Tag Archives: seafood

Hand-moulded Sushi

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Sunday was Father’s Day.  Father’s Day means that Wal got woken up nice and early by his two loving kids. They jumped up and down on him, read him stories and gave him lots of cuddles. I spent that time at the other end of the house reading a book – really enjoying the attention being poured upon Dad.

I wasn’t surprised when Wal suggested a trip to the fish markets to buy some sushimi.  I decided to treat him to some sushi for a bit of a change.

A big platter of sushi, a glass of white wine, and a sunny backyard – perfect Father’s Dad afternoon.

Recipe Steps

Sushi

  • 2 c prepared sushi rice
  • 225 g sashimi tuna, sliced thinly (it it crucial that you buy only the freshest sashimi grade fish)
  • 2 t wasabi
  • 1/2 c prepared dipping sauce
  • medium bowl with cold water with 1 T rice vinegar

Sushi Vinegar

  • 1/2 c rice vinegar
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 t salt

Mix ingredients together and set aside until required.

Dipping sauce

  • 1/2 c light soy sauce
  • 1/2 t sesame oil
  • 1/2 t finely grated orange zest
  • 5 cm length spring onion, very finely chopped

Mix all ingredients together and set aside until required.

Sushi rice

I generally use only Australian produced rice, and so the sushi rice I use is SunRice Japanese-style sushi rice. Cook rice as per instructions (I use the absorption method).

Once cooked, spread rice in a large flat bottomed non-metal bowl. Using a paddle or spatula slice through the rice repeatedly to break up the clumps and to make it cool more quickly. As you do this, gradually add sushi vinegar to the rice. You may not need all the vinegar, you don’t want the rice to become too wet or mushy.

Moulding the sushi

Once the rice is cooled and ready you need to mould it into shape.

Dip your fingers into the water bowl and shake off the excess water. Pick up about a tablespoon of rice and gently squeeze into a rectangular shape with rounded edges. Next, pick up a slice of fish, and gently press onto the rice. The rice is very sticky so the fish will stay in place. If desired you can spread a small amount of wasabi along the centre of the fish before pressing it, wasabi side down, onto the rice. Otherwise, you can have wasabi on the plate to add as the sushi is eaten.

Serve on one large communal platter, or on individual platters, with wasabi and a small bowl of dipping sauce on the side.

Sushi preparation adapted from Cooking Class Japanese / Australian Women’s Weekly. Sydney: Network Distribution Co., c2001.

Crispy King Prawns with Honey Garlic Sauce

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On sunny weekends, when nothing else is on, we often make a trip to the Sydney Fish Market  to pickup some seafood for a decadent and indulgent lunch.  There are always so many fabulous seafood options to choose from.  I try to have a plan before I get there, or I am become too overwhelmed to choose!

Whatever else we buy, we almost always come home from the fish market with prawns. Everyone in our house loves prawns – so much so that there is pretty much no bad way to serve them.  However, when I say everyone loves them, that includes the cats. So if we are going to eat them, we have to be prepared to deal with the feline Jekyll to Hyde transformation that occurs as they pick up the scent.  The crazed caterwauling is horrendous. The claws come out as they reach upwards in the hope of snagging that loose tail.  They will haul themselves up our legs to get closer. They are relentless.

So in order to prepare prawns and enjoy eating them we must ban our furry friends from the house,  and play some music to drown out the howling and scratching against glass doors.

This recipe is another inspired by Kylie Kwong. Aside from the process of peeling the prawns it is very quick and easy to prepare, and is really tasty.

Recipe

  • 1 kg green king prawns
  • 3 t cornflour
  • 2 T water
  • 2 T light soy sauce
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 T finely chopped coriander
  • 1 t sesame oil
  • vegetable oil for frying

Honey Garlic Sauce

  • 2 T honey
  • 2 T shao hsing wine or dry sherry
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 T light soy sauce

Peel and de-vein prawns, leaving tails intact. In small bowl, mix ingredients for Honey Garlic Sauce and set aside.

Mix cornflour and water in a medium-sized bowl.  Add prawns, soy sauce, egg and sesame oil and mix well.  In wok or frying pan heat oil until the surface seems to shimmer.  Fry the prawns in batches for 1 minute. Drain on kitchen paper.

Drain oil and reheat wok until moderately hot.  Return prawns to it with the sauce and cook for 30 seconds.

Arrange on platter and serve immediately.

Adapted from Simple Chinese Cooking / Kylie Kwong. Camberwell : Lantern, 2006.

Mariners Restaurant Hamilton Island

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The Whitsundays is a chain of islands off the Queensland coast in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef.  There are 74 islands, most of them uninhabited, all of them beautiful. Hamilton Island is one of the larger islands and is essentially a giant resort. Hamilton is a good base for investigating the Whitsundays and the Reef. There are all sorts of activities available: sailing around the island, yachting between the islands, sports fishing tours, helicoptor tours, and of course a trip to the reef at some point is a must – although some people, like me, need to conquer seasickness and a fear of being so far from land. The Reef is truly amazing, the coral isn’t as colourful as I expected it to be the first time I went but it is still amazing to see, and the fish are outstanding. Every bit as colourful and abundant as any brochure claims.

 

What I love most about Hamilton is that you can just hang out there on the island. You don’t have to do any tours or go anywhere else. Being there can be enough – there are swimming pools all over the island (the one with the cocktail in the middle is my favourite) and doing nothing aside from lounging around enjoying the view with a good book and a cold beverage is a fine way to spend a holiday.

This trip, during the last week of June, was well into winter.  Winter in Hamilton is reputed to be very mild and sunny, with reported average maximum temperature of 24 degrees C (74 F), but we were most unlucky to have cold wet and windy days – and a house with no heater!  It was still beautiful, but not ideal.  It didn’t stop the kids from jumping into every swimming pool they could, or taking the catamarans out, and we even had one day good enough for a hike out to the reef.

                                                                           

However the bad weather gave us lots of time indoors, and plenty of time to think about food! We were hoping to go to try Bommies at the yacht club while we were there, but discovered that the minimum age for dinner reservations was 13, which ruled out taking our family.

One restaurant that we did go to was Mariners Seafood Restaurant.  I had been there before and loved it, and so I was keen to go back. Mariners is on the main street in town – Front Street and has a lovely view by day looking out over the marina to the islands beyond, and at night sparkling in the marina lights. The service at the restaurant is a joy.  Friendly and attentive without being obsequious.

I began with the seered scallops and pork belly. The scallops were juice and plump with a subtle sauce.  I expected the pork belly to be over-powering against the lightness of the scallops but found I enjoyed the contrast. The only failing of the dish was that there were only two scallops, when three would have been satisfying.

For mains I had the Thai-style Jungle Curry with Queensland tiger prawns.  The prawns were fresh and cooked perfectly, but the sauce was a little heavy on the fish sauce for me, alhtough Wal thought it was fabulous. I also thought the presentation was bland, but the portion size was very generous.

And just because we were there I couldn’t go past dessert.  A pear and caramel tart with a berry coulis.

I am normally not a huge fan of pears, but I do love caramel and any kind of berry, so I thought it was worth a try.  It was very rich, so I was glad I was sharing with one of the sprogs, and had some unusual flavours in it (still haven’t figured them out), but was delicious.

It was a lovely meal and a great night out, but overall I felt the food wasn’t quite at the same standard as my previous experience.  Still worth a go if you are visiting the island. I would go again…

Fab Fish n Chips at the Pickled Octopus

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As I have said before, there is nothing better than fresh fish.  So when you go on a holiday to a place with lakes and beaches full of fish, it is your chance to catch your own dinner.

However, sometimes no matter how hard you try you just can’t bag those slippery little devils.

So when you have hungry sprogs who have lost interest way before Wal broke the fishing rod, you have to admit defeat and go and buy some fish and chips.

Luckily, the best fish and chips in the world is close at hand at the Pickled Octopus, right on the edge of Tuross Lake on the far south coast of NSW (02 4473 6084).  The Pickled Octopus is right on the lake, so we can swing the boat around and park it against the deck.

You can actually sit upstairs and enjoy a full restaurant menu and table service, but when we rock up in the boat smelling a bit like our left over bait, we feel that staying downstairs (ie outside!) on the deck and ordering fish and chips is the more considerate option. Upstairs or downstairs the view is lovely.

                            

The fish and chips are fabulous.  The fish is always very fresh, the batter crisp and thin and the fish is cooked to just the right texture. The chips are crunchy with a very light batter, but are soft on the inside. The tartare sauce and lemon add the right amount of zest on the side.

Salmon Pie

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When I was very little the prospect of eating fish for dinner was nothing short of torture.  I hated it so much I convinced myself that it made me sick.  Now that my taste buds have matured, I know how to cook, and I have the benefits of being able to buy very fresh fish, I love it. It is very possible that when I was a child living in Indiana fresh fish was not abundantly available, so perhaps my initiation into seafood wasn’t what it could have been.

I think I moved from liking fish to loving it after I started eating fish that Wal and I caught in the lakes of the NSW far south coast.   Suddenly the differences between flathead and bream, whiting and blackfish became apparent, and I realised that fish weren’t just ‘white fish’ or ‘dark fish’.  I have never looked back. 

But I digress.  The point of this is that when you have a couple of pampered sprogs that don’t necessarily like fish, this recipe might win them over.

Recipe

  • 1 lg can salmon
  • 1/2 c ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 c cottage cheese
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 t dried basil
  • 6 medium mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 zucchinis, sliced
  • 2 1/2 sheets puff pastry

Remove bone and skin from salmon, and mix with cheeses, spring onion and basil.  Saute mushrooms and zucchini separately. Grease 26cm pie pan. Line with one sheet thickness puff pastry. Spread salmon and cheese over pastry.  Layer mushrooms over the mix. Layer zucchini over mushrooms.  Use remaining puff pastry to cover pie with cross hatch and trim around the edge.  Bake in moderate-hot oven 30 minutes 0r until pie crust is golden brown.  It is important that the oven is pre-heated for this recipe.

Baked Bream

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Easter is a foodie’s dream time.  All sorts of opportunities to make things you might not normally make, and excuses to indulge in a way that you can claim is OK because ‘it’s only once a year’.  I think fish on Good Friday is a very good idea – regardless of your religious commitment, it is a healthy choice, and there are so many ways to make fish delicious. One of my favourite fish to eat is bream.  It is a white fleshed fish, so it is mild, but it has a lovely sweetness and good texture.

Recipe

  • 4 good sized bream fillets
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1 1/4 c fresh breadcrumbs
  • 4 T chopped semi-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1T fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 3 T butter, extra

Melt 2 t butter with fresh tomatoes and garlic. Spread evenly over baking pan just large enough to contain fish with no overlap. Lay fish over the base.  Melt extra butter and mix it with remaining ingredients until well combined and crumbly. Spread evenly over fish and press down lightly.  Cook in moderate oven about 15 minutes or until fish is just cooked.

Sashimi Tuna with Orange Soy Sauce

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We ate a fair bit of fish when I was a kid, but if anyone had offered it to me raw I would have been totally grossed out. We weren’t especially adventurous with seafood anyway, but sashimi was way beyond us.  When I look back I think of all the sashimi eating years wasted!   Now that I have seen the light, I could eat sashimi every day – which is great because it is so healthy, but less great because it is expensive.  However, Wal and I will often spoil ourselves on a lazy sunny Sunday afternoon with a trip to the fish markets. 

Recipe

  • 250 g sashimi grade tuna
  • Wasabi paste

Sauce

  •  5 T soy sauce
  • 1 T orange zest
  • 1 t finely grated ginger
  • couple drops sesame oil
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh coriander

Mix all ingredients together and leave for 20 minutes for flavours to infuse.

Arrange fish on individual serving plates, and add some wasabi on the side.  Fill very small bowls with sauce and place on plate.  That’s it!  

If you feel like being really extravagent, buy some cooked prawns while you are at the fish markets.  They are also delicious dipped in the orange soy sauce.