Why you should be friends with your local fishmonger
…or isn’t Twitter nice sometimes? And serendipity. Quick shout out for that too.
Anthony Bourdain theorised that butchers are all heart and fishmongers are miserable buggers, but I’ve met lots of people who disprove the theory and Jonathan Norris is one of them. Whether freezing off his unmentionables manning his Pimlico fish stall or ensconced in his almost-as-chilly Victoria Park shop, Jonathan offers brilliant service always with a smile and fantastic quality fish. The kind of chap who will fillet you a line caught mackerel while taking the piss out of your football team, then ask how your dinner was on Twitter.
Meanwhile, near Tottenham Court Road today, Chris Pople proved himself entirely unable to just have a sandwich, instead nipping into Fino for a spot of lunch. On their menu is MASSIVE RED PRAWN, which Chris professed to be life-changing and to taste like it had been injected with bisque. Twitter was awash with curiosity, envy and bragging, and being an only child who likes fancy crustacea obviously I joined in.
Being a social media maestro and thoroughly lovely chap, Jonathan sent me a DM telling me to hot foot it to his Hackney shop where he had a little present. In the interests of fair exchange I grabbed some pork tenderloin and lamb neck fillet from t’Pig on the way, but feel that with the twenty odd quid of wild gambero rosso I was gifted, I still owe Jonathan a sausage or two. Jonathan keeps the smaller sized prawns in stock because the biggies tend to represent larger investment than most are willing to make for a single shrimp, and because although this bit of Hackney is now veh, veh nice, it’s still the East End, innit. I say in stock because, like Birds Eye’s best peas, they’re actually fresher freshly frozen than they would be transported any other way from Southern Italy, so he keeps a few in the deep freeze. And they’re properly, actually wild unlike most prawns out there – meat’s my specialist subject these days, so I’ll point to this excellent post for more info.
Such precious prawns need careful treatment, advice was sought from Thomas Blythe, Fino’s head front of house chap and writer type, someone with whom I have a small history of begging for recipes (at least he got a novelty egg cup for the last one). On the grill for about 60 seconds each side. Little bit of salt as they’re already quite salty – thanks, TB!
I did a single prawn test run at lunch, and it was so delicious I ended up eating the shell and giving the head a good chew too – quite unlike anything I’ve tried before, just so very sweet and prawny. Chris nails the description with his bisque comment above.
If you’re in the market for some, get in touch with Jonathan – if you haven’t already legged it to Fino.
Jonathan Norris of Pimlico (and Hackney)
207 Victoria Park Road, E9 7JN
Tachbrook Street Market