Manna From Devon Cooking School LogoLearn To Cook Fabulous, Fresh Fish At Manna From Devon Cooking School

    23 Aug 13

The latest craze to take the country by storm is cooking fabulous fresh fish in a wood-fired oven.  It is the perfect way to create delicious, healthy and locally-sourced dishes which will impress all.

David and Holly at Manna from Devon Cooking School count themselves extremely lucky to be only a stone’s throw away from Brixham, one of the most important fishing ports in Europe and the UK’s largest fish market. This gives them access to a wide selection of the best fish in the country.

They run a number of ‘Fabulous Fish’ classes throughout the year (7th September; 12th and 16th October; 16th November; further dates in the diary on; £135 per day) which are built around the availability of fresh, locally caught fish in perfect condition. During a course day they take a wide selection of fresh, local seafood and learn to prepare it from scratch as they discuss sourcing, how to buy the best fish and how

to cook it whether steamed, pan-fried, grilled or baked.

By the end of the course you’ll be confident with buying, filleting, and cooking many different types of fish and seafood including both well-known and less familiar species.

Throughout the day you’ll enjoy a tasting menu of the many dishes you cook.  As well as basic cooking techniques you’ll also learn to cook recipes featuring Asian and Mediterranean flavours.

David and Holly’s extremely popular ‘Wood Fired Oven Cookbook’, which is available on Amazon and in independent bookstores (Aquamarine, RRP £9.99), has lots of delicious, easy to follow fish recipes for you to try which can be cooked either in a wood-fired oven or in a conventional oven.  You’re sure to be tempted by David and Holly’s ‘Fish soup with aioli and sourdough toasts’; ‘Bream baked in salt’; ‘Scallops with chilli and mint’; or their ‘Marinated squid with home-made chilli mayonnaise’.

Established in 2005, Manna from Devon Cooking School is run by Holly and David Jones who teach cooking skills to small groups in the relaxed environment of their Victorian home overlooking the beautiful River Dart in South Devon. The name Manna from Devon refers to the biblical Manna from Heaven, the miraculous food which God caused to appear in the desert in order to sustain the Israelites on their flight from Egypt. The food made at Manna from Devon is indisputably ‘heavenly’.

At Manna from Devon David and Holly believe that food is a lot more than just fuel. It feeds our imagination, reminds us of our history, reflects family, cements friendships, underpins (or undermines) our health and defines our culture. On top of all that it brings us joy at every mouthful and pleasure in its preparation.

Manna from Devon Cooking School is positioned in an area of outstanding natural beauty in Kingswear. The stylishly decorated, homely kitchen and the outdoors’ decking overlook simply stunning views across the Dart estuary to Dartmouth.  In addition to the main kitchen there is a second kitchen which is in the style of a bakery.   One thing is guaranteed, the minute you walk through the door of the cooking school David and Holly will make you feel very much at home.

Recipe Suggestions

Black Bream Baked in Salt

Black Bream Baked In SaltBaking fish covered in salt in the wood fired oven is a technique that has been used for hundreds of years especially where salt is plentiful – the heat makes the salt crust really hard which makes it easy to take off the salt and the skin and keeps the fish flesh underneath deliciously moist as it’s protected from the high heat by the layers of salt.  Just be careful not to break the salt over the fish flesh once it is cooked otherwise it will become very salty.  Other whole scaly fish work well in this recipe too e.g. sea bass, grey mullet or red mullet.  If you can’t get large bream, get small ones weighing in at about 500g/1¼ lb which will each feed 1 person.  A 1kg bream will feed 2 people.

1 x 1kg/2.2lb black bream

½ lemon, sliced thinly

3 bay leaves and 3 sprigs fresh herb fennel

Lots of table salt


  1. Build up the fire on the base of the oven until the temperature gets to 240C/460F.  This will take about 60 minutes.  When it is up to temperature, push the fire to the back of the oven with your metal peel or coal hook.  Keep the door shut to keep the heat in.
  2. Clean the bream, trim off any sharp fins and wash the belly under the cold tap.  Stuff the belly cavity with the lemon slices, bay leaves and fennel.  If you can’t get it all in, put it on top of the fish before completely covering with the salt.
  3. Put a 2.5cm/1” layer of salt on the bottom of a roasting tin that the fish will fit in.  Put the fish on top and cover it with another thick layer of salt.
  4. Open the oven door and wearing your oven gloves, place the roasting tin on the oven floor.  Shut the door and bake the fish in the oven for 30 minutes.
  5. Open the door and take the tin out of the oven.  Make sure you wear your thick oven gloves to do this in case you burn yourself on the oven sides.
  6. Break open the salt crust and peel the skin away from the fish as well as all the salt, being careful not to drop any salt on to the cooked fish.
  7. Serve the deskinned fish fillets at once with some lemon wedges and a green vegetable such as some wilted spinach or leeks.

If you haven’t got a wood fired oven it’s not a problem.  Just heat you own normal oven to 210C/Gas 7 and follow the recipe as above.

Baked Scallops with Lemon, Chilli and Mint

Scallops, like all fish respond fantastically well to the hot temperatures in the wood fired oven – they get a good charring on the outside which adds to the flavours of the recipe but the fish is kept very moist due to the quick cooking.  By baking the scallops in the round shells you don’t get any washing up either – just throw the shells away.  Remember though the shells will be really hot when they come out of the oven so do be careful.  Our friends Mitch Tonks and Mat Prowse at the famous Seahorse Restaurant in Dartmouth inspired this recipe – their version uses garlic, parsley and white port and is one of their most ordered dishes.

Ingredients:Baked Scallops With Lemon, Chilli and MintServes 6 as a starter

18 cleaned large scallops with the round scallop shells, also cleaned

Juice and zest 1 large lemon

1tbsp chilli oil

3tbsp olive oil

30g butter, softened

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

2tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

2tbsp dried white breadcrumbs

Salt and pepper

4tbsp roughly chopped fresh mint


  1. Build up the fire on the base of the oven until the temperature gets to 250C/480F.  This will take about 60 minutes.  When it is up to temperature, push the fire to the back of the oven with your metal peel or coal hook.  Keep the door shut to keep the heat in.
  2. Put the scallops with their roes back in the cleaned shells.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the lemon juice and zest with the chilli oil and olive oil, the butter, garlic, parsley and breadcrumbs.  Season well and divide this mixture over the 18 scallops in their half shells.
  4. Put the scallop shells on to 2 baking sheets.
  5. Open the oven door and wearing oven gloves, place the baking sheets on the oven floor. Shut the door and bake the scallops in the very hot oven for 5 minutes until golden and sizzling.
  6. Open the door and carefully move the baking sheets to the front of the oven using your metal peel to do so; it’s best to wear oven gloves as well.  Pick up the baking sheets but be careful to keep them level so you don’t lose any of the delicious juices.
  7. Place 3 of the shells on 6 plates and sprinkle over the fresh mint.  Serve at once with some good bread to mop up all the juices remembering that the shells will be really hot.

We cook this a lot on our fish cooking courses at the cookery school.  If you haven’t got a wood fired oven just heat your normal oven to 210C/Gas 7 and bake the scallops for 8-10 minutes until they are cooked through and sizzling.

To hear their latest news follow Manna from Devon on Twitter (@mannafromdevon) or link up with them on Facebook