Two fabulous fish chefs

ELIZABETH LATHAM
Last updated 12:45 22/02/2013

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At the Table

There's no taste like home Land of hops and honey Eating on the street A taste of the tropics Myths and mellow fruitfulness Crustacean craving Oh for onions Terrific tomatoes Cable Bay Cafe keeps it local Succulent summer sandwiches

A bookshelf full of cook books and Cuisine magazines makes me a happy woman. I regularly trawl through my books and magazines for inspiration and excitement and never get tired of it. I guess that is the sign of a food lover!

There are two chefs who publish fish cookbooks that are winners for me. One is Rick Stein and the other is Al Brown.

I was given the Rick Stein book by my good friend and ex colleague Serge Crottaz, who used to work on these stories with me. Rick's book Seafood has become my fish bible and there are some stunning dishes in the book. Turbot with sauce Vierge I wrote about several years ago and it turned me on to turbot, along with a few others from what Guytons staff have told me.

There are hundreds of recipes in the book and they introduce flavour and taste combinations that have altered my palate, much to my delight. Rick lives in Padstow in Cornwall - where he has several restaurants - most of the time, and Sydney some of the time.

Rick is probably one of the best known celebrity chefs in the world, made more so by numerous TV series. He also makes regular trips to New Zealand and he shares my love of Fleur's Place in Moeraki, the best fish restaurant in the country.

Al Brown's culinary fame is more local. His star rose as the co-owner of Logan Brown in Wellington, one of the best restaurants in the city, but more recently he has been featuring on TV and now runs the very trendy restaurant The Depot in Auckland. The menu features many delicious small plates and a quirky casual style. He has also taken to cookbook writing like a duck to water. A while back I reviewed his Go Fish book for the Nelson Mail and have been using it regularly ever since.

I really like his thoughtful combinations of tastes. I mix and match his recipes, taking different items from different recipes and re-arranging them according to my interest at the time.

Both authors provide really excellent information about fish and their origins and how to process and cook them. Rick's perspective is more based on northern hemisphere fishing and Al's provides the New Zealand perspective, but both give hints about cooking that are excellent.

For this story I have taken three recipes from Rick and Al and mixed them up a little to put my own stamp on things. They are all summer recipes and the fish can be served hot or cold.

The snapper recipe calls for snapper with the skin on and Guytons are very accommodating about special orders if you give them a little warning. I used Australian banana prawns for the recipe also available fresh from Guytons. They are so much better than the frozen prepackaged prawns of dubious origin, available in the supermarkets.

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I say dubious because of the farming practices in prawn farms in Asia.

PANKO CRUMBED GURNARD WITH CHIPOTLE MAYONNAISE

Serves 4

500g gurnard fillets
Flour for dredging seasoned with salt and pepper
I egg beaten
Panko crumbs - these are Japanese breadcrumbs available in New World and Fresh Choice
Oil for frying

Coat the fillets in flour, then egg then crumbs. Saute until golden in a frypan with a small amount of oil. Drain on paper towels.

Make the mayonnaise

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp of Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 1 cup of oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp of Tabasco with Chipotle (available at Fresh Choice)

Put the egg and mustard in a food processor with 1 Tbsp of oil. Process for about 2 minutes. Very slowly add the oil. At the end add the lemon juice, salt and pepper and chipotle tabasco.

Serve the fish in a warm tortilla with lettuce and rocket and lots of mayonnaise.

CHILLED POACHED BLUENOSE WITH GREEN SALSA AND SUMMER TOMATOES AND GARLIC CROUTONS

Serves 4

Preheat oven to 150
400g of bluenose or groper - use thick pieces.
Water to cover the fish
Parsley
Lemon rings

Cut the fish into thick slices and place in an oven dish. Cover with hot salted water, handfuls of parsley and a piece of lemon on each slice of fish. Cover with tinfoil and poach in the oven until just cooked. This will take less than 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the fish from the liquid. Bring the fish and poaching liquid to room temperature then combine again and put in the refrigerator to chill.

GREEN SALSA

( I think this goes with anything and keeps for about a week if it could possibly last that long.)

1 green pepper, finely sliced
2 shallots finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic finely sliced
3 gherkins chopped
2 Tbsp capers
4-5 anchovies
cup of parsley
cup of basil
cup of mint
Grated rind and juice of a lemon
cup of lemon infused oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and process until finely chopped.

CROUTONS

Slice some French bread into small squares. On a baking tray smear olive oil and a clove of crushed garlic. Toss the bread in the oil and then bake in the oven until golden.

Put fat slices of tomato on the plate then one or two pieces of fish then the salsa, then top with the croutons and drizzle over some excellent local extra virgin olive oil.

CHARGRILLED SNAPPER WITH BANANA PRAWNS AND SALSA

Serves 4

600 grams of snapper fillets with the skin on
2 cleaned and shelled banana prawns per person
Salsa
1 mango cut into small chunks - it is best if the mango is only just coming ripe
1 avocado - a firm flesh is best - also cut into small chunks
1-2 chilli, seeds and all - finely chopped
Juice of two limes
Lots of chopped coriander and mint
red pepper - finely chopped
Sea salt

Mix all the ingredients together and let them infuse.

On a grill, barbecue or stove top, cook the snapper skin-side down until just cooked. Cook the banana prawns until just pink. Serve the fish on top of the salsa.

- Nelson

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