If like me you enjoy squid and want to eat local, seasonal catch now is the time to ask your fishmonger for squid. Dan the Clovelly fishman is bound to have some. If you’re not sure what to do with it, ask your fishmonger (details on our fish page) or try some of SeaDog’s delicious streetfood. Jim and Beth are trying all sorts of internationally inspired recipes using North Devon’s seasonal catch – including squid!
The squid are blooming off the North Devon coast. I'm not sure if blooming is the correct term but when Boat Stories spoke to Paul Stone, skipper of the Sparkling Star, in Ilfracombe this week, his crew were unloading 50 boxes of squid. Paul told us that he always looks forward to the squid fishing every year because the catch rate is good, they can work locally on shorter trips and their fuel bill is down. “It’s uncanny,” he told me “how they appear the same time every year – only two days different from last year.” About a fortnight ago I met up with Marcus White, known as Tats who gave me a guided tour of Our Olivia Belle, the second trawler in S&P’s fleet – at that point Tats was waiting for the squid to arrive.
A group of tourists watched the catch being unloaded, hidden in ice. “Do you think they’ve got fish fingers in there?” one father asked his son. Helpfully, Paul produced a squid for everyone to look at but the youngster didn’t want to touch it. I thought Paul immensely cheerful and patient with the tourists (and me) considering he'd been on the go for 48 hours and had a two hour turn-around in harbour before they were back fishing again. No-one else in Ilfracombe got a look at the squid, they were loaded straight into a lorry bound for Appledore. The driver told me they would be processed overnight and sent abroad – probably to Italy.
Although it was nearly 9 in the evening, Clare from S&P fishshop turned up to collect her box of fresh mixed fish ready to sell in the shop the next day. Even she didn’t want squid – as she had some from the other boat. I love eating squid – and as fish goes it’s amazingly good value. So why does 90% or more of our local squid catch go abroad? The fishermen would like it if more of their catch was eaten locally - but even they don't seem to like squid. So maybe there isn't the demand? A question for Boat Stories to try and answer? Meanwhile I went on the hunt for squid for supper in Ilfracombe. It was late – but I couldn’t find any. I would have happily settled for squid and chips. But I did find delicious sea bass and chips – with the fish supplied by S&P fishshop.
I love their fish pasties and their menu seems to have something mouth-wateringly different on it every week. I wish their red trailer stopped at the end of my street. Look out for Seadog at festivals, the street food market in Barnstaple and in Braunton on Thursday evenings. They often tweet their latest menu: @seadogfoods
Boat Stories Blog
All the latest news and stories from Jo Stewart-Smith, Boat Stories Producer