Seasonal Winter Seafood In Scotland

Written by: Vivien Devlin

Scottish Seafood

During January and February Scotland’s larder has a wonderful supply of wild salmon, halibut, sea bass, lobster, langoustine, scallops, cockles, sardines, mussels and oysters.

Scottish Oysters are becoming particularly popular during the Festive season. Traditionally known for their reputation as an aphrodisiac, they are one of the finest foods and extremely healthy. Four medium sized oysters supply the recommended daily allowance of iron, copper, zinc, magnesium and calcium.

Scottish oysters are always in season as the waters around West Coast of Scotland never rise above 18 degrees Celsius ensuring constant fresh growing conditions all year round.  Following on from the high demand over the festive season, Scottish oyster farmers are predicting high Valentine’s Day sales with around 140,000 oysters being purchased during Valentine’s week, due to the oyster’s romantic association.

Louis XIV was said to breakfast on oysters every day and Napoleon liked to down a dozen before going into battle.

Today, the French trade at this time of year is phenomenal, especially around the festive season, as oyster stalls go up across towns and cities; 25 tonnes  are sold during the season.

Scotland ’s natural larder of meat, game, fish and seafood is internationally acclaimed as  among the best in the world. Over 5,000 fishermen and 2,000 fishing boats work the Scottish coastline and islands. 

Seafood Platter

Nearly 200 shellfish farming companies are based in Scotland. Scotland lands one third of the langoustines and the lucrative European lobster market is sourced from the South East, Hebrides, Orkney and South Minch.  Today Scotland is recognised as leading the way through its responsible, sustainable fishing methods. 

Smoked Lobster Blini

Scottish rope-grown Mussels are at prime quality at this time of year and sales have soared in recent years. Scottish rope-grown mussels are collected naturally and then grown on lines suspended in open water and no additives, medicines or feed are used.

The whole process is described as ‘more than organic’ in that the shellfish farmer is totally dependent upon nature and merely gives a helping hand as the mussels feed naturally on the plankton in the sea. The harvested rope grown mussels are sweet, rich and succulent and completely free of grit. Earlier this year, rope-grown mussels became the first farmed seafood in the UK to achieve the prestigious Friend of the Sea certification of quality.

Jean-Christophe Novelli said: “ I was particularly impressed by the quality of the mussels grown in the clean waters around Shetland. These mussels are in my opinion the best in the world.”

Shetland fish and shellfish are served fresh, smoked or, inspired by the islands’ Norse background, pickled - Gravadlax is a local speciality.

Shetland mussels received the ultimate accolade by celebrity French chef Jean-Christophe Novelli during a visit to the islands to attend Shetland’s Food Festival visiting the shellfish farm Blueshell Mussels for a boat trip to see at first hand the mussels being harvested from their growing ropes, followed by a tasting session back ashore.

‘Good Food’ tourism is a fast growing business where 70% of visitors to Scotland say they are keen to taste traditional dishes, regional specialities and fresh local produce.   With Luxury Scotland’s excellent city and country house hotels, Michelin and Award winning restaurants, it’s easy to plan a gastronomic journey. 

Seafood Fishing Boats

By the Harbour

Landing at Crinan


Enjoy Seafood in The Road Hole

Over on the East Coast in St. Andrews,  the Old Course Hotel has two prestigious restaurants, The Road Hole for fine dining while overlooking the 17th Hole of the famous golf course, and Sands Grill for a superb surf and turf menu.

The provenance of fresh, seasonal seafood is paramount with a highlight being a platter of shellfish sourced from the seas around Eyemouth, Kyle of Tongue and Orkney: dressed crab, lobster, langoustine, mussels, clams, oysters and prawns. 

An exemplary celebration of Scottish seasonal shellfish. The Old Course Hotel has recently been voted as best in Scotland, best in Britain and the fifth best in Europe in the Conde Nast Traveller Reader’s Choice Awards described as "perfection" by readers who rated the resort's location, rooms, restaurants and service.


Mull Crab Crates

Fresh Scottish seafood of the highest quality is now easily accessible in restaurants, fishmongers and leading food stores.  Eat out for a sophisticated meal at one of our renowned Luxury Scotland hotels across the country, or cook the simplest of fish dishes at home.

If you do not have a fishmonger nearby for fresh seafood, the beauty is you can arrange a delivery by post from the best fish markets and producers in the country. 

Here is a selection:


...en route to Crinan Hotel

One of the leading seafood producers which has its own famous Oyster bar, smokehouse, oyster and mussel farm and shop at Cairndow, Loch Fyne, Argyll. Loch Fyne Oysters are grown naturally on the shore at Ardkinglas at the head of Loch Fyne and on the islands of Colonsay and Islay. Loch Fyne mussels are reared on ropes at Ardkinglas with prime season October to May.

These native oysters are used to cold waters, feed all summer and are nice and plump by December and January, the ideal time to eat them.  Partner growers in Argyll and the Islands supply oysters through the summer.  Langoustines are landed by fisherman Ralph Newell with his creels on Loch Fyne, lobster is from Orkney, queen scallops are grown in lantern nets in Loch Tarbert, King Scallops from dive boats along the Mull of Kintyre. Halibut is farmed near Oban, Organic cod and sea trout from the Shetlands.

Loch Fyne Oysters’ on-line shop can home-deliver one, two or four dozen Rock Oysters packed in a cane pannier.  The oysters are cultivated in natural seawater combined with fresh burn water from the hills to give a clean, refreshing taste.  You can also order fresh scallops, mussels, langoustine and smoked fish including Citrus and black pepper and whisky marinated smoked salmon, and perfect for gift boxes. Loch Fyne mails out 10,000 home deliveries every year in the UK and supplies seafood for  BA First Class and Business Class,  leading hotels and retailers including House of Bruar  and restaurants. Loch Fyne Oysters has a thriving international trade across Europe, Asia and Far East winning the Queens Award for export.


...nearest hotels are Inver Lodge [open 1st April until 1st November] and Pool House.

Loch Duart company is based at Scourie, Sutherland, a centre of Scottish salmon production for hundreds of years where salmon rearing is the prime occupation, the skills handed down from generation to generation. This consistently superior fish in taste, quality and colour won Gold Award for Best Food in the Daily Telegraph 'Taste of Britain Awards'. 

Loch Duart farmed salmon is listed proudly by name on the menu at Gleneagles Resort. One of the ultimate tests of salmon quality is how it tastes raw for sushi. Loch Duart salmon is served by name in leading sushi restaurants in the UK, Europe and the USA.


...nearest hotels are Inver Lodge [open 1st April until 1st November] and Pool House.

All salmon is hand reared by Loch Duart to produce traditional quality smoked salmon and trout, cold and hot smoked and smoked haddock. The fish is hand cured in a sweet brine of brown sugar, dark rum and Dead Sea salt, hung in a stone kiln and gently smoked using a mixture of oak whisky barrel chips, larch and ash. No electric kilns are used, just pure aromatic woodsmoke.  Shortlisted for the Scotland Food and Drink, Fish and Seafood Award 2010.


...access to South Uist is by ferry from Mallaig - nearest hotel is Inverlochy Castle Hotel

Smoked salmon is handcrafted at the Salar Smokehouse on the island of South Uist, Outer Hebrides to a unique, exclusive family recipe. Use it in salads, sandwiches, soups, pastas, risotto and kedgeree for its distinctive taste, dark glaze and texture. Loch Duart fresh salmon fillets are salted and then roasted in oak to create their award-winning flaky Smoked Salmon which is named as one of Rick Stein's Food Heroes. Widely available in quality stores, delis and House of Bruar. Mail orders welcome.


...access to Skye is by the bridge, nearest hotels are Inverlochy Castle Hotel and Pool House.

Small family run business at Carbost, producing high quality Pacific oysters (Crassostrea Gigas) grown in the clear waters of Loch Harport on the west coast of Skye.

Fresh Oysters are ideal for dinner parties and celebrations. Serve raw in the half shell with Tabasco and lemon, or try the oyster recipe below.   


...nearby hotels are Inver Lodge [open 1st April until 1st November], Pool House, Inverlochy Castle Hotel, Crinan Hotel.

Specializes in harvesting wild scallops on the west coast from Cape Wrath to Mull of Kintyre.  The Donna Marie based in Ullapool is a newly converted, self-sufficient fishing boat with good accommodation for the crew, for scallop diving off the Scottish West Coast. Diving is the most ecological way to select individual scallops in the finest condition, leaving other marine life untouched. Their hand picked mature scallops fresh from the seabed can be delivered anywhere in the UK within 12 hours.


...access to Mull is by the ferry from Oban, nearest hotel is Crinan Hotel

Family run business supplying fresh crab meat, caught daily aboard the creel boat, Elean Ban. - Isle of Mull crab bisque, coriander, crab and red pepper risotto.


...nearby hotels are Inver Lodge [open 1st April until 1st November], Pool House, Inverlochy Castle Hotel, Crinan Hotel, Knockinaam Lodge in the south.

This North Uist company runs the Hebridean Catch on-line fishmonger.  Three scallop boats as well as shellfish from boats operating around the Western Isles, Isle of Skye and Scottish mainland supply the freshest King scallops, lobsters, langoustine and crabs.

Lobster is caught on the Atlantic seaboard off the Hebrides and travels live to any destination, also cooked lobster posted for next day delivery, and mixed seafood hampers.


...access to North Uist is by ferry from Skye; nearest hotels are Inverlochy Castle Hotel and Pool House

Famous for oak and peat smoked salmon, scallops, trout and lobster tails.  The fish used for smoking is from local wild stocks, farmed off the rocky east coast of the island.

For premium quality Scottish smoked salmon you need exceptional fish to start with - the North Uist stock is described by Prue Leith as “the best in the world”. Perfect scallops are harvested from the clear waters of the Hebrides, gently smoked and cooked over locally cut peat.  

Smoked lobster has a rare, almost exotic taste for a special meal.  Lobsters from the Outer Hebrides are justifiably famous for their quality and sweet flavour.  A speciality of the Smokehouse is luxury Peat Smoked Lobster.  Each tail is carefully smoked before kiln roasting for an aromatic, rich taste – use for extravagant canapés on buckwheat blini and a little sour cream,  add smoked lobster to a risotto or in a smoked fish selection – a unique product with genuine X factor.


...40 minutes north of Crinan Hotel and one hour south of Inverlochy Castle Hotel

William and Karen MacDonald are well known in the local area for supplying quality fresh local seafood, scallops, razor clams, oysters, home-smoked salmon and trout as well as fresh white fish. 

Oban harbour shop, on the pier where the boats land their catches. Mail order service.


...nearest hotel is Crinan Hotel

Scottish Atlantic halibut is grown over three years using a pioneering artisan land-farming system using the clean waters from the Sound of Gigha, a natural, protected environment to organic standards.

They also produce smoked halibut. For their sustainable alternative to endangered wild fish, Gigha halibut was awarded Food Champion of the Year at the Made in Britain Awards 2009, and now supplies Waitrose supermarkets.


...based in Buckie, north of The Marcliffe Hotel and Spa but near Boath House and Rocpool Reserve.

Supplies Pride of Scotland salmon to the Burj Al Arab 6 star hotel, Dubai amongst other important export markets.

Guild of Fine Foods Great Tastes Awards 2010 – Gold star for Wild Atlantic Smoked Salmon, Wild Atlantic Gravadlax and Wild Atlantic Scottish Salmon. 


...based in Montrose, near The Marcliffe Hotel and Spa, not far from The Gleneagles Hotel and Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa.

One of the largest wild salmon producers with netting stations along the Angus coast from Montrose to Arbroath, harvesting wild salmon and trout from the Tay, Dee and Don. 

Usan is exhibiting at the Seafood Exposition, Brussels in 2011, the world’s largest seafood fair.  


Fresh Scottish Mussels with a Drambuie and Crème Fraiche Sauce

(A Scottish twist of the classic Moules Mariniere).




1 bag of Live Scottish Mussels
2 tbsp olive oil
2 Shallots, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
175ml Fish Stock
40ml Drambuie
400ml Crème Fraiche



Clean and de-beard the mussels discarding any that don’t close when tapped and that are cracked. Place aside.

In a pan (with a lid), sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil till soft but not coloured. Add the fish stock and Drambuie, allow to bubble for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the crème fraiche and heat through, season to taste.

Add the mussels to the crème fraiche mixture and place a lid on the pan. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes until the mussels open. Discard any unopened mussels.

To soak up the flavours serve with Crusty bread.

Little Pigs in Blankets




24  Oysters, off the shell
24 very thin short slices bacon
Salt and Pepper



Season the oysters with salt and pepper. Wrap one oyster in each slice of bacon and fasten with a tooth pick.

Heat a saucepan and put in the little pigs; cook just long enough to crisp the bacon, about five minutes.

Cut slices of toast into quarters and place on pig in its blanket on each small slice of toast. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley.

Seared Scottish Scallops with garlic, ginger and coriander





Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan to almost smoking point and add in the Loch Fyne King Scallops, add in the ginger, garlic and chillies, and toss once.

Sprinkle in the ground spices cumin, coriander & turmeric toss again, add the lime juice and chopped fresh coriander - this should all be done in 2-3 minutes so the scallops are plump and juicy.

To serve, arrange 6 per person in a neat line and garnish with crisp salad.


24 King scallops
30 ml Rapeseed oil
15 gms  Fresh root ginger finely chopped
6 Garlic cloves finely chopped
2 Red chillies, deseeded & chopped
½ tsp  Ground cumin
½ tsp  Ground coriander
½ tsp  Ground turmeric
1 tsp Lime juice
2 tsp Chopped fresh coriander
Malden sea salt


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