Customer Review

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb introduction to seafood, 5 Jun 2005
This review is from: Rick Stein's Taste Of The Sea (Paperback)
I have to admit it, I love Rick Stein ... purely platonically, you understand. He presents some of the most distinctive and thoroughly enjoyable cookery programmes on British television. I love seafood ... purely gastronomically, you understand. As a Scot it would be a treasonable offence to suggest that I did not. And Stein brings to the cooking of seafood a cerebral, acerbic, yet almost visceral passion which is more infectious than a hospital superbug and which inspires you to venture into new experiences and new flavours.
Fortunately, I have an excellent fishmonger in the centre of town. That helps a lot. There are few areas in the British Isles which are more than a few miles distant from the seashore (or loch, lough, lake, river, or stream). One of Stein's most potent messages is his frequent exhortation to make use of your local fishmonger and support local seafood restaurants. We can all play a part in encouraging local fishing and sustainable harvesting of the seas and rivers.
Stein offers an excellent introduction, here, evoking the flavour of a small fishing port, extolling the virtues of fish as a healthy foodstuff, and talking the reader through the subject - the book pictures a wide variety of seafood and parallels this with an apprenticeship in how to prepare each. As I say, visceral pleasures (the gutting of squid is a particularly amazing experience). But, for the squeamish, a good fishmonger will tackle the beheading and evisceration for you!
Stein offers a wide range of recipes - he describes fish stocks and sauces, leads you into the wonderful adventure that is soup, talks you though stews and pies, and on to stand alone fish dishes (if you can cope with the notion of a fish standing). He looks at indigenous British seafood and Mediterranean varieties - flat and round, shellfish and crustacean.
The pages are beautifully illustrated, the recipes well explained and easy to follow. It's a book which is complemented by watching Stein on the TV - try to capture some of that amazing enthusiasm and passion. It's never mentioned in any recipe, but the one thing you need to bring to fish cooking is passion - sprinkle each meal with love. Treat the fish with respect - nurture the flavours and offer them up as a benison.
The value of the book, the value of Rick Stein's television programmes is in stimulating that passion, encouraging you to enjoy, to experiment, to explore, to get a feel for your local food suppliers. If you're inexperienced in cooking, you can feel self-conscious about asking your fishmonger (or butcher, or greengrocer) for advice: most are only too happy to help, and the good ones are a mine of hints and information. Rick Stein's Taste of the Sea is one of my favourite cookbooks, one to which I regularly return for ideas and inspiration. Mouthwatering!
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