Fat Hen’s Fish and Seafood Cookery Course in Cornwall

Last summer Jonny & I met Caroline Davey from Fat Hen, a foraging & wild food cookery school, at the Rock Oyster Festival. I was over the moon when Caroline emailed me a few weeks ago to ask if I’d like to join & review the first Fish and Seafood Cookery Course of the year. I knew I was in for a treat!

Caroline Davy, from Fat Hen Wild Food Cookery School

The school is in a delightful barn conversion next to her home on the far west tip of Cornwall, just a stones throw from Lands End.Fat Hen Wild Food Cookery School Really cleverly designed, the purpose built kitchen is brand new and caused envy among many of us students! Sunlight poured in all day long which made it a fabulous space to work in.

A Class at Fat Hen Wild Food Cookery School

Our chef was Mark Devonshire, who ran Rick Stein’s Seafood School in Padstow for several years. His teaching manner is relaxed and fun and he kept us as entertained as he did well fed! Mark Devonshire, Chef at Fat Hen

From filleting plaice to cleaning cuttlefish and picking crab and lobster, the course was as hands on as you wanted it to be. Throughout the day we prepared, cooked and nibbled on everything from tempura cuttlefish (utterly divine and not at all rubbery) to a striking black tagliatelle that Mark dyed with squid ink.

If you ever buy and cook squid, try to get hold of cuttlefish instead next time, apparently it is half the price per kilo of squid. It’s prepared in just the same way as squid and tastes wonderful.Fat Hen Wild Food Cookery School

As if all the nibbling wasn’t enough we were also treated to a three course lunch using the seafood we’d prepped during the morning and balanced perfectly by Caroline’s wild food offerings.

A wild food cooking course at Fat Hen in Cornwall

For starter we had mackerel that we’d smoked in a stove top smoker, with a green salad of mixed wild & cultivated leaves with some freshly made wild garlic aioli. A glass of chilled white complemented this rather perfectly.

Fat Hen Wild Food Cookery SchoolThe main course was Hake on rock samphire & wilted wild greens with a rich cream and wild fennel sauce. As usual I had to be difficult, and as I couldn’t have cream Mark made me a sauce with a fresh fish stock mixed with a little of the wild garlic aioli.

That’s a handy hint for any other dairy free types, mix mayonnaise or aioli with a little warm stock for an instant creamy sauce. Genius!

Fat Hen Wild Food Cookery School

Dessert was Japanese Knotweed that had been poached in a syrup of sweet geranium leaves, and the dairy lovers had a scrummy looking panna cotta which Caroline had set using carragheen (a seaweed) in lieu of the more usual gelatine.

Fat Hen Wild Food Cookery School

And then, after a serious lunch and gossip with our fellow students, we were put back to work! Honestly, I could’ve just curled up on the sofa at this point!

Mark cooked up a spider crab, a brown crab and a lobster which he then proceeded to show us how to break into and pick the meat out of.Fat Hen Wild Food Cookery School

Whilst I’ve eaten all three of these crustaceans before, I’ve never tasted them side by side. The spider crab was a clear winner for most, if not all of us. The flesh is sweet and juicy and utterly moreish. Interestingly, the lobster was my least favourite of the three.A wild food cooking course at Fat Hen in Cornwall

Mark obviously thought we all still looked a little peckish as he then mixed the meat from all three through the cooked squid ink tagliatelle and we devoured that too. Seriously, I have no idea how Caroline manages to stay as slim as she does!

A Class at Fat Hen Wild Food Cookery School

I’ve done quite a few foodie classes now, and can honestly say that this is up there as one of the best. I was exhausted by the end of the day and so grateful that I’d taken notes all day as the tips and information were constantA Class at Fat Hen Wild Food Cookery School

Just having a peep at the Fat Hen website and I love the look of the Seaweed Foraging and Cookery Class, and the Game Cookery day. If I learnt half as much about either of those topics as I did on this fish & seafood day, I’d be very happy.

Mark Devonshire, Chef at Fat Hen

PS you still here? Check out the Fat Hen compost loo – how cool??! :)

A wild food cooking course at Fat Hen in Cornwall

Massive thanks to Caroline for inviting me to experience a day with the Fat Hen Wild Food Cookery School. As always, all views are my own.

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  1. Mike,aka midas. says

    I like spider crabs too,used to go to The Red Lobster in Calgary,Alberta.As much as you could eat for$$$,Big bib,board n mallet,table with a hole in the centre,with a bin under it.Crabs brought out by the bucket full!!!!!mmmmmmmmmm

  2. says

    Hi, In your post it says you ate Japanese Knotweed for dessert??? I am thrilled because I have heard various different bits of advice from different people saying it’s poisonous and I was convinced that it wasn’t. I am really keen to find out what bits you can eat and where I can find some recipes. The course looks fabulous.
    Kay :-)

    • Jane Sarchet says

      Hi Kay, we sure did & it tasted great!
      I believe it was the stems that Caroline poached. It does contain the same acid as rhubarb & sorrel which can cause some people problems. Also in the UK the council sprays patches of Japanese Knotweed trying to eradicate it. You certainly wouldn’t want to eat the stuff that has been sprayed!
      However, I am no expert so please contact Caroline at Fat Hen, as she is the font of all knowledge when it comes to wild food!
      Janie x

    • Jane Sarchet says

      As the only patch of Japanese Knotweed near us is regularly sprayed with weekdkiller by the council I doubt it! Think I’ll stick to rhubarb Bintu :)
      Janie x

    • Jane Sarchet says

      Hey Kavey, thanks for taking the time to leave a comment :) Isn’t she/he/the place wonderful! I had the best time and can’t wait to go back again soon!
      Are you doing anything with fat Hen this year? I am so tempted by the game course.
      Janie x

    • Jane Sarchet says

      Fiona, it was GREAT fun! You should check it out next time you’d let out of the city for good behaviour :D
      Janie x

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