‘Nothing is more exhilarating than fresh fish, simply cooked,” says the godfather of
British seafood, Rick Stein. How right he is. You can truss a plate of prawns up in a ponzu, mirin, shoyu and dashi glaze and serve them atop a bed of fermented sea asparagus and sous-vide samphire with an elaborate jus, foam or air.
But is there any pleasure purer than dunking your hand into a pint of plump pink prawns, removing their over-garments, dancing them through a bowl of creamy hollandaise, and popping them into your mouth as you squint in the sunshine?
Actually, there is: doing all these things with the sand between your toes.
Inland-dwellers can enjoy riverside, lakeside, canalside and garden-pond-side fish dishes. We can rustle up a plate of Diana Henry’s bream stuffed with walnut and pomegranates,
Stephen Harris’s sea trout, or Nathan Outlaw’s monkfish, bean and bacon stew. But there’s nothing like eating where the sea meets the shore.
Blessedly, we live on a tiny island. We are surrounded on all sides by
water brimming with Cornish crab, Welsh scallops, Scottish turbot and
Dover sole; wherever you wake up, you’re never far from the coast and the fish caught off it. So hop on a train, bundle into the car or – if you’re feeling brave – strap a pair of panniers on the back of a bicycle and head to the beach.
You won’t find fish much fresher than in these 20 British seaside kitchens, whether it’s served to you at a white linen tablecloth, handed to you on a plastic plate through the window of a beachfront shack, or wrapped in newspaper and carried down to the seafront, so that all at once you inhale British summer in a glorious whoosh of hot, salty, vinegary air.
By Martha de Lacey