A full version with recipes can be found at the Slow Travel Berlin website. more...
Full version with recipes can be found at Slow Travel Berlin. more...
I've been a big fan of Felicity Cloake's Perfect column for the Guardian ever since it started. more...
Full version with recipes can be found at Slow Travel Berlin.
Perhaps I am spoilt coming from the UK, where the seafood is diverse and excellent, but I find fresh fish is sadly lacking in Berlin. It would be understandable if Berlin were further from the sea, but at only a few hours drive from Altona in Hamburg, one of the biggest fish markets in Europe, one would expect the choice here to be better. As it is, it can be a bit of a mission to find good, fresh seafood.
Frische Paradies probably has the best selection. I met one of their fishmongers a few weeks ago at a party where I got to chat to him a bit more. As well as being enthusiastic about his job he was also – as one would hope - highly knowledgable about sustainability issues.
Mitte Meer is also a popular choice. Smaller fishmongers include Der Fischladen, Fisch Schmidt and Fischfabrik, though at the smaller places, you may need to order in advance to get anything much more exciting than the ubiquitous salmon fillet.
But wherever you buy your fish, do be sure to think about the ethical provenance of what you are eating. There is a good interactive guide to sustainable fish on the Guardian website, so you can equip yourself with a little knowledge beforehand, and ask in the shop for more details. Any decent fishmonger should be able to advise you on the sustainability of individual fisheries and species, or the animal welfare standards regarding farmed fish.
Once you’ve got your fish, cooking it tends to be the simple bit. Fish and seafood usually benefit from having as little done to them as possible.
I’ve offered a slightly more complex pasta dish below, but if you get your hands on some clams, you can rustle up a pasta dinner for kings in a matter of minutes. Just warm some olive oil, lightly fry some garlic and perhaps a bit of chilli, put the shellfish in the pan for just a few minutes, and you’re pretty much done. Toss with cooked pasta, squeeze over a bit of lemon and perhaps a bit of chopped parsley. Prawns are also good cooked in the same way.
Whole fish similarly benefit from simple techniques. The recipe below uses sea bream, but any medium-sized fish can be baked in the same way. Feel free to experiment a bit with the details; you could try using a different herb for example, or roasted vegetables rather than potatoes.
My final recipe takes its inspiration from a grand northern European tradition, of preserving fish in vinegar solutions. Virtually every northern European country has its own version of pickled or soused herring (e.g. rollmops, matjes). The results are often bracingly sour, but no less pleasing for that. I’ve used mackerel in my recipe and softened the sharp vinegary kick by serving it with sweet seasonal oranges and crunchy fennel.
If you’re looking for fish restaurants, I’m told Fischers Fritz is very good, if old-fashioned. But as it also comes with a hefty price tag and the solemn service one often finds at a Michelin-starred restaurant, I haven’t yet made it there myself. I can personally recommend 3 Minuten zur Meer, sister restaurant of the more formal Bandol sur Meer, both of which specialise in French Mediterranean cuisine, particularly fish.
And for fish and chips – well, we Brits are almost duty-bound to be disappointed by any offering other than the local chippy where we grew up. But the imbiss attached to Der Fischladen offers an extremely decent version that is likely to put a smile on the face of even the most homesick and difficult-to-please British immigrant.
Photos by Kristi Korotash