CELEBRITY chef Nick Nairn described Crieff fishmongers ‘Fish in Crieff’ as “genuinely the best fish shop in Scotland” as he demonstrated how best to cook fresh fish for lucky locals on Friday, June 5.
The chef, famed for appearances on Ready, Steady, Cook! and Great British Menu and the former youngest recipient of a Michelin star, cooked up a storm for local fish enthusiasts on Crieff’s High Street.
Mr Nairn firstly demonstrated to his captivated audience how to cook red fish, freshly caught from the North Sea, with a sauce vierge. Urging the audience to let their fish stick to the pan (it will eventually unstick itself) and take it off the heat slightly undercooked, he then produced a sauce of tomatoes, lemon zest and parsley that went down very well with the local samplers.
His next dish was not for the squeamish - fresh langoustine in a special ‘cocktail sauce’. Nick insists that fresh must mean fresh - the doomed langoustine must be alive right up until it goes into the pot.
After teaching the audience how to ‘crack’ the lobster properly, it was cooked in a pan and served with a sauce of mayonnaise, tomato ketchup, a ‘large dollop’ of creme fraiche, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and a discrete dash of whisky - for the tipplers among us.
Following an expert show on how to serve up scallops with a pea, lettuce and crispy bacon garnish, the demonstration was rounded off with a popular dish of plaice in a wine and white wine vinegar sauce.
There was also something for those that want to look the part of a celebrity chef as well as to cook like one, as Mr Nairn had a top tip. For those that want to do the “chef flick” to mix up ingredients in a pan - practise in the garden with birdseed to limit waste with little fuss!
Alongside the show from Mr Nairn was a wine tasting with Master of Wines, Alan Chapman, of Wildflower Wines and audience members were tested on what they had heard throughout, with the chance to win a signed copy of Nick’s latest book, “Fish n’ Tips” for the most attentive.
The demonstration was the result of a chance meeting between Mr Nairn and Willie Little, the proprietor of Fish in Crieff, around ten years ago and Willie has been supplying Nick’s restaurants every since.
“I wanted to come and support a fantastic shop which has, quite genuinely, the best fish in Scotland. Crieff is very lucky to have Fish in Crieff”, Nick said.
“Willie doesn’t cut corners at all, he comes in at 2am every morning and works really hard. He is brilliant at what he does - because he has been a chef himself and he understands what it takes.”
He also revealed how Willie had managed to make him a fan with a direct approach: he brought him some fish.
“Simply, he brought me some fantastic fish to taste one day - a monkfish and a lemon sole - and it was so good that he has supplied me every since!”, he added.
And what advice does Nick have for beginner chefs with little knowledge of how to cook? Where do they start?
“Come along to Nick Nairn’s Cook School.”