“There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t get asked for at least one of the top five species of seafood – tuna, salmon, cod, haddock and prawns – but I am determined, even as a brand new start-up business, to educate our consumers on why it is important to eat local,” says new fishmonger Aarik Persaud.
His new Totnes fish shop Cormacks Seafood is one of the many UK businesses now focusing on the domestic market using locally landed seafood.
He said: “We exclusively sell seasonal, locally caught day-boat fish and shellfish, with one exception, ChalkStream trout, which is farmed using organic feed in freshwater ponds. We have been running as a seafood product-focused business since 2018, and have always only bought from small-scale fishing vessels that use traditional fishing methods. These fishermen are the backbone of coastal communities, and are custodians of their small patch of the sea.”
Aarik Persaud has over 20 years’ experience working as a chef. He has led kitchens across the world, including in Toronto, Sydney, Bali, Hong Kong and London. In Asia, he owned a series of butcheries which operated on a nose-to-tail mantra of using the whole animal. Furloughed during lockdown from his executive chef position in a high-end restaurant in Soho, he was determined to get back to work, and so developed the plan for Cormacks.
At the shop, Aarik brings his culinary experience and knowledge to transform the seafood into a range of ready-to-cook products. “There are some amazing parts of a fish which are often discarded, such as the cheeks, ribs and head. I think the seafood industry does need a shake-up. We have been eating plain battered white fish for too long. Don’t get me wrong, it is great – but where are the new seafood products?”
Cormacks Seafood began a few years back by canning day-boat mackerel, marinated in international sauces, such as miso ginger, Korean barbecue, pastrami spice and puttanesca. Having the shop is allowing Aarik to develop a far more extensive product range. The fridge is stocked with a range of products that have been given a bit of additional flavour, including jerked cuttlefish, hake stuffed with harissa and couscous, and trout en papillote.
The frozen food products Aarik makes include soy- and yuzu-infused katsu fillets, inspired by his many years of eating Japanese curry in small ‘mom and pop’ restaurants across Asia, fish’n’chip fish fingers, conceived in one of Aarik’s restaurants in Hong Kong, and Brixham lobster mac and cheese. He also has a salt fridge which is used to dry-age larger fish, reducing the moisture content and concentrating the flavour.
He said: “For me, one of the most important things that I can do is to show my local community the importance of supporting their local fishing fleet and teaching them about the abundance of fresh, delicious seasonal seafood that is landed right here. We are fortunate enough to be able to access seafood that is fresh off the boat, so why would I promote anything else?”
Cormacks Seafood opened on 28 July at Unit 11, The Plains Shopping Centre, Ticklemore Street, Totnes. Find out more at: cormacksseafood.co.uk