5 seriously delicious and simple fish recipes to cook for Good Friday

Sydney Fish Market: Photo: Simon Thomsen

The Sydney Fish Market is currently open around-the-clock, pulling an all-nighter as thousands swarm for seafood for Good Friday.

Cooking fish can be a little scary for some people, but it’s not as much trouble as everyone fears. But if you do want to get your confidence up, a couple of classes at the Sydney Seafood School , with some of Australia’s best chefs is both fun and convivial – you learn how to cook a dish and then sit down together to eat it.

Dan Hong from Mr Wong, Phil Wood from Rockpool, Guillaume Brahimi and Lucio Galletto from Lucio’s are among the presenters in coming months. For details, check out the program.

Roberta Muir has run the Sydney Seafood School for 18 years and the author of the Sydney Seafood School Cookbook, featuring recipes from Australia’s finest chefs, so Business Insider turned to her for advice and some great dishes to try.

Ribaldo & Sweet Potato Fish Cakes with Dill Sauce

Fish cakes are a great way to use off-cuts or less expensive fish such as ribaldo, a deep-sea fish caught as bycatch off the southern Australian coast. The fish flavour isn’t really noticeable, so they’re also a great way for people who don’t particularly like fish to increase their seafood consumption.
Serves 6

Fish cakes. Photo: Franz Scheurer.

450g kumara (sweet potato, see notes)
600g ribaldo fillets, skin off, bones removed
⅔ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Few drops Tabasco
3 cups fresh breadcrumbs (see notes)
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup plain flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cups baby rocket
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Dill Sauce
1 cup natural yoghurt
½ cup whole-egg mayonnaise (see notes)
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped dill
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Peel and dice kumara and steam until tender. Mash until smooth.

Cut fish into large chunks, pulse in a food processor, in 2 batches if necessary, until coarsely chopped. Combine well with kumara, parsley, green onion, Tabasco, 1 cup of the breadcrumbs, salt and pepper.

Wet hands and divide mixture into 12 patties. Flatten slightly and lightly dust with flour, dip in beaten egg and then in remaining breadcrumbs. Place on a plate, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile make Dill Sauce: whisk all ingredients together.

Heat a frying pan over medium heat, add ¾ of the oil and, when hot, add fishcakes and cook each side for about 3 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Drain on paper towel.

Toss rocket with remaining oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and mound in the centre of plates, place fish cakes on top and drizzle with Dill Sauce. Pass the remaining sauce separately.

Notes: Kumara is orange-coloured sweet potato. To make fresh breadcrumbs, pulse day-old bread in a food processor until finely crumbed. It’s a great way to use up stale bread and you can keep them in the freezer to use whenever breadcrumbs are required. If you don’t want to make your own mayonnaise, use one made from whole eggs such as Paul Newman’s Own or Thomy.

Alternative species: Redfish, silver warehou, barramundi, ling, morwong.

Fettuccine with Balmain bugs

This recipe is inspired by a dish Stefano Manfredi cooked with yabbies and will work equally well with any crustacean. For best results use pasta made with eggs (all’uovo).
Serves 4 as an entrée

Fettucine with Balmain Bugs . Photo Franz Scheurer

6 green Balmain bugs (see notes)
250g fettuccine
100g butter
2 golden shallots, finely diced
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup chopped chervil
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Drop chilled bugs into a large saucepan of well-salted, rapidly boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Strain and run under cold water to arrest cooking.

Rinse and refill saucepan, salt well and return to the boil. When boiling, add pasta.

Meanwhile, turn bugs over and cut down either side of the underside of the tail shell using kitchen scissors, peel shell back and remove meat. Slice in half, remove the digestive tract (grey thread) running down the middle of the tail meat and cut meat into bite-sized chunks.

Melt butter in a frying pan. When foaming, add shallots and sesame seeds and cook over a medium heat, stirring frequently, until shallots are soft but not coloured. Add bug meat to the pan and stir well.

Drain cooked pasta, add to the pan with chervil, toss well to coat in butter. Taste, add salt and pepper and serve in warmed bowls.

Notes: If bugs are live, chill them in the freezer for 30-45 minutes to kill them before cooking (see www.rspca.org.au for more details).

Alternative Species: Marron, Moreton Bay bug, prawns, redclaw, rocklobsters, scampi, yabby.

Char-grilled yellowtail kingfish fillets with pine nut & parsley salad & tahini sauce

The Middle Eastern flavours in this dish complement the rich flavour of the kingfish well. The currants add a surprising sweet note to the salad, which can be made a couple of hours ahead of time.
Serves 4

Char-Grilled Yellowtail Kingfish fillets with pine put, parsley salad & tahini sauce. Photo: Franz Scheurer

4 x 180g pieces yellowtail kingfish fillet, skin on, bones removed
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 rounds Lebanese bread, quartered

Tahini Sauce
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon crushed garlic

Parsley Salad
¾ cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
⅓ cup pine nuts, toasted (see notes)
¼ cup currants, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, drained and dried
3 golden shallots, finely sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Make Tahini Sauce: combine all ingredients with 2 tablespoons of cold water and mix well; the tahini will become very thick when the water is first added, continue stirring and it will thin out; add more water if necessary, a little at a time, until it becomes the consistency of pouring cream.

Make Parsley Salad: combine all ingredients and mix well.

Heat a barbecue or char-grill plate.

Cut several slashes into the skin of the fish, sprinkle with salt and pepper and brush well with olive oil. Cook, skin-side down, for 2-3 minutes on one side, then turn and cook for a further minute or 2, until opaque and flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Divide salad between plates, place fish on top, drizzle with tahini sauce and serve with Lebanese bread.

Notes: Toast pine nuts in a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes, tossing gently to prevent them burning, or under a griller (but watch them closely).

Alternative Species: Mackerel, mahi mahi, morwong, silver trevally, striped marlin, swordfish, tuna.

Whole Poached Salmon with Cucumber Salad

Traditionally salmon is poached in court bouillon, but English food writer, Jane Grigson, recommends strong brine for an even tastier result, while allowing the fish to cool in the poaching liquid helps keep it moist. It takes a bit of confidence to handle the whole cooked fish; if you feel hesitant about turning it over, just peel back the skin from one side for presentation.
Serves 12

Poached salmon Photo: Franz Scheurer.

525g coarse salt
6 litres water
1 x 2.5-3kg salmon, gilled and gutted
Dill sprigs, to garnish

Cucumber Salad with Caper & Dill Mayonnaise
250ml whole-egg mayonnaise (see notes)
½ cup finely chopped dill
½ cup baby capers, rinsed and dried
6 Lebanese cucumbers, seeded, cut into half moons
Salt flakes, to taste

Dissolve salt in water and set aside.

Rinse fish, especially the cavity to remove any blood, wipe with a clean cloth to remove as much of the slime as possible. Place fish on the rack in a fish kettle, cover with salt water and place lid on top. Place kettle over 2 burners on a medium heat and bring to the boil (this should take about 20 minutes). As soon as the water begins to bubble, turn off heat, remove the lid and leave fish to cool completely in poaching liquid (1½-2 hours).

Meanwhile make Cucumber Salad: combine mayonnaise, dill and capers; set half aside. Stir remainder through cucumbers, taste and add salt.

When cool, remove fish from poaching liquid, place on a serving platter and carefully remove skin, then gently scrape off any dark flesh from just below the skin. Carefully turn over and repeat on the other side, leaving head and tail intact.

Spoon Cucumber Salad around fish, garnish with dill and serve remaining mayonnaise on the side.

Notes: If you don’t want to make your own mayonnaise, use one made from whole eggs such as Paul Newman’s Own or Thomy.

Alternative species: Rainbow trout (especially sea-raised, sold as ‘ocean trout’).

Seafood Pie with Leek, Garlic & Chives

Flaky pastry, creamy béchamel sauce and succulent seafood – what’s not to love about a creamy seafood pie?
Serves 4

Fish pie. Photo: Franz Scheurer.

50g butter
½ leek, washed thoroughly, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 x 200g piece ling fillet, skin off, pin-boned, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 x 200g piece salmon fillet, skin off, pin-boned, cut into bite-sized pieces
100g green prawns, peeled, deveined, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 bunch chives, chopped
2 sheets ready-rolled butter puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten

Béchamel Sauce
1 tablespoon salted butter
1 tablespoon plain flour
200ml milk
Pinch salt
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Make Béchamel Sauce: melt butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Add flour and stir for 2-4 minutes, until it turns sandy. Stirring constantly, gradually add the milk. Increase heat and stir until it boils and thickens. Remove from heat and stir in salt and nutmeg and set aside.

Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat, stir in leek, garlic and a good pinch of salt, cover and cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring often, until soft but not coloured. Stir in fish and prawns, increase heat to high and cook for a minute or 2 until coloured all over. Stir in wine and chives and cook for a minute or so until wine boils. Remove from heat and stir in Béchamel Sauce. Taste and add salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 220°C.

Roll out 1 sheet of pastry a little if necessary, place a 23cm pie dish upside down on it and cut around it allowing a 2cm margin. Repeat with remaining sheet. Butter and flour the pie dish, line with pastry. Cover pastry with baking paper, fill with dried beans or baking beads and bake for 10-15 minutes, until very lightly coloured.

Remove baking paper, place filling in the pie shell and brush edges of pastry with egg. Top with remaining disc of pastry and use a fork to press the edges together well to seal, cut 2 or 3 slashes in the pastry and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden.

Alternative species: Blue-eye trevalla, ocean trout, scallops.

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