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Monday, 23 July 2012

The Saucy Fish Co. Smoked Haddock with Davidstow Cheddar & Chive Sauce

Regular readers may recall that, while this is the first time I'm trying an actual Saucy Fish Co. product, their advertising gave me an idea way back in January of this year. At that time, they were advertising quite prolifically, but their products weren't widely available in my neck of the woods.

More recently, a meagre selection of their fish-and-sauce packages have turned up on local shelves, so I figured it was only fair to give them a try. One observation I'd make straight off the bat is that the so-called 'salmon steak' that comes with their chilli, ginger and lime sauce is basically the size of a fish finger. I know good salmon is expensive, but that's just insulting, even as part of a 2 for £5 deal at Sainsbury's.

I picked up both of the other options on offer, this smoked haddock (an old family favourite that I haven't had in quite some time) and a sea bass fillet with another, similarly cheesy sauce. Their concept is just that simple, in their own words: "When you fancy a nice bit of fish, you want the right sauce to go with it. So we've matched our top-quality fillets with a delicious sauce inside an oven-ready bag - for a lip-smacking fish-dish that's ready before you know it."

Ignoring the way my teeth grated at a sentence begun with a redundant and superfluous "so", this particular package is somewhat like the Birds Eye "Bake to Perfection" range in that everything is contained within a bag that you literally just stick in the oven for about a quarter of an hour. They even go so far as to add a serving suggestions - creamy mash and peas, in this case - to make things easier still. Allergens are listed alongside the ingredients, though I'm tempted to suggest that 'fish' is a somewhat superfluous addition to that list. Then again, this is the age in which a fast-food restaurant can be sued for not warning a customer that it's fresh coffee was hot, so perhaps they're being prudent.

While their portion of salmon was miserly, the haddock fillet in this was a normal-sized thing, so I have no complaints there. In fact, the fillet was larger than the bag, and so had been folded over itself. Not ideal for something being cooked in a bag, but it worked well enough. The sauce in this isn't so much a sauce as it is a herb-y butter and, where supermarket own-brands and the likes of Birds Eye would tend to give you just one medium-sized 'knob' of their butter, The Saucy Fish Co. pull out all the stops and add four or five smaller servings which rattle about the fish in the bag. The end result seems to be more than the usual amount of sauce, but its appearance is nothing like the photograph on the packaging.

What the photo shows is a smoked haddock fillet topped with a thick, opaque sauce, something akin to the Mornay sauce used for Croque Madame Muffins. What you actually get - pretty much as I expected - is a runny, mostly transparent melted-butter-with-herbs affair. Some of the Davidstow Cheddar seems to stick to the bag and is rather difficult to remove while it's hot.

So, ultimately, this saucy fish was a bit of a let-down. Make no mistake, the fish is excellent, and the sauce does taste good... but the end result is not dissimilar enough to a regular smoked haddock fillet that's been slathered with butter and topped with herbs - the cheese component is barely there.

That having been said, once again, The Saucy Fish Co. has inspired me to try making something from scratch, adapting the Mornay sauce recipe to use Cheddar and the herbs, etc. listed in the ingredients, hopefully resulting in something that looks much more like the photo on the packaging.

I guess that's a success of a kind...

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