Weekend Eats: Fish Dishes For Easter From The Sydney Seafood School

Roberta Muir from the Sydney Seafood School

Roberta Muir has run Australia’s leading cooking school, the Sydney Seafood School for 17 years at the Sydney Fish Market.

The nation’s top chefs, including Guillaume Brahimi, Colin Fassnidge (Four in Hand), Mark Best (Marque), Mark Jensen (Red Lantern), Frank Camorra (MoVida), Phil Wood (Rockpool), Dan Hong (Mr Wong), David Thompson (nahm, Bangkok), Lucio Galletto (Lucio’s Italian Restaurant) and Stefano Manfredi (Balla) hold regular classes there.

Roberta is also the author of the Sydney Seafood School Cookbook, featuring recipes from Australia’s finest chefs.

For Good Friday, she shares some of her favourite recipes.

Fettuccine with Balmain bugs

This recipe is inspired by a dish Stefano Manfredi cooked with yabbies at Manta in Woolloomooloo, 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.

Baked whole coral trout with potato & tomato

Coral trout is a striking looking fish with its blue spots against a red skin. It presents beautifully as a whole fish and the sweet, white flesh marries well with the Mediterranean flavours in this dish.
Serves 4

Baked whole coral trout Photo: Franz Scheurer

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
2 tablespoons rosemary, roughly chopped
1 dried bay leaf
½ cup small black olives
200ml dry white wine
800g canned tomatoes, roughly chopped
½ cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 large potatoes
1 x 1.5kg coral trout, scaled, gilled and gutted

Preheat the oven to 200ºC.

Heat half the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, add the rosemary, bay and olives and cook for a further minute. Add the wine and bring to the boil. Add the tomatoes, parsley, salt and pepper, return to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile peel and dice the potatoes and place in a heavy roasting dish. Add remaining olive oil, salt and pepper and toss well to coat. Bake for 10 minutes.

Thoroughly rinse the belly cavity of the fish, removing any blood. Check for any remaining scales. Pat dry with paper towel and score both sides of the fish with 3 or 4 angled cuts through to the bone.

Remove roasting dish from oven and push potatoes to the sides of the dish to make space for the fish. Place fish in dish and spoon the tomato sauce over the top. Return roasting dish to oven and bake for a further 30-40 minutes, until the flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Alternative Species: Barramundi, ocean perch, pearl perch, red emperor, snapper.

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