The best fish to feed a hungry family!

The best fish to feed a hungry family!

This month we’re celebrating C-O-L-E-Y.

Here in Brixham, the market has been blessed with bumper landings of coley - a glorious fish that gets us all excited! But what makes this a fish to sing about? They’re as flaky and meaty as a cod or haddock, whilst being truly affordable, sustainable, and unbelievably healthy.

Possibly Britain’s most affordable fish

When it comes to thinking about fish, oily fish are often considered the athletes. Fish like mackerel and herring move fast, eat fast, and live fast. They’re solid muscle. Aston Martin silver. Apex underwater hunters.

Whitefish, meanwhile, like cod, take a more relaxed approach to life. Considering all its fame a cod is perhaps the laziest fish in the sea. Rather than darting around hunting for small fry and baby squid to snack upon, a cod sits on the sea bed, with its great big mouth wide open, scooping up nearly anything that looks easy to catch and eat.

Coley, despite being in the same family as a cod, are not nearly as lazy as their couch potato cousins. Anyone who’s grappled with a coley on a rod and line will know full well that a coley is anything but! The fact is they’re great fighters and fantastic breeders, they grow fast and have survival in their DNA. Which is what has enabled the UK coley stocks to remain quite so strong.

It's a fact of the market that because of their abundance coley are the money-saving choice. Which is perfect if you’re trying to feed a family. The NHS tells us we should all be eating at least two portions of fish per week. Preferably one oily and one white. It can be hard enough putting food on the table, day in and day out, without following medical guidance dictums. But at the price, a coley portion is not only more affordable than almost all other seafood – but almost all other protein!

The healthy option

Whitefish are rich in the minerals selenium and iodine, which our thyroid glands (the glands which make the hormones that control our metabolism) need to function properly.

While oily fish might be the ultimate food for our brains, white fish are jam-packed with goodness that our bodies need desperately. Minerals like phosphorus, which is one of the key ingredients in our bones and teeth, are rich in the flesh of the fast-moving, hard-fighting coley, which makes consuming them a great part of a growing child’s diet – and even more so for parents!

Best of all coley are especially low in fat, making them a healthy alternative to red or processed meat, which tends to be higher in damaging, obesity-linked, saturated fats.

Planet friendly

Once upon a time, coley was an essential part of the mainstream diet here in the UK, having over 50 regional names to lay claim to. Names like ‘coley’ and ‘coalfish’, point to the fish’s black skin, which gives its flesh an almost blue colour when raw. It’s because of this unusual colouring that coley has really fallen fowl to other more appetising-looking fish.

Don’t let this put you off! Like wonky veg, a coley is just as delicious. But this discrimination has meant coley has not been targeted, and as a result, stocks have gone from strength to strength. The coley's short adolescence makes it very resistant to fishing, which is why the MSC rates it Best Choice for eating.

The bottom line

If you’re looking for a fish that’s easy, healthy, and planet friendly, that you can feed the family with on a week-night dinner, you’d be hard-pressed to find one that beats a coley.

When we’re out at sea we like nothing more than to fry up a coley fillet and make one of our Skipper’s Rolls – the small gas ring in the wheelhouse crisps the skin to perfection (SEE FULL RECIPE HERE). While they’re mind-blowingly good during a gale-force storm, huddled in the galley of the Rockfisher – they’ll be just as good for a TV dinner at home too. We promise!