Smoke by the Water - Beach fire cooking with Wemyss Malts new Family Collection whisky
Wemyss Malts took the opportunity to enjoy one of those rare sunny Scottish days to partner with Just Love Food Leith’s Claudia Escobar. Our local foraging and wild cook experts can create some mighty, beach fire cooked delicacies infused with our latest whisky releases.
Selecting our latest Family Collection releases; Blooming Gorse and Flaming Feast became the inspirational starting point for our beach-side cook so we tasked Claudia with making dishes that not only complement our whiskies but to actively use them as a stand out ingredient in each dish.
We met Claudia on an early summer morning with a stack of fresh seafood from Welsh’s Fishmongers alongside a pile various pots, pans and chopping boards to set off to our beach location. Yellowcraigs in East Lothian is a long, bleach blonde beach, overlooking the island of Fidra with its squat lighthouse and dramatic rock arch. Fidra is reputedly the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island and makes a dramatic location for our cook.
After scouting the beach for the ideal area sheltered among the sand and rocks, we carefully built our fire by digging a shallow ditch and filling it with natural kindling of dry grass, twigs and constructing a stack of larger branches and logs over the top of the pile.
Claudia assistant Cliff, carefully lit the fire and then not so carefully fueled it with a glug of Flaming Feast whisky to set the scene and scents. Our beach fire was soon ablaze and Claudia prepped the whisky infused dishes.
Scottish King Scallop Ceviche
Hand dived King Scallop
Dried Dulse seaweed
Maldon sea salt
Raspberry white balsamic.
Raspberry white balsamic caviar.
Blooming Gorse Scotch malt whisky
Finely slice the scallop meat and row, then season with Maldon salt and black pepper.
Add a splash of Blooming Gorse Scotch malt whisky, raspberry balsamic, raspberry caviar before dusting with dried Dulse seaweed.
The mixture is then kept chilled in a icebox for about 30 minutes and then served on top of a scallop shell as the perfect appetiser before the cooking proper began. The sweeter, floral whisky complemented the raspberry balsamic to bring out a subtle and mouth-watering flavour to the cured scallops.
Scottish King Scallops cooked on embers
Hand dived King Scallop
Olive oil caviar
Maldon sea salt.
Flaming Feast Scotch malt whisky
The scallops were first prepared with sea salt and black pepper and coated in olive oil before being place on top of a scallop shell and covered in finely sliced shallots. Once the flames of the fire had dropped in height and a steady temperature was now emanating form the fire, the scallop shells were placed on the embers. They were left until the juices started to boil and then a splash of Flaming Feast Scotch malt whisky was used to flambé the dish.
Cooked until the meat turned opaque and the roe inflated, the scallops were then flipped in the shell and left to cook for another 50 second. A squeeze of lime finished off this citric, sweet and smoky delight.
Cod Cheek cooked on embers
Two cod cheeks
Flaming Feast Scotch malt whisky
Sea salt maldon
Considered by those in the know as a real delicacy, cod cheeks are one of the most succulent parts of the fish. The cheeks were seasoned with Maldon sea salt and a generous splash of Flaming Feast Scotch malt whisky, black pepper and some samphire.
After marinating for 30 minutes they too were placed in scallop shells and then laid on top of the now sizzle on the charred embers. Once the fish started to turn opaque white they were turned and an extra splash of malt whisky was added to flambé until the meat was fully opaque.
They were then served with a squeeze of lemon. This often overlooked cut off cut of cod was surprisingly flavourful and moreish.
Other dishes included a pot of local Scottish mussels cooked in a pot bubbling with half a bottle of Flaming Feast Scotch malt whisky. Whilst rather boozy they were surprisingly sweet and mellow once they had finished simmering on the open fire. Meanwhile fresh, whole Mackerel were wrapped in seaweed from the beach and cooked on the heated fire side rocks. A set of Loch Fyne Oysters were also open fire grilled and keenly devoured once a splash of whisky was added. The brave among us also tried Cod Milt (also known as the seminal fluid of fish). Cooked once again on a scallop shell with Blooming Gorse Scotch malt whisky. It was intense, salty and smoky. A interesting experience to say the least.
After a few sunny hours, as per most Scottish summer days, the sun disappeared behind the fast moving clouds and the rain droplets began to sizzle on our fire. With the turn in the weather and our bellies full, we called it a day, wet out our fire, put the corks back on what remained of the whisky bottles and headed back to Wemyss Malts HQ in Edinburgh.
Things to consider before starting your beach cook
Firstly check that you're actually allowed to light fires on the beach, ask the local keeper or council.
Set your fire on stone and sand, never on grass as this could lead to the spread of the fire.
Place stones around the fire to prevent the fire from spreading. If it is a particularly windy day (or a standard day in Scotland) tall stones can work as a wind breaker to shelter and keep your fire lit.
Be aware of tide and wind direction. You don’t want to go to all the hard work of building and setting your fire only for it to be drowned by the incoming sea. Also don’t build your fire anywhere that might irritate other people enjoying the beach.
Bring a bucket or large bottle to put out the fire with seawater. Never leave a fire to continue to burn unattended.
Keep your raw meat/fish apart from precooked or ready to eat ingredients. Also use separate chopping boards, knives and equipment for raw and ready to eat foods. Consider using different colour knives and boards to help differentiate.
Several ingredients were wild foraged whilst the rest were supplied from Welch’s Fishmongers, Mara Seaweed and Orodeal.