British Supplier Q&A Series - QA Fish

The Fish Society | 09.03.2021

Continuing with our British supplier Q&A series, we spoke to QA Fish and found out a bit more about their Scottish scallops.

QA Fish is based in a prime location adjacent to the Scalloway fish market and harbour on the West coast of the Shetland Isles. An experienced team of hand filleters and scallop shuckers are all dedicated to sourcing and supplying the very best of Shetland’s seafood products. Their location in Shetland means they have access to the freshest raw material products which they source from local vessels and markets daily.

QA Fish has MSC accreditation which means that they are an environmentally responsible fishery. It is extremely important to them that they use the safest and most sustainable methods to keep everything as nature intended, giving sealife the chance to rejuvenate.

We source big and gorgeously sweet Scottish scallops from QA Fish. These scallops have a vivid orange roe which is stronger in taste and pairs perfectly with the scallop meat to create a flavoursome meal.

Here's what Robert from QA Fish had to say...

How long have you been involved in the seafood industry? Have you always been a buyer?

Fishing is in the family, my dad was a fisherman before becoming a journalist and author, most of his work relating to fish and fishermen, so I guess it's in the blood! I grew up in a fishing community, in fact the premises we are in now, was built on the foreshore that we used to play on as kids. I have had many roles within the fishing industry, from auctioneer on the local market, to factory operative right in the heart of things, but I love getting on the market at 5am every morning to see what is available that day.


Why is the MSC sustainable fishery status on your king scallops important? What is done differently in your MSC certified sustainable scallop fishery compared to an equivalent non-certified fishery?

The Shetland Islands has 1000 miles of coastline, you can’t physically get more than 3 miles away from the sea, we live and breathe with the sea up here, we look after the seabeds as if it was farmland, by segregation and fishing zones, we have created the safest, most sustainable methods of keeping everything as nature intended, giving it the chance to rejuvenate.


As a buyer, what are some of the challenges you face when buying scallops?

The weather !!! We live in one of the most exposed stormy parts of the planets, which of course is ruggedly beautiful and great for getting fresh produce from the sea, but regularly it means the boats just can’t get out there, but the main thing with a small community is you know almost everyone, you may well have gone to school with some of the guys that you buy scallops from, it's great to be that way, you’re all in this together, for the long term.


What's the key to producing great scallop meat? Interested to hear about the process from, buying to processing. 

Freshness, the guys fish from dawn till dusk, we collect them directly from the boat as soon as they land, they are processed at 5:30am the next morning, and on the way a few hours later to the end user. The guys that land their catch to us have done so for years, we pay good prices to get the best stuff. It’s a mutual respect between fisherman and buyer. The guys we deal with, we have dealt with them for many years, and intend to do so for as long as possible.


What's your favourite way to cook scallops?

Keep it simple and let the flavour speak for itself, a little bit of butter, white wine and pan fry them for a short time, lovely!

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