We used to work together and spent our lunchtimes with mutual food envy for each other’s lunch boxes. The content of our Tupperware became prominent at the lunch table and we found ourselves sharing recipes and tips with colleagues. It was over one of those lunchtime chats that we came up with the idea of launching a food blog, so thanks to our old work friends for giving us the inspiration!
We are both from areas that are known for their seafood, and know a lot of people who avoid cooking it themselves. Our aim was to create a blog that dispelled the myths around cooking seafood at home and get people trying ingredients they hadn’t considered before, like cockles. This combined with being conscious of eating sustainably and seasonally, and The Gills Gals was born.
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What we would give to be sat by the sea eating this plate of whitebait right now 🥰 we are both from the seaside and missing it greatly! . . . . . . . #whitebait #eatingfortheinsta #eattheworld #eatmoreseafood #eatmorefish #seafoodrestaurant #seafoodlover #seafoodlovers #seasideeats #foodblogger #fishsupper #bytheseaside #summereats #foodporn #foodstagram #whitstable
We are both pretty lucky with where we live in London. Gemma has Ellis and Jones only a few minutes walk away, Becky has Moxons and in between the two of us is Brockley Market and Veasey and Sons. There are also great online shops like Farm Drop, FishBox, Fish for Thought and SoleShare. We have been down to Billingsgate Market a couple of times, worth a trip if you haven’t been, but the early mornings weren’t for us… We will leave that to our fishmongers! We are always speaking to our suppliers about where they source their seafood from, and any recommendations they have. It’s a learning curve for us too so we try to speak to as many experts as possible.
Fishmongers are passionate about seafood and have many great tips up their sleeve – have a chat with your local fishmonger for advice on what’s in season, cooking tips and more!
Give it a try! Start with simple ingredients like prawns or tinned fish in pasta or salads. Once you master even just one dish you will revisit it time and time again, and then want to try more things.
Through our blog, and our supper clubs, we try and make seafood less scary. Cod and salmon are great, but there is so much more to try and experiment with. Eating a broader variety of seafood puts less pressure on stocks in the UK, and supports small businesses. It can also be much cheaper, with overlooked species like coley or whiting, coming in much cheaper than their cousin cod. Rope grown mussels for example are very sustainable and cheap. Most supermarkets have them either on the fish counter or in the vacuum bags in the fridge.
A lot of people are thinking more about what goes on their plates. Whether that’s cutting down on beef consumption or eating less meat and paying close attention to where it’s farmed. Seafood is often missed from these conversations and we want to change that. The NHS recommends two portions of fish a week and tinned tuna doesn’t count. It’s about finding balance and shopping sustainably, that doesn’t necessarily mean spending a fortune at fancy fishmongers. We want to educate people on what they can do.
For us seafood lovers we want to ensure that seafood is around for the foreseeable and we all have a part to play in that. We can’t expect to eat cod every day and not see any issues. We always recommend alternatives in our recipes so people can adapt and try something different. We served up tempura cockles like popcorn at one of our supper clubs and they went down a storm, to a crowd where most had never tried them before.
I come from near Rock and Padstow, both iconic for seafood in different ways. In Padstow, Rick Stein really shone a light on seafood in the area, and it’s been amazing to see the likes of Prawn on the Lawn and Paul Ainsworth championing that too. Fishing is at the heart of the town, from the employment that comes with it and the generations this passes on down through, all the way to feeding the restaurant goers with the freshest possible seafood. Across the river is Porthilly Shellfish, known for its incredible oysters and mussels. We visited them last year and they gave us a tour and talked us through their production. I am an extremely proud Cornish foodie, even now living in London! I go home every couple of months and always have a new foodie spot I want to try. The industry is really thriving with Cornwall being renowned for its quality produce and suppliers and it’s amazing to see.
Newlyn harbour in Cornwall
If we see something in the fishmongers or on a menu that is Cornish it definitely makes us happy! Cornish sardines, oysters, hake, mussels and mackerel are all favourites.
It’s got to be the tempura cockles mentioned above – people have an instant reaction when they think of cockles but this completely changes their impression. And they are so moreish!
Tempura cockles by the Gills Gals – delicious!
Gemma: Everyone always asks me to make smoked mackerel pate – it’s a staple at our supper club and my love actually came from my Aunty Sally bringing me pots of the stuff from a young age. Every time she visited she brought a pot of it for me – you can keep your chocolate, I was happy with my mackerel pate! Another favourite is a fish curry – I love India and have been a few times in recent years and done a cooking class each time. I love recreating these flavours at home and imagining I am back there!
Becky: If I’m celebrating at a restaurant – or any excuse I can think of – I love getting a fancy platter of cold seafood. Prawns, oysters, whelks – the lot! Cooking at home it has to be either a smoked mackerel carbonara or udon noodles with miso steamed fish.
Gemma and Becky (The Gills Gals)
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