Kent's Farmers' Markets
How to find the freshest fish for sale on Kent's coast
While Kent has long been known as the Garden of England, it’s easy to forget the rich and varied coastline which runs around more than half of Kent. We all know that fish is good for us and the fact that it’s often known as ‘brain food’ gives this protein-packed, vitamin and mineral rich food great appeal.
However, when it comes to cooking fish there can still be some reticence and that’s when the interaction with an experienced fishmonger at one of Kent’s Farmers’ Markets comes into its own.
Arcade Fisheries is one such stallholder – a family run fish retail and wholesale business that, was first set up in 1937. Third-generation Paul Saxby has been involved in the trade since he was a young lad and four decades on still says: “Every day is different, as is each season of fish, so there is never a dull day.”
Specialties include the famous Rye Bay scallops, wild seabass, Dover sole, brill, turbot, dressed crabs, mackerel, lemon sole, cod and smoked fish, including oak-smoked haddock and hot smoked salmon. At least 30 varieties are fished locally in day boats.”
Paul says: “Customers are happy to queue to have their fish filleted in front of their eyes and it’s a great chance to exchange recipe ideas and for us to offer tips and hints on how to cook each fillet.”
The sea certainly runs through the veins of the Botterells. John, who came out of the merchant navy and returned to the sea via his commercial fishing company set up in 1976, runs Botterells Fresh Fish with his sons Jasper, a former boat builder, and George who has taken over the fishing.
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“The fresher the fish are, the better they taste!” says John. “Our customers like to know where their food comes from and as a small, local fish supplier, the Farmers’ Markets are never more than 35 or 40 miles away – so we are able to deliver on both freshness and provenance.”
Botterells’ small day boat means the fish are never out of the water for more than eight hours and the catches are incredibly local as George fishes out of Rye Harbour along the East Sussex/Kent coastline.
For those who have never moved beyond the safety of cod, John’s hot tip for August is Sand Dabs. “These are a wonderful local delicacy and a cross between plaice and lemon sole. They have a lovely sweet nutty taste and are great under the grill or pan fried. They are never too big and are a very easy fish to eat.”
Where to find us?
Arcade Fisheries appears at Penshurst, Tunbridge Wells (Pantiles) and West Malling and Botterells Fresh Fish features at Cranbrook, Penshurst, Rolvenden, Tunbridge Well (Town Hall) and Wye. Just over half of the 40 farmers’ market have regular fish stallholders.
�— If you’re stocking up for your freezer, always check the fish has been freshly caught �— Quality fresh fish should have a shiny ‘bloom’ and a bright sheen to it
�— The fish should have bright eyes and be firm to touch
�—Fresh fish should have clear, red gills
Coastal day trips
If you fancy combining a day trip to the coast with a visit to one of Kent’s many coastal Farmers’ Markets, download the free Soul to Sole Trail Guide from Produced in Kent’s website. The guide encourages readers to visit Kent’s coast and sample the freshly caught and prepared native fish. It also includes details of the county’s flagship fish restaurants, fishmongers and mobile fishmongers – plus a circular walk along the White Cliffs of Dover to coincide with St Margaret’s-at-Cliffe Farmers’ Market (last Friday of each month).
What’s in season