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The Fish Society > FAQS

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

GENERAL FAQ
Established for more than 10 years, The Fish Society is the UK's largest mail order and internet fishmonger. We have nearly 10,000 members, who value our superb quality, huge range and to-the-door delivery, backed up by wonderful customer service.
By buying some fish from us.

We only sell frozen fish. We guarantee that it is of the highest quality and we will refund your money if you do not agree. "Highest quality" means that we select larger grades of fish and that it was VERY fresh at the point of freezing.

Why do we sell only frozen fish? Because we believe that OUR frozen fish will give you the same eating experience as buying fish at the quayside and eating it straightaway.

We conducted a live experiment on the Radio 4 Food Programme. This involved taking two fillets FROM THE SAME FISH (a large halibut). It was a very fresh fish. One fillet was frozen and the other was kept fresh. Both were cooked in the same pan using the same (simple) recipe. None of the guests on the programme could distinguish the fresh fillet from the frozen fillet.

Frozen fish is highly convenient and unlike fresh fish, does not need to be eaten immediately. IT IS A MYTH that frozen fish is inferior to fresh (although the myth is logical, for the reasons explained under "Why does frozen fish have the reputation of being inferior to fresh fish?"). 

What counts is the quality of the fish that was frozen.

Because a lot of frozen fish is indeed of inferior quality at the point of freezing.

Not all fish is of equal quality when landed. It is a natural consequence that frozen processors tend to buy the less expensive, inferior fish, thus traditionally leaving the better, more expensive fish, for the fresh fish trade. We buy our fish alongside fresh fish processors, paying whatever price is necessary to maintain our ALWAYS TOP QUALITY guarantee.

If you buy fresh fish TO FREEZE YOURSELF, then unless you are dealing with only a small quantity, you are unlikely to get a good result. Freezing fish is a specialist process and needs to be completed very quickly - ideally within minutes. The longer the process takes, the larger the ice crystals formed in the fish. These crystals harm the muscle structure and result in a disappointing eating experience. You will not be able to freeze fish quickly enough in your home freezer, which will take ten or twenty times as long to freeze fish as a commercial freezing plant.

Furthermore, frozen fish needs to be protected from the cold air surrounding it, which also harms the muscle stucture. To prevent this harm, frozen fish should be vacuum-packed before freezing or lightly "glazed" after freezing.

We might add that buying fresh fish is absolutely no guarantee of quality, anyway. As you know, fresh fish deteriorates very quickly. By the time it has made its way from the quayside to your fridge, it is often inferior to fish which was selected for quality immediately after being landed, and frozen straightaway.

Fish is a global industry. More than half our products are sourced from abroad, via a complex supply chain which makes it difficult for end users to understand accurately what conditions pertained at the beginning of the chain. No mainstream fish retailer - us included - can put his hand on his heart and say "Everything I sell was caught or farmed in a sustainable manner".

 

That said, when we can see a clearly sustainable option, we take it. Our cod and haddock fillets are come from Norway and Iceland, where strong government controls ensure fish stocks are well-managed. Our farmed fresh salmon comes from organic sources. All our sea bass is rod-caught by a single Cornish supplier. Our scallops are hand-caught by divers. We could source all these fish at a lower cost, but we have made these choices because we believe they are right.

 

Nevertheless, some fish in our range provoke hard questions from environmentalists. These include tuna, whitebait, king prawns, eel and skate. These fish are all popular and widely available at present. The neat choice of simply dropping these fish from our range would decimate our business with no practical effect on supply. Only governments can prevent catching of over-exploited fish or the development of unsustainable fish-farms.

 

We support the Marine Bill which is being considered by Parliament in early 2009, and in particular, the controversial  policy of establishing over a period of ten years "no catch marine reserves" covering 30 per cent of UK waters. We invested considerable resources in urging our members to support this policy by writing to their MPs, using an effective internet platform set up by the Marine Conservation Society.

 

Starting in 2004, The Fish Society reserved 10 per cent of profits (or 1 per cent of sales, if larger) for donations to marine conservation organisations including the Marine Stewardship Council, the Marine Conservation Society and Save the Albatross. Current economic circumstances have forced us to review this pledge, and we expect to suspend it from spring 2009. However, we plan to re-instate it when circumstances allow. We believe that if all fish retailers made such a pledge, the prospects of marine sustainability would be significantly enhanced.

 

If you are interested in these issues, we recommend two thoughtful books, which are both available from Amazon:

The End of the Line by Charles Clover

The Unnatural hostory of the Sea by Callum Roberts

 

98% of our lines are frozen separately. Those which are frozen together are:

  • Langoustines and some kinds of whole king prawns (our peeled prawns are always individuallly frozen), which would be damaged if allowed to jostle against each other. However, these packs include directions for easily separating the fish you want to eat now from those you want to save for a later occasion (by simply holding the fish under a running cold water tap to melt the ice between the fish. This task should never take more than two minutes.)
  • Herring melts. Sorry - but it's just not economic to freeze small and floppy melts individually. Melts are frozen into a 450g/1lb block. You can still, however, use some now and keep the rest for later, by allowing the block to "semi thaw" for a couple of hours. and then cutting it or pulling it apart. As long as you do not allow the block to thaw fully, you will not come to any harm from doing this.
  • Kippers. Kippers freeze best when frozen in pairs, open side to open side. This helps protect the fish. However, you can semi-thaw your pair of kippers and tease them apart in just the same way (in fact more easily) as the melts.
  • Mis-shapes. These are frozen together for the same reason as the melts. Our pack size however is quite small (340g/2 servings), so unless you're eating for one, this should not be a problem.
BBC Good Food magazine described our fish as "Top Quality" and Good Housekeeping magazine called it "Exceptional Value".

Once you become a member of The Fish Society you will receive special offers, recipes and the benefit of our 5% loyalty discount if you spend over £65 every three months. 

1) We stock more kinds of fish than any other fishmonger – almost 200 varieties! 
2) The quality of our fish is never compromised. All fish is freshly frozen very soon after landing and will stay frozen until you defrost it. Frozen fish should be defrosted only at the point of cooking. Many supermarket fresh fish counters sell defrosted fish.
3) We always seek to buy the highest quality grades of fish. This usually means - amongst other things - that we buy larger grades of fish. Our scampi supplier has 42 grades of scampi. Ours is his best and most expensive. We are his only customer for this grade, which is large and totally unadulterated. It's expensive, but it makes fabulous eating. We adopt the same approach throughout our range. 

According to the Food Standards Agency we should be eating at least two portions of fish a week including one of oily fish. But most people aren't eating enough fish. Fish and shellfish are rich in protein and minerals, and oily fish is rich in omega 3 fatty acids.

Oily fish such as sardines, herring, mackerel, trout and salmon are all rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids, which help prevent heart disease. These fatty acids are also important for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding because they help a baby's nervous system to develop.
Oily fish are also a good source of vitamins A and D.

Here'a list of oily fish:

  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Pilchards
  • Kipper
  • Eel
  • Whitebait
  • Tuna
  • Anchovies
  • Swordfish
  • Bloater
  • Carp
  • Sprats

 

Most people should be eating more oily fish because omega 3 fatty acids are very good for our health. However, oily fish can contain low levels of pollutants that can build up in the body.

For this reason there are recommendations for the maximum number of portions of oily fish we should be eating each week (a portion is about 140g):

2 portions of oily fish 

  • girls and women who might have a baby one day
  • women who are pregnant or breastfeeding   

4 portions of oily fish

  • other women
  • men and boys

But remember, don't give up eating oily fish because the health benefits are greater than the risks as long as you don't eat more than the recommended maximums. 

Our product packs havee preparation directions and usually include a simple recipe with a maximum six steps.
Our recipe library is available on the recipe link at the bottom of our home page. If you can't find what you're looking for, call us on 0800 279 3474 - we'll be delighted to help. Sign up for our newsletters to receive updates and recipes. Click here to sign up.

Don't give any fish or shellfish to babies younger than six months because there is a chance they might have an allergic reaction.
Children should avoid eating any shark, swordfish or marlin. This is because the levels of mercury in these fish can affect the development of children's growing nervous systems.
You might also want to avoid giving raw shellfish to babies and children to reduce their risk of getting food poisoning.

The Food Standards Agency states that you can eat most types of fish when you're pregnant. But there are a few types you should avoid and some others where you should limit the amount you eat.

Avoid eating any shark, swordfish and marlin. Limit the amount of tuna you eat to no more than two tuna steaks a week (weighing about 140g cooked or 170g raw) or four medium-size cans of tuna a week (with a drained weight of about 140g per can). This is because of the levels of mercury in these fish. At high levels, mercury can harm a baby's developing nervous system.

Have no more than two portions of oily fish a week. Oily fish includes fresh tuna (not canned tuna, which does not count as oily fish), mackerel, sardines and trout.

But remember that eating fish is good for your health and the development of your baby, so you should still aim to eat at least two portions of fish a week, including one portion of oily fish.

Raw shellfish
Avoid raw shellfish when you're pregnant. This is because raw shellfish can sometimes contain harmful bacteria and viruses that could cause food poisoning. And food poisoning can be particularly unpleasant when you're pregnant.

ONLINE ORDERING

All deliveries are made by an overnight parcel courier such as United Parcel Service or APC. Your order leaves us at 4pm (Monday to Friday) and is delivered to you the next day.

 

Each item you order is vacuum-packed or packed in a high quality plastic bag and then in an insulated box. Your box contains dry ice to guarantee your order stays frozen until the evening of the delivery day.

 

We deliver on the date you specify when placing your order.

You can choose any day other than Sundays, Mondays, bank holidays, the days following bank holidays and the days between Christmas and New Year.

 

Your delivery will arrive between 8.30am and 6pm, unless you specify a BEFORE NOON delivery (extra £5).

 

 

It's not a problem. When making your first order, please always complete the "IF OUT" directions. We then hold these along with your address details and will follow them for future orders until you change them. 

Typical if outs are "In garage" or "At front door".

PLEASE AVOID asking for your fish to be left with a neighbour UNLESS YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY SURE THEY WILL BE IN.

Yes, as long as it’s an address within the UK.

As long as you ask us nicely, and tell us what the problem was, we will always refund or replace any fish you are unhappy about without quibbling. Your credit card or your account with us - at your choice - will be credited with the relevant amount. Please contact us on 01428 687768.

Not if you don't want to. Instead, you can call us on 0800 279 3474.

If you have our catalogue (request our catalogue) you can order by post or fax.

 

Our standard delivery and handling charge is £10 for orders below £65. On orders over £65 the delivery charge is £5 and on orders of £100 and more delivery is FREE. 

Addresses in remote postcodes will incur a surcharge. This will be confirmed with you before we send your order. If you are unwilling to pay it, we'll refund your payment.

The delivery charge for orders required to be delivered the next day is £12.50 regardless of the size of the order.

Saturday deliveries, which must be placed by phone, cost £17.50 in addition to the standard delivery charge of £0, £5 or £10.

 

Yes and we can also change your delivery address, if necessary. Order amendments cannot be dealt with online - you'll need to call us on 0800 279 3474 or email sallieATthefishsociety.co.uk (replace AT with the normal symbol). Most order amendments can be dealt with up to 1pm on the day before delivery.

Yes. Just call us on 0800 279 3474 by noon on the day before your delivery date.


You can use the following major credit and debit cards: Visa, Mastercard, Switch, Maestro and Solo.

When you confirm your order, we’ll send you an email containing all the details.

 

If your credit or debit card has been refused or your payment did not go through for any other reason, you can contact us and we'll take your payment on the phone. Please call 0800 279 3474.

 

We sell 2 kinds of lobster - European (or the very similar North American) lobster - which has claws, and Rock lobster, which is the same exquisite meat and taste, but this creature has no claws.

 

Traditional lobsters with claws

European (and North American) lobster is sold whole. So you get the claws and also the head and torso - which has some gourmet parts, including the rich liver (or tomalley), although this is not to everybody's taste.

 

With clawed lobsters, you get a lot of shell and about 35% edible meat. You never know how much meat is in the claws for sure until you crack them open. They can be packed with meat or they can be only half full of meat... it's almost random.

 

Rock lobster

Since rock lobsters have no claws, we sell them headless - you just get the tail. And that means you get 90%+ meat.

 

Which one?

We definitely recommend rock lobster for "the best in mouth experience". You get more meat for your money, and better meat - it's all in one lump. Our rock lobsters are raw. But they are easy to cook and it's easy to extract from the shell. The instructions are on the pack.

 

Yet there is something special about the "visual spectacle" of a bright red lobster with claws. We offer these cooked or raw. We always recommend raw because you get "a better in-mouth experience" from a lobster you have cooked at the time of eating, than from a defrosted frozen pre-cooked lobster. Cooking a lobster is easy: defrost it thoroughly (overnight). Then place in a pan of boiling salted water for 15 minutes. Our pack includes full details. Despite our advice, most people buy ready-cooked lobsters, because they don't want to cook them themselves.

 

Both kinds of lobster are easy to split down the middle either before or after cooking, as long as you have a large sharpish knife with a solid, non-bendy blade. Just hold the lobster down firmly (back down) and press your knife firmly through.

 

If you're having a clawed lobster, you might want to buy a couple of lobster picks from our accessories section. They're pretty handy for extracting that last bit of neat from the end of the claw. If youy do this before cooking, you wil be able to take the meat out and cook it more precisely than if you did it "in shell". Then you can return the lobster to its shell for serving - to add that little bit of visyual excitement.

 

Here's a good recipe. You will find others on our website.

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