Gary Maclean shares recipes ahead of the St James Quarter Seafood Festival

Pick up some fishy tips at the event

Published 25th Mar 2023
Updated 8 th Aug 2023

“I’m cooking on the Seafood Stage at the Edinburgh Seafood Festival on level one of St James Quarter on Saturday 1 April at 11am. I’ll be doing some Scottish seafood, hopefully two or three dishes. The whole idea is just to make it accessible as I think some are a bit wary of fish in case they over or under cook it.

Come along and pick up some tips on the best ways to choose, buy and cook some seafood.

I don’t know what the menu will be yet, it’s really dependent on my supplier. I usually ask them what’s really good right now. I’d hope for some mackerel, as it should be in season. Scallops are always a good demo item, as are brown crab, razor clams and lobster. It’ll be a try-it sort of class, so people will get a taster. There’s nothing worse than going to one of those seafood festivals and they can’t sample anything, as that’s 50 per cent of the experience.

I love doing the demonstrations. They’re informative, but light-hearted, as I like having a bit of fun and banter with the audience. I try not to tell jokes but I tell wee stories, whether it’s of some culinary disasters or how other countries see us. I respond to the crowd and, if all else fails, just talk about MasterChef. They like to hear about the goings-on behind the scenes.

I’ll be bringing along some copies of Scottish Kitchen to do a signing, and I might just bring some of my earlier book, Kitchen Essentials, too”.

Gary Maclean’s Scottish Kitchen by Gary Maclean (Black & White Publishing, £26) Photography by Susie Lowe.

Maclean will also be meeting and serving guests at Creel Caught, Bonnie & Wild, from 1-2pm on April 1. 

The St James Quarter Seafood Festival runs from Friday March 31 until Sunday April 2. Discover the full schedule of events at

There will also be a Seafood Market, sushi lessons from Maki & Ramen, demonstrations fromchef, Brian Grigor, appearances from The Oysterman, live entertainment and more.

Herring in oatmeal

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Makes 4 portions


4 herrings, filleted and pin bones removed

60g flour

1 egg

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Splash milk

100g medium oatmeal

4 tablespoons good oil

25g butter

1 lemon

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Salt and pepper

1. To coat the fish with breadcrumbs, you will need what’s called a pane system. This consists of a tray with seasoned flour, one with an egg and a little milk, and a third tray with the oatmeal.

2. Drop your fillets into the flour first, then the egg and milk mix, and lastly the oatmeal.

3. You are now ready to cook your fish. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the fish over a moderate heat for 4 minutes each side.

4. Then reduce the temperature and add your butter. Baste the fish in the butter until golden.

5. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and then serve.

Seared escalope of salmon with a potato and spring onion salad, capers and brown butter 

Makes 4 portions


300g new potatoes

4 spring onions, finely shredded

Bunch dill, chopped

½ cucumber, finely diced

100ml crème fraîche

4x 125g salmon escalopes

40g butter

1 lemon

40g capers

25ml good oil

Salt and pepper


1. Pop the potatoes in a pan, cover with water, add a pinch of salt and place onto the boil. Once boiling, turn down and simmer until tender. Be careful not to overcook. Drain and allow to cool naturally in the colander.

2. Slice the potatoes and place in a bowl. Add the shredded spring onions, dill and cucumber.

3. Bind this together with the crème fraîche.

4. In a pre-heated non-stick frying pan, add a teaspoon of oil, then add the salmon and colour well on both sides – approx. 2 to 3 minutes for each side. Finish with a knob of butter and baste. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Remove the fillets from the pan and cook the butter until its starts to brown. Remove from the heat, squeeze in half a lemon and add the capers.

6. Place your potato salad onto the plate, add the salmon escalope, drizzle with the rest of the oil and serve with a wedge of lemon.

Scallop and black pudding with potato and green apple

Makes 4 portions


4 king scallops in the shell, shucked

400g potatoes, diced (good frying potatoes work best)

400g black pudding, diced

3 cloves garlic, crushed

25g butter

Small bunch flat-leaf parsley, shredded

½ lemon

1 green apple, cut into matchsticks

Good oil


1. Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F).

2. Next, place the diced potato into your frying pan. Fry until golden and crisp. You want to make sure that the potatoes have started to go soft, then add the black pudding.

3. Cook until the pudding starts to crisp up, then add the crushed garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.

4. Pop all of this onto a tray and place in the oven until the potatoes are cooked.

5. Meanwhile, give your pan a clean, pop it back on the stove and, once hot, add a little oil.

6. Next, place each scallop into the pan. Try not to shake or shoogle the pan – you want to create lots of colour on the scallop before turning it.

7. Once you have coloured both sides of the scallop, reduce the heat and add your butter and a squeeze of lemon juice.

8. Baste the scallop in the butter and lemon. Once cooked, remove from the pan.

9. Now take the potatoes and the black pudding out of the oven, mix in the shredded parsley and double-check the seasoning.

10. Fill each of the cleaned shells with the potato and black pudding mixture. Top each one with a scallop and finish with your apple matchsticks.

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
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