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By Elizabeth AtiaMarch 1st 2014
Elizabeth Atia

Shetland's seafood industry is worth a staggering £300 million to the local economy, according to So Much to Sea, surpassing the value of the oil, gas, agriculture, tourism and creative industries combined. For every £1 spent on local produce £2.59 is generated for the local economy.

The So Much to Sea project was launched by Seafood Shetland in February 2014 with the primary aim of building awareness, both locally and further afield, of Shetland's seafood industry. They have organized a series of community events around Shetland built around an exhibition and a film in a bid to generate a greater understanding of the significance of Shetland's seafood industry and how it influences Shetland as a whole.

These community events involve seafood tastings and music and I was delighted to be able to attend one in the Walls, on the west side of Shetland, this evening. There are more community events and seafood tastings planned throughout the month of March in Vidlin, Yell and Whalsay, so be sure to head to one if you can!

After browsing the informative and very well researched exhibition in the Walls kirk we headed to the hall where James Martin from The Peerie Shop Cafe cooked up some mouth-watering seafood including Shetland mussels in white wine (pictured left), monkfish wrapped in parma ham and a bouillabaisse with squid, gurnard, cod and monkfish (my personal favourite of the evening).

I have a confession to make: I've lived by the sea my entire life and I never tasted shellfish until this evening! I am officially a convert - I've been missing out all these years! I have much catching up to do. My young daughter, also new to shellfish, returned three times to ask for more of the delicious and juicy Shetland mussels!

There is an increase in demand these days from people wanting to know exactly where their food is coming from, and with Shetland seafood the source is easy to trace: in tonight's case, the cod and squid was caught by the Radiant Star LK71 at the Burra Haaf, and the monkfish was caught by the Ocean Way LK207. The mussels were grown in Walls and supplied by Shetland Mussels Ltd.

The organizers behind So Much to Sea have very kindly provided a recipe for me to share with you all, using fresh and sustainable Shetland seafood and you can find plenty more quick and easy recipes on their website. Shetland seafood is the ultimate fast food!

Shetland Seafood Spaghetti

Course: Main
Servings: 6 people


  • Shetland mussels - 900 grams
  • Leeks - 2
  • Onion - 1 (peeled)
  • Olive oil - 2 tbsp
  • Garlic - 1 clove (crushed)
  • Saffron threads - large pinch
  • Spaghetti - 350 grams
  • Salt and pepper -
  • Dry white wine - 200 ml
  • Shetland double cream - 150 ml
  • Chopped parsley - 45 ml
  • Shetland prawns/langoustine - 225 grams
  • Shetland scallops - 6 large
  • Chopped parsley - (to garnish)


  1. Clean the Shetland mussels and discard any that are open.
  2. Thinly slice the leeks; finely chop the onion.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the leeks, onion, garlic and saffron and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring all the time.
  4. Cover the pan, lower the heat and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender.
  5. Cook spaghetti in a large pan of boiling salted water for 8-10 minutes or until al dente.
  6. Meanwhile, add the wine, cream and parsley to the leek mixture. Bring to the boil for a few minutes to reduce slightly.
  7. Add the seafood, re-cover and cook for 2-3 minutes, shaking the pan frequently, until the mussels have opened and the prawns are cooked. Discard any mussels that stay closed.
  8. Spoon seafood mixture over the cooked spaghetti, garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately.
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