School of Fish with Iceland

So last week I had the most amazing opportunity to collaborate with Iceland and spend the day learning to cook fish. Now, I love food. If you know me or have followed for a while then you will know that I love food. So I was super excited when I found out that we would be learning how to cook all day. This was basically my dream.

Cocoa Chelsea Iceland School of fish Neil Nugent

Now, I will be honest with you – the first image that pops into my head when I think of Iceland is Kerry Katona yelling at me through the TV screen saying, “thats why Mums go to Iceland“.

And then also Peter Andre? and the ‘I’m a Celebrity’ adverts.. was Katie Price mixed into that at all? So – yeah, that was my impression of it.

But other than that, I didn’t have much experience with it as a shopping destination. I thought it just a place to buy frozen food, and that’s it. I don’t know why – but I just never thought that the quality of the food was going to be any good – so I didn’t go. I guess that comes down to lack of education about frozen food – I just through “Oh if its all frozen then it won’t be nice fresh healthy food”. I had been into the local one by an ex-boyfriend’s house a few times but we normally bought chicken nuggets and ice cream and that was it.

So I was a little bit apprehensive about the day as I had never made a proper meal from Iceland food – let alone doing fancy, delicious, recipes.

I’ll pop in a bit of a spoiler alert for the rest of this post – it was an AMAZING day – such a great event and I am SO glad I was given the opportunity to go – and I really hope I can pass on some of my excitement onto any of you who are still sceptical. I was genuinely surprised at how much I loved the whole day but especially the incredible food, prepared by the VERY talented Neil Nugent. (Does it help that all our meals were created by amazing chefs – sure. But still – the quality of the food was sublime.

So, here it is: the #PowerofFrozen.

We started our day with a quick tour of the Iceland store in Clapham. They have completely redesigned the stores from the ones I used to go into, which were big and white and looked quite hospital-like. They had minimal character and that huge, orange Iceland logo. Now the store looks like a lovely, modern supermarket, like other high street supermarkets (in a good way). Except, most of the store is taken up with these huge, cleverly laid out freezers (to avoid having to rummage around to find things).

Cocoa Chelsea Iceland fish freezers frozen food 1

We walked around, discussing products that Iceland are really proud of: new produce that they are bringing out, and incredible ideas like frozen seafood dishes that you just cook and serve with pasta and BAM.

Also guys – they have FROZEN AVOCADOS and FROZEN SUSHI??!?

Cocoa Chelsea Iceland School of fish avocado frozen vegetablesCocoa Chelsea Iceland School of fish sushi frozen

Haven’t tried either of these but OH MY GOD I AM EXCITED TO TRY THEM. FROZEN SUSHI?? I just can’t deal with that. How does it work? I mean – the rice? Frozen?  But how?

I just need to try it – I’ll report back. But back to the fish. And here I must add a slight disclaimer that these were all facts that I learnt throughout the day. I’m no scientist and don’t take this as gospel.

Frozen fish from Iceland does EXTREMELY well – they were saying for their ‘3 for £10’ range of frozen fish, they sell around £500,000 worth a week. A WEEK.

And for anyone (like myself) who was still like – “yeah but surely fresh fish is better than having frozen fish?”. Oh no. We have been wrong for a long time. Frozen fish (and many other things that I will get onto), they say, is the way forward if you want the healthiest option.

Apparently – most ‘fresh fish’ displayed in supermarket fish counters has previously been frozen or transported on ice. I know – I feel conned too. Plus – fish normally takes well over a week to get from sea to store – losing valuable nutrients and freshness in the process. However, freezing is ‘nature’s pause button so the goodness is locked in’.

However – at Iceland – their fish is caught, descaled (is that the right word), gutted, filleted? deboned etc etc and then frozen straight away. Boom. All the nutrients locked in . (And – let’s get nerdy – their advanced freezing technology reduces cell structure damage in the food – making it difficult for bacteria, yeast or mould to multiply – therefore minimising the risk of food storage).

Basically the best way to get ‘fresh’ fish is to freeze it – keeping it fresher – rather than buying it fresh – when it isn’t as fresh as if you bought it frozen. Get it? Good.

I know – mind blown.

I just never really thought about it – but it’s true – if you buy fish in a supermarket that is fresh – it was probably caught around 9 days ago. And then you take it home and it has a shelf life (/ fridge life) of likeeeee 2 – 3 days. And what do most people then do? Put it in the freezer so it lasts longer!?

Whereas if you buy frozen fish, which has been frozen the same day it was caught – you take it home, put it in the freezer and just defrost it on the day you want to eat it – with all of its freshness. I can totally see how it is so much better – why have I not been doing this before?!.

This goes for most food actually. If you do a huge food shop on a Sunday – most of the food will go off by Wednesday. So what do we all do? Put some of it in the freezer so we can keep it longer. WHY DON’T WE JUST BUY IT ALL FROZEN AND SAVE SO MUCH TIME.

Sorry – rant over.

But this is the same with everything – like microwave meals. If you buy them ‘fresh’ they might have preservatives and additives to keep them okay for as long as possible. However, if you buy a frozen ready meal – they are frozen straight away and ‘paused’ until you want to heat it up. Therefore not pumped with all the bad stuff because it doesn’t need to be artificially kept alive. If you think about it – if you cooked yourself a chilli con carne – you wouldn’t just leave it in the fridge for 5-6 days before eating it – no you would freeze it to keep it from going off… EXACTLY.

Also – look – mac and cheese pizza – are you sold yet?

Cocoa Chelsea Iceland School of fish frozen food pasta Cocoa Chelsea Iceland School of fish frozen food pasta

The guys showing us round also recommended their chicken nuggets and chicken dippers etc – all 100% chicken – but also VERY good for hangovers apparently. They have everything you would want from frozen aisles such as ice cream – all the ice lollies, frozen pizza (and an exclusive frozen Pizza Express range), but then also frozen cheese toasties and MILLIES COOKIES.

So I was really pleasantly surprised with everything we found in store. Also frozen vegetables. No more buying a broccoli and then only using half of it before it goes off – YOU JUST KEEP IT SUPER FRESH IN THE FREEZER!!!

Ok. ok. Sorry. Excitement over.

Our second part of the day was even better than the first.

Cooking school time.

We headed down to Cactus Kitchen (which is where Saturday Kitchen Live is filmed) and we were in for such a huge treat. I am actually getting hungry looking at the food again.

Cocoa Chelsea Iceland School of Fish, Saturday Kitchen Live omelette challenge tv set Cocoa Chelsea Iceland School of Fish, Saturday Kitchen Live omelette challenge tv set Cocoa Chelsea Iceland School of Fish, Saturday Kitchen Live omelette challenge tv set

So yeah – we met Neil who would be showing us all the different ways to cook loads of different types of fish – all frozen fish from Iceland obviously. And all the ingredients he was using were also from Iceland.

So first up was a prawn risotto. And oh my god it was amazzzzzing.

That cheese and butter tho…. *insert love heart emoji*

 Chelsea Iceland School of fish cooking school neil nugent risotto prawns  Chelsea Iceland School of fish cooking school neil nugent risotto prawns

So that was first course. We were warned to take it slow as we would have so many courses. And what did I do? I ate the whole thing because it was stunning. No regrets.

 

Next up was Steamed Sea Bass fillets with soy, chilli and garlic. This was my favourite of the entire day. It was SO amazing. Defrost the fish the day before and it is SO fresh – the flavours are incredible and it is SO SO healthy as it is just steamed.

 Chelsea Iceland School of fish cooking school neil nugent sea bream

Oh by the way – you can find ALL the recipes and ingredients on their website (just click the fish recipes button to be transported)

 Chelsea Iceland School of fish cooking school neil nugent sea bream

Next course – Baked Cod en Papillote.

You just wrap it up in the parchment paper, pop it in the oven and hola – heaven on a plate.

 Chelsea Iceland School of fish cooking school neil nugent sea bass  Chelsea Iceland School of fish cooking school neil nugent vegetables  Chelsea Iceland School of fish cooking school neil nugent sea bass

Another dreamy course – Grilled Trout Fillet with toasted almond butter.

I really can’t explain how incredible the food was this day. Seriously.

 Chelsea Iceland School of fish cooking school neil nugent  Chelsea Iceland School of fish cooking school neil nugent almonds  Chelsea Iceland School of fish cooking school neil nugent sea bass almonds

Followed by a Poached Salmon served with warm potato salad. 

 Chelsea Iceland School of fish cooking school neil nugent salmon salad

Next up was the Deep Fried Lemonade Batter Cod Goujons.

THESE WERE SO SO SO SO GOOD. We tried two styles – the lemonade batter but also a panko breadcrumb. And the fish was just divinnnee.

 Chelsea Iceland School of fish cooking school neil nugent cod battered panic

 

Ohh actually maybe this recipe was my favourite – it was definitely close. Pan Griddled Tuna with Salsa Roca. 

 Chelsea Iceland School of fish cooking school neil nugent tuna  Chelsea Iceland School of fish cooking school neil nugent tomatoes  Chelsea Iceland School of fish cooking school neil nugent tuna sashimi Cocoa Chelsea Iceland School of fish 27

Next up was dessert. Divine lemony bliss.

Cocoa Chelsea Iceland School of fish 27 Cocoa Chelsea Iceland School of fish cooking school neil nugent

 

The main thing that this day made me want to do was start to cook again. Properly. I have to admit that when I cook fish – I fry it and that’s it. Usually for a stir fry. But this day has completely changed that for me. It is so true that the modern lifestyle makes us all very time poor. We don’t have hours in the evening to prepare a lovely dinner. We want quick, easy, fast meals.

However – this is why Iceland is so perfect – and the above meals are SO incredible. You buy all the food, pop everything in the freezer and then just defrost it they day you want to eat it. Each of these meals probably took about 15 mins max to cook. Maybe 30 mins with prep.

But oh my god – it would be like eating like a king every day. These recipes are so easy and takes just as much effort as making a stir fry – and so so so much better for you, and for your emotional food love affair.

I recommend it so highly – the quality of the fish is just mind blowing. Honestly.

I can’t thank the team enough for having us all to try out these incredible recipes. I am completely converted and I am so happy that I got the opportunity to change my opinion on Iceland and the #PowerofFrozen.

I must admit that I was so full after this day, I never thought I could eat again. That has obviously changed and I have already planned my week of fish. I will keep you posted on how cooking goes for me.

xx

This post was written in collaboration with Iceland – and oh my god I am so so happy I got to work with them on this post! 

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