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Changing Tides

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The Seas The Catch crew at Leverburgh harbour, Isle of Harris.

The slow summer months of 2020 have brought a mixed bag of sunshine, showers, and even thunderstorms to our shores.

As they say, if you don’t like the Outer Hebridean climate, then just wait a minute...

While unseasonably wild winds can often keep those in the fishing industry held fast in harbours, the changeable weather has been the least of their worries during these uncertain times.

Our island home has long held a deep connection to the seas which surround us, and making a living from our waters has been a calling passed down through generations of Hearaich (and Scalpaich!)

Langoustines, or simply prawns as we call them in Harris.

So, despite globalisation and mass-market ingredients, we’re delighted that there is still a deep love for our local and sustainable seafood from the country’s best cooks and chefs.

We recently caught up with local skipper Neil Maclean, owner of ‘Seas The Catch’, who helps bring some of the finest of creel-caught shellfish to great restaurants across the Scottish Highlands and Islands.

Their working ways have had to change significantly during the current COVID crisis with many regular customers being forced to close their doors to the public. As Neil explains…

‘2020 has been a challenging time for the hospitality industry and this has meant we have had to alter how we operate to include offering more deliveries to people just cooking at home.’

Fresh from Outer Hebridean seas...

Like many of us, this family business has moved quickly to adapt and overcome in these unusual times, but their main goal remains clear…

‘Our aim has always been to promote Hebridean shellfish, which we believe is some of the finest in the world!’

The majority of the catch here tends to be exported to the continent, but Neil and his two cousins, Stewart and Iain, work extra hard to keep local markets well supplied.

From langoustines, or simply prawns as they are more commonly known in Harris, to velvet crab and lobster, the Seas The Catch customers always know the provenance of their product.

A sustainable and traceable catch, right back to the skipper and his boat.

As Neil tells us…

‘Traceability and sustainability are always at the forefront of what we do, meaning that all of our produce is caught from creel fishing boats only and our scallops are hand-dived for.’

Their sea-wares are shipped to customers in freshly cut seaweed and chilled on ice. Each box is labeled with information on which boat landed their produce and the area it was caught in.

The new business environment has also created exciting collaborations including a partnership with Masterchef Finalist Chef Dean Banks, owner of Haar Restaurant in St Andrews…

A seafood feast delivered to the people of Nairn.

“During lockdown, Dean started a nationwide delivery of his ‘Haar At Home’ and has been offering a box called ‘Best of Land and Sea’ which we're proud to say includes our lobster."

He continues…

“And Gordon Kidd, chef and owner at Cafe One One Two in Nairn, has also been using our produce for seafood takeout meals which has been really great.”

In making a success of things during these uncertain times, the Seas the Catch team believe their shellfish selection boxes, delivered direct to your door, are here to stay.

So, like all good Harris fishermen know, reading the sea is more essential than ever, and it’s great to see entrepreneurs like Neil capably navigating these changing tides and times.



by Gordon Kidd, Cafe One One Two, Nairn, Scotland.

"Using the best produce Scotland has to offer is at the forefront of what we offer at One One Two. The shellfish from Harris are some of the best in the world so it's a joy to be able to offer it straight from the boats to our customers in Nairn within hours of being landed. This Crab Tom Yum recipe is one of many ways we use crab from Seas the Catch."
( Serves 4) 
For the paste
1 thumb-size piece of ginger, 
2 stems of lemongrass,
2 cloves garlic,
3 kaffir lime leaves,
2 red chilies,
2 birds eye chilies,
8 cherry tomatoes,
1 red onion,
50ml water,
50ml vegetable oil,
Chop all the above and then blitz in a food processor to a fine paste.
For the rest
1 whole brown crab from Harris, cooked, cooled and shelled 
1.5 litre crab or chicken stock
Palm sugar or castor sugar, to taste
Fresh lime juice, to taste
Sea salt
Fish sauce / Nam Pla, to taste
2 tomatoes, chopped in quarters
Vegetable oil
12 cooked and shelled tiger prawns, gutted and split in half,
4 spring onions, sliced
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
A handful of fresh coriander
Shitake mushrooms, sliced and fried in sesame oil

Make the crab stock. Heat a saucepan on a high heat. Add vegetable oil and fry your crab shells hard for a few minutes, breaking them down with a wooden spoon. Add your chopped tomatoes and fry for another 2 minutes, then add 2 litres of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve and set aside.

For the soup, put a clean saucepan on a high heat. Add 50 ml vegetable oil then add the paste and a pinch of salt and fry for 10 minutes, stirring continuously,  until the paste is fragrant and doesn't taste raw. and 1.5litre crab stock, bring to the boil, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve.

Return the soup to the heat and add the juice of 1 lime, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 2 tablespoons sugar and  a good pinch of salt. Taste the soup, adjust the seasoning accordingly. It should taste sweet, salty, hot and sour. Now add the prawns, mushrooms and spring onions. Gently bring to the boil and add your crab meat, cherry tomatoes and coriander and serve immediately. Serve in bowls with coriander.


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