Emily Scott has “been doing what I’m doing for quite a long time” but says she’s finally piecing together the last crucial pieces of the jigsaw.
Those puzzle pieces include the confidence to put her name to her new restaurant in Cornwall’s Watergate Bay, Emily Scott Food, and having just served her food to G7 summit leaders, she is celebrating the release of her debut cookbook, Sea & Shore.
The book she says has been “in my head for a long time”. And now the simple, pared back, seasonal recipes are on paper, for us all to read, try and salivate over…
What was it like holding the book for the first time?
It was a very weird feeling.
My children were like, ‘What’s she doing? You’ve been waiting for this.’ And now I have become friends with it, it’s all OK. It’s very personal, as it’s my life, cooking over the years. But what I love about it is it’s got Cornwall at its heart.
What’s so special about Cornwall for you?
I’ve been here 20 years, and it’s almost like when you cross the River Tamar you come into another land.
Even though it’s part of England, it feels quite magical. I spent holidays down here as a child so it’s always been a place I’ve known. Being by the sea has been incredible, the connection between the land and the sea, I absolutely love. There’s a real sense of place.
Do you feel welcomed by the Cornish?
You’re never really Cornish, you’re always an incomer.
But, like anywhere, there’s the good, the bad and the ugly. But generally speaking, my children, they were born and have grown up here and I do feel at home and very welcome.
The Cornish food scene seems to be thriving?
It’s funny. When I first arrived here in 1999, I had a tea shop and you opened for Easter, closed in October and didn’t reopen until April.
There was a long Cornish winter. It was always somewhere that felt like it was hours to get to – it was one of those places that felt very far away. And the food has always been cream teas, fudge, sticks of rock, pasties, that kind of thing.
But over the years, it’s just become this amazing food scene. It’s evolved so much, and so many people are just doing amazing things, from my supplier of vegetables at Padstow Kitchen Garden to the fishermen landing the lobsters and crabs, and people growing saffron and honey.
Between the G7 Summit and Covid, are you prepared for Cornwall being the ultimate “staycation” destination?
It was busy anyway, and now it’s busier than ever with that kind of bucket and spade holiday. But what’s so lovely is that there are so many amazing restaurants, pubs, bars – so many people doing great things.
Coming from London or a city, you can get what you can get at home, which I think people quite like – everyone’s a creatures of habit slightly, aren’t they?
And you can get all that now, it’s not like back in the day when you couldn’t even get a proper coffee.
What do you hope that people will take from Sea & Shore?
For me, it’s all about inspiring people to get cooking.
This day and age is quite fast-paced, and everyone wants everything immediately. I want to encourage people to rush slowly and to think about their butcher, their baker, going to the greengrocer again, really making those choices.
But also, I want people to cook my food and to love the processes of doing that. Whether it’s hulling a strawberry, picking a broad bean or just whisking egg whites for a pavlova, those are things that bring you together as a family.
Seasonality seems to be a theme?
I think the universe has a way of showing us when things are at their best. My menu will have strawberries it in June, but there won’t be any in December. So clicking within the ebb and the flow of the world.
And fish suppers?
My restaurant is predominantly fish, so I’m a great fan of fish cookery. People can be frightened of cooking fish, but it’s one of the quickest and simplest things to do, if you talk to a fishmonger. That’s a really good idea as they can fillet it for you.
Any recipes particularly meaningful for you?
You have to be a fan of creme fresh and fennel! And my grandmother’s chicken soup, which is very comforting. We always had that when we were poorly or needed nourishment.
What’s the best thing to eat after a day at the beach?
We cook a lot over fire and actually monkfish (see recipe below) over fire or scallops or mussels, are quick and simple.
There’s nothing more lovely than cooking over fire as the sun sets.
So if I was at the beach, I’d probably plan to stay and eat outdoors and have marshmallows over the fire.
Monkfish, Cornish chorizo and sun blush tomatoes on rosemary skewers
“Monkfish, or lotte in French, is known as the poor man’s lobster. It is a delicious, robust and wonderful ingredient that I love to cook and eat,” says Emily Scott.
“It works so well with bolder flavours, such as curries, or can be cooked over fire or even refined by serving as a ceviche. Here, the combination of monkfish, chorizo and sun blush tomatoes is delicious. Threading them on to rosemary skewers is pretty and adds a depth of flavour to the fish.”
- 200g (7oz) jar sun blush tomatoes, drained, reserving the oil
- 1 medium chorizo, about 225g (8oz), cut into 1cm (½in) rounds
- 650g (1lb 7oz) monkfish fillet, cut into chunks
- 12 long rosemary sprigs, plus extra leaves for sprinkling
- 100ml (3½fl oz/scant ½ cup) olive oil
- Cornish sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Handful of rocket leaves
- Hot buttered Cornish new potatoes
- Mixed leaf salad with edible flowers
- Preheat barbecue or grill to high.
- Place the sun blush tomatoes in large bowl and add the sliced chorizo. Using a skewer, pierce a hole through each piece of monkish, then toss in the bowl with the tomatoes and chorizo. Thread alternately on to rosemary skewers, allowing three pieces of each ingredient on each skewer.
- Barbecue or grill the skewers on all sides, keeping them moving, for a total of six minutes, or until browned at the edges. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and rosemary leaves.
- Lay the grilled monkfish skewers on rocket leaves and serve with hot buttered Cornish new potatoes and a kitchen leaf salad with summer flowers.
Sea & Shore: Recipes And Stories From A Kitchen In Cornwall by Emily Scott, photography by Kim Lightbody, is published by Hardie Grant, priced £26, out now
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