Chefs Kirsty Scobie and Fenella Renwick on their favourite Scottish seafood

Kirsty Scobie and Fenella Renwick are founders of The Seafood Shack, a restaurant in the small fishing village of Ullapool on the northwest coast of Scotland, and co-authors of the book of the same name.

By Kirsty Scobie and Fenella Renwick
Published 2 May 2021, 08:00 BST, Updated 15 Jun 2021, 14:15 BST
Boats on the shore of Ullapool, a village in Ross and Cromarty, in the Scottish Highlands.

Boats on the shore of Ullapool, a village in Ross and Cromarty, in the Scottish Highlands.

Photograph by Getty Images

We live in Ullapool, a small fishing village on the northwest coast of Scotland, where around seven local creel boats, four local trawling boats and more than a dozen visiting boats land each week.

Our daily plans at The Seafood Shack are normally based on whatever Kirsty’s partner Josh’s fishing boat, Bon Ami, has dropped off that morning. There’s always some discussion, such as “Please can we have four boxes of langoustines today?” or “Yes, we’ll take 24 lobsters tomorrow”, but it’s always changing and we’re never quite sure what will be waiting for us in the morning.

Our scallop diver will randomly pop his head in on any given day and say, “I’ve got some scallops for you,” and within an hour they’ll be on the menu. Our fishmonger is the one who’s organised, though; twice a week, we make a big white fish order with him.

Each week in the summer months, our local oyster farmer drops off a hundred fresh oysters, and within a few days they’ll all be gone. We also jump in the car once or twice a week to visit a nearby smokehouse to collect some trout, which is smoked in aged whisky barrels and cured in honey; it’s the most delicious smoked fish you’ll get.

We have disagreements — or ‘different memories’ — on how and when we decided to open The Seafood Shack, but we both agree on why. Many tonnes of seafood are caught in Scottish seas and then transported straight out of Ullapool. We wanted to play a part — albeit small — in keeping some of our seafood local.

This is an edited extract from The Seafood Shack: Food & Tales from Ullapool, published by Kitchen Press (RRP: £20).

Langoustines are best enjoyed pan-fried in butter with whole garlic cloves and plenty of pepper and salt, then served hot with a wedge of lemon and freshly baked bread for mopping up the delicious, sweet juices.

Photograph by Clair Irwin

Kirsty and Fenella’s unmissable ingredients

1. Squat lobsters
Also known as ‘spineys’, squat lobsters are particularly common off the northwest coast of Scotland. They’re small, sweet and delicious when cooked in a light, crispy tempura batter with a side of roasted garlic aioli.

2. Crab
There are two main ingredients within a crab: white meat, which is flaky and delicate, and brown meat, which is smoother and more strongly flavoured. White meat pairs well with simple things like green herbs and zesty fruits, but you can be more experimental with brown meat — try adding spices like ginger and chilli.

3. Oysters
Our local oyster farmer grows oysters for three years before they’re sold. They feed on plankton and filter through the cold, pristine waters off the west coast. They have an almost creamy texture and are full and plump; we like them raw, with a spritz of lemon and a dash of Tabasco.

Love food and travel? Taste the world at the National Geographic Traveller Food Festival, our immersive culinary event that takes place every summer. Find out more and book your tickets.

Published in the May 2021 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

Find us on social media


Explore Nat Geo

  • Animals
  • Environment
  • History & Culture
  • Science
  • Travel
  • Photography
  • Space
  • Adventure
  • Video

About us


  • Magazines
  • Disney+

Follow us

Copyright © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society. Copyright © 2015-2023 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved