Fin & Flounder - As Told By Smitty's
‘The people round here are amazing, there’s a great atmosphere. When I came to work in the shop it was my first time in Hackney. I’m originally from South London so when I moved I was taken aback. It’s changed my life actually, working here. I love it, I wouldn’t change it for the world.’
Danny mentions Hackney a lot. It’s clear the place means as much to him as working for the Broadway Market fishmongers Fin and Flounder. He works in the one of the streets most loved institutions with its owner Brendan, as well as running a weekly stall on Broadway Market.
‘It’s probably one of the nicest places in London, and you’ve got everything. You got your fish, your meat, your restaurants, jazz bar, local pub, everything on this street. There’s no need to leave. I live in Hoxton, and it’s a nice brisk walk down the canal in the morning.’
Danny is preparing fish as we chat. He pulls them from large white boxes and skilfully scales and fillets them. Locals and people from further afield know Fin and Flounder, and travel here for the freshest fish and the best service. As Danny says, ‘we’re flat out on Saturdays’, and it’s no surprise why.
Fin and Flounder provides the highest quality product with authentic, old-fashioned service. Danny speaks fondly of LS Mash and Sons, the iconic fishmonger in Brixton which was forced to close down in 2016, as well as the market trader heritage of his family.
‘I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I started out as a Saturday boy. My dad worked on a fruit and veg stall and so did my mum, but on separate stalls. So I fell into the market, then started working for LS Mash and Sons in Brixton. It’s not there now, unfortunately. It’s quite emotional. That’s where I was made. I learnt a lot on the way, you’re always learning something new.’
Don’t be under any illusions though, Fin and Flounder are looking to the future. ‘We’ve got a new product range coming, F+F Ready. So when you’re up against it at work, you come in, we’ve got everything already made up in a pouch to steam at home. The fish is in there, the seasoning’s in there. In the oven for 10 minutes and it’s ready. No mess, no washing up.’
‘We do Call and Collect as well, so you can ring in the daytime and collect it anytime until 9 in the evening. I’m not here till 9 o’clock though!’, Danny laughs.
Danny gave me his favourite recipe before I left. Head to Fin and Flounder to get the ingredients for your own Fish Lasagne:
500g baby spinach
2 large sweet peppers, roughly chopped
6 large fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
A handful of olives, halved
4 sun-dried tomatoes, halved
200g cubed pancetta
Fish of your choosing- Danny recommends firm white fish, scallops, hake, tiger prawns, salmon, and bouchon mussels.
Start with the sauce. Fry the pancetta in a large pan until crisp. Add the peppers and sun-dried tomatoes and fry for a few minutes, then add the olives and fresh tomatoes. Cook the sauce down until the tomatoes start to disintegrate, then add the spinach at the last minute so it wilts.
Now build the lasagne. Start with a spoon of sauce in the bottom of a baking dish, then dot around the scallops and small pieces of white fish like hake. Reserve some of the bouchon and tiger prawns for the very top.
Then add a layer of pasta sheets. Repeat the process. For the middle layer, cut long strips of salmon and lay them into the sauce.
Once you reach the top of the lasagne dish, finish the final pasta layer with more sauce and the prawns and bouchon.
Place in a preheated oven at 180° for 40 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked through. Check the lasagne 15 minutes into cooking- if the top is browning too quickly cover the dish with foil.