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                 Fruits of
the sea
When people talk about seafood, you can see their eyes light up with thoughts of dishes from shores afar. Grilled prawns pil pil from Spain, butter poached crayfish from Australia, clam chowder from the States and something a little less exotic served up by Padstow’s Rick Stein.
But for me, I cannot get away from the freezing cold nights on Dunwich beach with my father and my two brothers.
My younger brother and I would be strategically positioned in the so called ‘waterproof’ bivvy, out of the way of my older brother and father, who were there to attend to the real business. Catching tomorrow night’s supper! I was always thankful for some protection against the bitterly cold wind that would sweep along the beach and (despite the fact it had that odd flask taste) even more thankful when dad got the tea out.
We would sit there for hours on end, watching the end of the rods for the slightest of movement or sign of a bite from those fish. Sometimes you would have been sure it had moved, but looking back it could have been the fumes drifting up from the paraffin lamp we had as a source of light on the beach.
My brother and I would pass the time by playing games, like who could get a stone closest to a certain object or skimming stones (if there was enough light).
Fast forward 12 years. I am now standing at Darling Harbour, Sydney, Australia. I am working at Nick’s Seafood Restaurant, watching oysters being
The Swan at Lavenham’s head chef Justin Kett remembers cold nights beach fishing, and classic British fish and chips
One to try
Seabass with Asian Vegetables and Thai Dressing
Prawns, whole Barramundi and the bright Red Snapper fillets. Not forgetting the many kilos (no exaggeration!) of mussels.
The kitchen was an open affair. We were like monkeys in a zoo, watched by the customers at all times. We became experts at looking to be in complete control, so the customers were never aware of the chaos (organised might I add) which was going on around them.
However, despite being surrounded by all these beautiful fish, molluscs and crustaceans, I still found myself thinking back to those days fishing on the beach, and that the real jewel in the crown was fish and chips.
Beer battered cod is my weapon of choice, the batter has to be light but still crispy enough to get that satisfying crunch when you cut through it. I enjoy watching the steam bellow out like an old steam train in full motion. Then as you gently push on the flesh of the fish, watch as it separates like perfectly stacked roof tiles.
This of course, can be all ruined if the chips are not up to standard and you must finish the dish with a light dusting of salt and a splash of vinegar.
It is only now, as I grow older, that I start to understand why my father was so particular about where his fish and chip supper had come from. And why, afterwards, there would always be a discussion between my parents about whether they were ‘good’ or ‘bad’ fish and chips.
So as you can see, I take my fish and chips very seriously.
n Justin Kett is head chef at The Swan at Lavenham
Thai Sauce
4 x Sea Bass Fillets
300g Egg Noodles (Cooked) Garlic (Grated)
1 x Pak Choi
Lime (Zest and Juice)
1 x Carrot
100g Bean Sprouts
Soy Sauce
4 x Spring Onions
Sweet Chilli Sauce
50g Mange Tout
Sesame Oil
1 x Red Pepper
Coriander (Root)
shucked by an elderly Greek man (whose name escapes me). I have never, to this day, seen anyone open oysters the way this man did and God forbid if you got in his way!
Every morning, I would walk to work through the city centre, thinking about Spider Crabs, Australian Crayfish, Tiger
3. Mix all ingredients together for Thai dressing 4. Gently fry the fish, adding a knob of butter to finish
5. Fry the vegetables with the noodles, then finish with the Thai sauce
1.Slice and peel all veg- etables into a stir fry mix 2.Remove all bones from the sea bass

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