James Cottrill

Some thoughts from the mind of James

There’s something fish(y) here

One thing I love about working in Fulham is the market. Every day on the North End Road, dozens of traders set up their stalls and sell everything you could possibly want, from fresh fruit and veg to fantastic Pad Thai for £5. It’s a truly fantastic place, and if you’ve never been I fully recommend it. I’ve always been a big supporter of local businesses. When I lived in St Andrews I had a fantastic local butchers, two fishmongers (sadly it seems one has since closed) and a greengrocer where I could buy everything I needed for dinner. These shops have a lot to do with why I support local traders. Being able to go into a shop and be known by the staff (I don’t think that many students went into the butchers to buy beef cheek!) was a great experience. I tursted the staff and they never let me down. The shops in St Andrews really helped re-ignite my passion for cooking. Sadly in the area that I live, there are no independent shops. If you want to buy fish or meat you need to get it from a supermarket.

Fortunately I ended up working in Fulham, and so I’m able to visit the market and buy everything I need from local traders. They’ve also got amazing butchers and fishmongers who know what they’re selling and I can buy in small portions, perfect when cooking for one! Having a fishmonger is probably the most valuable shop, as the supermarkets by only really sell overpriced and under portioned cuts of fish, which isn’t what you want! Being in London, I’m also within spitting distance of the Billingsgate Fish Market, which runs Tuesday to Saturday from 4am-9am. Normally it’s not that practical to get to, however on Saturday morning, when the night tube is still running, it is possible to get to, and that’s what I ended up doing this weekend.

Although I forgot to set an alarm, I’ve (un)fortunately started waking up at 4am every day, without asking. So having woken up just after 4, I decided that this weekend was the one to go to the fish market. Having got the tube to Canary Wharf, I struggled slightly to find the entrance, taking a slightly convoluted route all the way around the outer fence to get to the main entrance. Although I arrived at 5, an hour after the market had started, it was still buzzing and there was plenty of fish left to choose from.Billingsgate Fish Market

I didn’t really know what I wanted to buy, save for that I wanted fish, which is always dangerous when I go shopping. I’ll often go to the shops for just one thing and come back with a £50 shop! I began by just wandering around and taking in the sights and smells, getting a feel for the price and what was on offer. Unsurprisingly everywhere sold pretty much the same fish at around the same price.

Tiger Prawns

Eventually I settled on four things: A side of salmon, six plaice fillets, a kilo of squid and a kilo of scallops. For under £50 I consider it an absolute steal. I may not have needed it and the squid and scallops may be difficult to turn into a meal on their own, the experience alone was definitely worth it. I’ll definitely be going back there again, although probably not for at least a month!

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