perfect gift for the fish-loving foodie in your life.

You can find out more about Hastings’ fishing heritage at the Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society website whilst details of Webbe’s cookery mornings can be found on their website.

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