CJ Jackson from the Billingsgate Seafood School sits down with Simon Rimmer, Sunday Brunch to get the lowdown on his love of seafood
What is your ‘go to’ seafood dish? What seafood dish/s (fish and shellfish) do you eat when you’re out and what seafood do you like to cook at home?
Cooking at home - I have a monkfish dish that I serve up to family and friends. I flour the monkfish and sear it in a pan and then add potatoes, artichokes, tomatoes and lots of lemon butter to baste it so it crisp’s up. Everyone dives in!
Eating out I was in Portugal last week and had the most amazing Turbot – cooked whole on the bone, over flames, simple, love fish cooked on the bone like this – just perfect
As a chef, do you have any secrets or advice on buying, preparing and cooking seafood? Favourite species/alternative species.
As a nation we tend to over-cook fish and have a fear of it, so my recommendation would be to cook the fish from room temperature, oil the fish, not the pan (if you heat oil in a pan,it changes the flavour and will ruin the fish.
Start with cooking fillets and don’t over cook.
Have you been anywhere that has inspired you to eat more seafood? What was so good about the experience?
I think for me that often it is sea to plate and very fresh. Straight from the water. I particularly remember my honeymoon in Thailand, we ate on the beach and the catch of the day was presented to us.and again tuna in Hawaii,was a real wow moment too.
What’s your connection to seafood. When did you start cooking it?
Seafood is massively important in my restaurants – the first really popular fish dish we presented was a Basque style hake dish with chorizo, saffron and chickpeas and lemon juice over at the end. It's always a favourite.
I was bought up surrounded by food, my Dad’s half Italian and loves cooking so lots of influences there. My Mum’s family were brilliant bakers, my Grandma’s Apple Pie was the best.
I did a degree in design, fashion and textiles and worked as a designer for a few years before I got into food.
What are some of your best and earliest memories of enjoying seafood?
It was brown shrimps from Park Gate in the Wirral from the Dee Estuary.
What’s your food heaven and food hell?
Food heaven - I love Indian curry because of the flavours – or lots of different small plates, tapas with lots of different flavours, roasted cauli with harrissa that sort of thing.
Food hell - Tripe!!
What are your recommendations on where to buy fish/shellfish – possible favourite places (favourite monger, market stall, online, etc.).
I have two fishmongers that I have bought from for years, Evans in Didsbury and Out of the Blue in Chorlton-cum-Hardy. I like them as they sell good fish, are local and give great advice to customers.
You were previous a celeb host of the National Fish & Chip Awards, when it comes to fish and chips do you prefer cod or haddock? And what is your favourite accompaniment/side dish?
Both!! I know there is North South divide on this but I like both and as far as accompaniments, the full hit: mushy peas, tartare sauce and vinegar!’
What are some of the best and least expensive ways you like to enjoy seafood?
Simply cooked for me – fish cooked whole and things like Frito Misto.
What advice would you give someone who’s scared to try/doesn’t like seafood?
Try cooking something like a bass fillet, it tastes so good, so an excellent start and then accelerate and amplify from there.
Sunday Brunch is on Channel 4 from 9.30am to 12.30pm.