With a 150 year old pedigree, this business has become a local treasure for quality seafood. Headed up by Adrian, the team here really do have a passion for their trade and this is evident not only in the quality of their produce but in their whole approach.
The fantastic displays are hard to miss, and you only have to ask to have your fish prepared as you like. Coakley-Greene supplies many local restaurants with their freshest fish.
Food Passion Insight - Oh to be beside the sea...
Food Passion takes a look behind the scenes of on of Swansea's iconic food supplier's
Swansea folk are lucky to live by the sea. Well I think so anyway, and I am constantly reminded why on my almost daily drive along the bay front. Though my car frequently receives an unwanted sandblasting, I find it hard to believe that there can be many other cities in the world that have such an extensive and picturesque stretch of seafront promenade.
Certainly this panoramic 5 mile path with its pool and plants impresses most visitors to the area as well, but perhaps fewer get to experience another aspect of our maritime heritage. Though the days of huge landings of fish at the old docks are long gone, we are still blessed with a great choice of fishmongers, many of whom are to be found in the Swansea covered market. Each of these displays their own unique products as well as some of the more well known fish and shellfish.
One such fishmonger, occupying a corner plot on the main thoroughfare, is Coakley-Green. With a 150 year old pedigree, this business has become a local by-word for quality seafood and also does pretty well for a nationwide reputation. Opened in 1856, the original business was situated at No.1 Goat St., near the current location of the former David Evans’s building, but like much of the city centre was destroyed in the Blitz.
I met Adrian, who now heads the stand and the staff that work there. Stopping by on a Thursday afternoon, I find a very busy trade going on. Adrian is busy at his makeshift desk (plank of wood, telephone, order books) while his team that day James, Lee and Tanya fight for space between weighing scales, customers and the cutting block. It becomes immediately apparent that there is a very loyal trade going on here, and that they have acquired a lot of friends during their years in business. Watching this fantastic market stall banter was almost as interesting as the glistening fresh fish on display.
In between the frantic bustle, I take a good look at what is on offer. I have to say the choice is very tempting. On a recent trip to Australia, my wife and I visited the Sydney fish market, apparently one of the top three in the world. OK, so it was on another scale altogether but the quality on display at the Coakley-Green stand certainly compares and in true Swansea fashion is on an altogether more personable level. Here, speckled squid are pushed aside by whole Scottish salmon, and bold-striped Mackerel glare angrily at the Herrings with their intense red faces, mouths agape. It is a superb display. My favourite were the rainbow trout, who looked as if they had just been pulled out of the river.
It’s a long day at the Coakley-Green stand, which starts at 6:15 am, and doesn’t finish until 5:30, sometimes even later. This is the dedication that is required in order to ensure only the best fish are ready for the day. Adrian tells me that he only sources his fish from a day boat fleet to ensure freshness. The alternative is trawlers, who sweep the ocean, catching any fish in the way. The fish are easily bruised as they are crushed against any other marine life, then they are frozen at sea. Once offloaded, there is only a very short time before they deteriorate, so they are not at their freshest when you buy them.
Adrian points out the gleaming eyes, the red gills and something that I was not aware of. Apparently mucus, slime, or more palatably perhaps, the ‘sheen’ on the fish, is another indicator. But if you look closely, it is definitely mucus, and definitely looks fresh. Never mind, I have to have some anyway, so I order some fine filleted Hake, and much to my wife’s delight, cook it up for dinner that night.
I can safely say that the area’s maritime heritage is alive and well, and I would recommend anyone, local or visitor, to try some of the fantastic fish and shellfish that is available here.
Tony Kluge, editor.
Stall 41C, Swansea Market,
Swansea City Centre
T: 01792 653416