England is an island nation, and as such we have a strong tradition of seafood cuisine. For centuries, English fishermen have been harvesting the fruits of the ocean and our cuisine has come up with inventive new ways to make the most of our aquatic heritage.
As a result England has a long tradition of top seafood restaurants, and in recent years the work of a number of high profile chefs have further raised the profile of English seafood.
But despite our admirable seafood tradition, it is probably fair to say that the tastes of English consumers have not always been that adventurous. Salmon, cod and imported tuna have been the main products to dominate our fish consumption over the last few decades, but it is important to remember that there is a wealth of delectable sea food out there to be enjoyed.
The English fish and seafood industry has faced a new challenge, as have many sectors of our economy, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. The scarcity of grocery deliveries during the first few months of the pandemic led to a flourishing of the use of food boxes, with meat, bread, vegetables, fruit, beer and wine being delivered direct to our homes. The good news for seafood lovers is that there is now a thriving seafood and fish delivery sector.
Some of these services have been set up by fishmongers, and indeed there was a pre-existing shore-to-door seafood sector, but now the concept has been expanded and a number of restaurants and restaurant suppliers are getting in on the direct sale model to offer high quality fish to consumers.
The beauty of these delivery services is that they enable you to enjoy restaurant quality, fresh fish while at the same time supporting the struggling fishing and hospitality industries. You will also have the chance to be creative in the kitchen with foods you may not usually pick up at the supermarket.
Of course, when you are considering a fish box supplier, quantity is a key factor. Fish and seafood is not to everyone’s taste, so it is important to weigh up how many in your household would be eating the produce. Type of seafood is another consideration. Do you feel uncomfortable with crustaceans or do you enjoy mussels, cockles and other bivalves? How important is the provision of local fish?
The good news is that fish delivery boxes in England offer a wide variety of types and customisable options, so that you can enjoy everything from stunning scallops and expertly smoked salmon to tasty mackerel. Here are eight of the best to get you started:
Fishbox sources fresh, sustainable fish direct from small independent boats around the coast to offer high quality seafood direct to your door in less than 48 hours. As they buy direct from the fisherman they are able to get a fair price for their catch, and they carefully select the boats they buy from, to ensure that they are using responsible fishing methods.
As well as popular products such as monkfish, salmon and king scallops, Fishbox also prides itself on buying species of fish you will rarely see in the supermarkets, broadening your horizons and helping you to eat seasonally.
The selection of seafood from Fishbox features over 70 fish and shellfish, including everything from turbot to lesser known varieties like Torbay sole and cod tongues, which are rarely seen here but enjoyed widely across the Mediterranean.
A Fishbox delivery is always exciting but you can also personalise your subscription according to likes, loves and dislikes. The box comes in three sizes and can be tailored to your preferred frequency, as well as being available as a one-off gift box.
Abel and Cole
Abel and Cole had been providing organic veg to households for 30 years before they moved into bakery, meat, deli and other items, and this is their latest venture: a fantastic fish box of three sustainably sourced fish which are delivered on a weekly basis.
The box consists of one ready-to-eat fish and two varieties that can be cooked or frozen, with two portions of each. The fish varies from week to week: once week it could be beautiful handpicked Cornish crab, some celtic coley and lemon sole fillets; another week may offer delicious haddock, plaice and hand-smoked Severn and Wye mackerel.
You can check the menu every week, although this may change to reflect the day’s catch, which is always using environmentally aware methods. As a bonus, they sometimes throw in a gift, such as a pot of organic sundried tomato pesto which is very handy.
The Cornish Fishmonger BBQ Fish Box
This family-run fishmonger operation has been serving the people of St Mawes as well as top chefs for over 40 years and now you can enjoy the freshest catch of the Cornish coast.
The Cornish Fishmonger’s online delivery service has been helping local fishermen to carry on earning a living by selling their catch directly during these uncertain times when demand from restaurants has plummeted.
The crystal clear waters of Cornwall offer some of the best breeding habitats for a variety of fish and shellfish, including lobsters, mussels, cockles and plump prawns, all of which are delivered the very next day. You can shop safely knowing that all have been sourced sustainably and ethically with the Cornish fishing industry passionate about protecting fish stocks.
Included within the BBQ box are notes on how best to enjoy your seafood with storing and cooking tips, but everything is BBQ-ready with no filleting required.
Wright Brothers Seafood Box
As a restaurant group and wholesale seafood business, Wright Brothers has had a tough time during the lockdown, but the Wright Brothers At Home service has thrown them a lifeline.
Wright Brothers run five renowned London seafood restaurants and are known for the way that they source, prepare and serve the most delicious fish, and their new venture allows you to enjoy the same restaurant quality fresh seafood to your door, as one-off or through a regular subscription.
There are many tempting options on their site, including a seafood box for two which is an ideal box for couples who enjoy seafood. This box features some of Wright Brothers’ most popular items such as sweet white crab meat, juicy shell-on king prawns, long cut smoked salmon and lemon sole, along with delicious tuna steak. The contents are best eaten fresh, but all can be frozen.
Rick Stein’s Hake Menu for Two
Based in the idyllic location of Padstow, famous chef Rick Stein has extended his range to this At Home menu. It features some of his classic seafood dishes from his restaurants, providing all the Cornish seafood and all the other ingredients you need to recreate three courses in your own home.
You can choose from the hake, lobster, or Indonesian curry menu, and then follow the easy steps to make your own restaurant worthy dishes. No cooking knowledge is needed, you simply assemble and eat, but there are also helpful videos on their website.
The box includes a starter, such as smoked mackerel pate with sourdough and leaves from the Padstow kitchen garden, followed by Venetian hake alla carlina with rich, sweet summer tomatoes and capers, and ending with a sticky toffee pudding and Cornish clotted cream.
Henderson to Home
As a leading London restaurant supplier, Henderson has had a difficult time over the last few months, but their new nationwide delivery service has enabled them to continue operating while their regular restaurant clients were shut down.
They stock a wide variety of fish and shellfish, and the quality is unsurprisingly exceptional with all orders going from boat to door in fully recyclable packaging in less than 24 hours, helping to support ethical and sustainable fisherman around the British coast.
You can select seafood favourites, including the fabulous Boneless Box, which is available at an affordable price or the fish pie mix, which features white and brown crab meat and two large fish fillets, such as hake, pollock or cod making it perfect for couples or singles who enjoy cooking fish. They also offer a massive shellfish box of cooked or live lobster and crab and a kilo of mussels.
The brand’s close links to top chefs mean that you can be draw inspiration from the recipes on the site or try out their popular chefs collaborations, such as the dogs pollocks burger recipe box from Great British Menu winner James Cochran.
Morrisons Assorted Fish Box
Faced with extreme demands during the lockdown, some English supermarkets raised their game with a greater variety of food boxes, including Morrison.
Their initial food boxes were so successful that the company gradually introduced various themes such as vegetarian, family meat boxes and Diwali, and one of their most interesting was their seafood box. This combines incredible convenience and great value. It contains four different approachable varieties of fish that you can use to make healthy and tasty suppers, with a huge 18 portions of filleted fish to feed you and your family, all of which can be frozen. It includes six salmon fillets, four cod, four smoked haddock and four sea bass fillets, making it easy to eat fish regularly.
Knock Knock Randall and Aubin
Knock Knock is a new premium grocery box service, set up by London restaurant suppliers Smith and Brock. It was designed to give everyone at home the same access to the quality artisanal produce used by top London restaurants. It has since expanded to deliver restaurant produce all over London, with a variety of partnerships.
One of those partnerships is with Soho seafood restaurant Randall and Aubin, which has been serving up high quality fish dishes for 24 years and now gives you the chance to enjoy signature dishes such as fruits de mer or assiette de mer in the comfort of your own home.
Their produce is sourced directly from the British coastline, and means that the freshest crustaceans and fish go from sea to plate in record time. Included is stunning Weymouth crab, mussels from Poole, whole native lobster and sweet clams, cockles, whelks and more all served with Randall and Aubin potato salad and trimmings, including the seaweed!