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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 13 November 2008
I looked around before I bought this book - I wanted something that had a lot more to it than the fish sections of general cook books, and I really wanted the sections on choosing fish and basic tchniques.

As you can see from the other reviews, it fits the bill very well

However, I mark it down one star because using it as a cook book is actually quite difficult because of the lack of a proper cross-referenced index showing fish types and recipes. What they do is give you a load of recipes, which are listed under the name of a single fish, but may recommend up to about half a dozen other fish that will work.

Suppose you have a beautiful grey mullet. You look it up in the index and find pretty much zilch. So you turn to grey mullet in the fish directory and hidden in the grey box in the margin are some page numbers which contain recipes suitable for using with grey mullet - but no clue whatsoever as to what any of those recipes might be. So you have to turn to each one in turn to discover what they are. By the time you have done this you've spent half an hour finding out that the recipe you fancy needs an ingredient you don't have and the corner shop closed 10 minutes ago.

Wouldn't have been easier just to list in the index all the recipes under the fish to which they can apply ? And entries for fish steaks and fish fillets while you were at it guys - not all of us cook for 6 all the time, and those of us in small households tend to buy our fish dismantled (PS if you read this guys, look at Rose Elliot's Bean Book for an example of an almost perfect ingredient-led index).
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The first thing I couldn't help noticing about The River Cottage FISH book is how big and heavy it is - definitely not a book to take on a fishing trip but then that was probably never its intention.

Written by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and the appropriately-named Nick Fisher, they have a clear view of its "nitty gritty". Apart from the "delightful activity of cooking and eating fish", FISH is about understanding the business of catching and preparing them. Once we readers achieve this we will, perforce, get even more pleasure.

Golly, FISH is comprehensive. One of its three sections, Understanding Fish, is divided into Fish as food; Sourcing fish; Fish skills; Shellfish skills. Within these, the authors deal with such diverse topics as Fish as brain food; Five rules for sustainable fish shopping; Fish to find; Fish to avoid; Fish prep kit...... and so on. A thorough trawl.

Recipes are a real catch. Helpfully grouped under such headings as Raw, salted and marinated; Baked and grilled; Fish thrift and standbys (for maximising ingredients and minimising waste) they cleverly organise you into deciding what - and how - you might want to cook. They're also extremely alluring - Simon Wheeler's photos see to that - and make you want to rush out, buy (from a sustainable source naturally) and cook. Roll on summer for a burst of Roasted whole plaice with cherry tomatoes. Meanwhile let's be content with FoodLovers featured recipes Crab Bread & Butter Pudding or Drunken Smollack Toasts - a fishy version of Welsh rarebit.
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on 24 November 2007
...and fishmongers. My favourite fish cookery books so far have been from Sophie Grigson and William Black, Philip Diamond, Mitchell Tonks and Alan Davidson. All really know their fish because they get out there and catch them, or deal with fresh fish for a living. Now Hugh and Nick join that select band of my favourite fishy authors for the same reason - they know and love fish, from the bottom of the sea to the plate. They write informatively, humorously and passionately, and the reader can't help wanting to pick up a rod or net and get involved. Don't expect fussy recipes: these are best cooked in a farmhouse kitchen or a fishing boat galley, and eaten with your fingers. But they will taste fabulous. Don't expect too many recipes for boring old cod or salmon either, as Hugh and Nick explore nearly all British edible species that swim or crawl. This is a big book, and hugely readable. The authors are both very passionate about sustainable fishing, and offer useful tips to help conserve the more pressurised species, and provide every reason to try alternatives that are right on our doorstep. Buy this book, you will not regret it.
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VINE VOICEon 24 April 2009
This book will open your mind to the wonders of fish.

The book starts with a detailed section on how to prepare all the seafood that is in the book, from gutting and filleting a fish to dressing a crab.

The passion that Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall and Nick Fisher have for fish is then shown through the wonderful recipes that are offered for every type of fish and shell fish. Each recipe is straight-forward and the number of ingredients never becomes unmanageable.

Of course, with his River Cottage hat on nothing is left to waste so there is even a section on how to cook the off-cuts and left-overs from your main meals.

After the extensive recipies section there is a wealth of knowledge on each fish and mention of a sustainability rating, e.g. whether you should really be buying the fish in question or not. It really does make you aware of what can be considered ethical and sustainable when eating fish.

A truly wonderful guide to fish that will make you aware of what and when to buy.
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on 22 May 2008
Book is mostly aimed at people passionate about fish and cooking it and contains lots of information about fish, fishing practises etc. I personally was only looking for simple healthy recipes but I am still very happy with it. Was slightly disappointed with the number of recipes, however I love the description of each type of fish with comments on how best to cook this particular fish. With other cookbooks, you only have a dozen recipes for half a dozen types of fish, and are stuck if you have got anything that does not fit the list. Here, each recipe has suggestions on what other types of fish to use. And of course they know what they are talking about, it is all simple and elegant.
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on 14 February 2008
I was impressed that this book goes much further than just fishy stories and recipes. It is a good read in its own right and the text would appeal to many people and not just those of us who want to make the most of the range of fish now on offer at the local fishmonger. It is very well written and easy to read and I found it really absorbing.

Just one thing, if you are of a certain age and need reading glasses you will definitely need them for this book. The text in this weighty tome is a tad on the small size.
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on 14 July 2010
In my opinion this book is utterly fantastic!! Not only does it address the questionable debates and issues that are surrounding the fishing industry it encourages and promotes it's readers to educate themselves.
This book really gets you thinking (as any good book should do in my estimation!) When I read it I found myself immediately searching for information. To question and wonder about the ecological future, sustainability and provenance of the fabulous fish that fill the waters around our coast.
And that's only the introduction!!!
There is a fantastic, detailed section aptly entitled `fish skills' that describes and advises you on every part of catching, killing, gutting, cutting and cooking your catch as well the usual impeccably brilliant and gorgeous dishes to cook- in a variety of ways including: open fire, smoking, grilling, soups etc. With a final section on the types of fish found in our own water of the British Isles.
How can anyone resist?!
If you're a fan of The River cottage series then you'll adore the book as much as I did. If not, let me assure you still have a wonderful time, eating your way through the delicious recipes!
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on 1 February 2009
As well as a great cook book, this provides listing of all the main fish we all eat and how endangered they are with clear details of which we should eat and which not.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 October 2008
This is a major work of reference for anyone interested in fish cookery and sustainable fish buying. Everything you need to know about buying, gutting, filleting and cooking of every kind of fish and shellfish is dealt with and even how to kill fish and shellfish if you get them live.

I find the information about the best times of year to buy all the different species of fish and shellfish very useful. There are also lists of fish suppliers, including those who do mail-order for those who do not have easy access to good quality fish.
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on 13 May 2009
Another goodie from Hugh, this book feeds the senses even before you start on the cooking. It looks and feels delicious and is the usual mix of information and recipes. If fish floats your boat, then this book is an excellent catch! (Sorry...)
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