Belfast Telegraph

Don't eat fish that fell off the back of lorry in Belfast, warn health chiefs

By Nevin Farrell

Health chiefs have warned people not to eat fish lifted off a road after a lorry shed its load of mackerel.

Photographs showed people putting the mackerel into plastic bags to bring home to eat after hundreds were spilled amid bizarre scenes on Belfast's Ravenhill Road on Saturday night.

Health chiefs, however, have advised against eating the fish.

A Belfast City Council spokeswoman said: "We would strongly advise against the consumption of food where you are not clear as to its source or if it is safe to eat.

"In any event, there is a possibility of the fish being contaminated through direct contact with the road, rendering it unfit for human consumption."

The Council spokeswoman said its street cleaners helped remove up to 600 mackerel from the Ravenhill Road close to the junction with My Lady's Road.

"Responding to a call on our environmental health line, and to ensure traffic was able to flow freely, City Council cleansing services helped remove up to 600 mackerel," said the spokeswoman.

Resident Tommy Bardsley said he bagged 25 mackerel.

"It's all fresh fish, I'll have some for dinner and freeze the rest," he said. "I know fish and can tell they were just off the boat."

At a chip shop close to the scene of Saturday night's fish spill, staff said yesterday afternoon that their trade was not down.

Shelley West from the Chip N Fish was asked if there had been any adverse effect on business, but she replied: "No, not at all".

It is understood that local people teamed up to help clean the area ahead of official road cleaners being drafted in.

One said: "Some people are embarrassed that people who live here were seen lifting the fish off the road to bring it home, but most just stood at the side of the road.

"Local people came out with brushes and stuff to help in a big clean up and it was a real community effort."

Police said the driver of the fish lorry did not stop and may not have been aware what happened.

They said they had the details of the lorry and were making follow up enquiries with the company concerned.

It was unclear which firm was involved in the incident but speculation was pointing towards the lorry having a connection to Ardglass.

Firms in the area either told the Belfast Telegraph they did not know about the incident or did not comment.

But if you are in the mood for mackerel, (strictly from a reputable source), here's the best way to cook it

What you'll need:

Two fresh mackerel

Butter for frying

Oats for coating

2 Eggs

Salt and pepper

Lemon juice,

Parsley

Serves 4

There are very few traditional Ulster fish recipes, but coating mackerel in oatmeal and frying them in a skillet until crisp and golden is the best of the bunch.

This is good, solid country food, designed to set you up for a long day in the fields - coming with a depth of flavour only found in fresh fish from our waters.

This is a staple dish of folk living in fishing villages or near the coast, and the traditional accompaniment to mackerel in oatmeal is a big glass of buttermilk.

METHOD

Scale and gut the fish and remove the heads and tails.

Flatten them out and fillet them to give four portions.

Beat the eggs and add salt and pepper to taste.

Coat the fillets with the beaten egg and then dip them into the oats to cover the outside.

The oats will stick to the fish to form a delicious, crunchy coating.

Fry the fish gently in butter until the oats are a light golden colour (4-6 minutes).

Serve immediately with plenty of lemon juice.

Fishy twist to a famous tale

It felt like a fishy Belfast version of Whisky Galore, but while in the 1949 Ealing classic the canny locals raced to nab cases of whisky washed ashore from a shipwreck, in east Belfast they had to make do with hundreds of fish after a lorry shed a load of mackerel on the city's Ravenhill Road.

Locals hurried to scoop them up - but at least they didn't have to dodge the excise men as they scarpered with their pruck.

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