Tag Archives: Sustainable Fish

PASTA CON SPADA E MENTA (Pasta with swordfish and mint)

Coinciding with the Long Weekend in October on Saturday Beachport had one of their regular Market Days, which are held at various times through the year.

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Beachport is a small seaside town in the South East of South Australia close to Robe and Millicent. Anyone familiar with South Australian wine would know about the Limestone Coast and the Coonawarra wine regions. Both are close by. Neighbouring wine regions include Wrattonbully and Mount Benson.

On the foreshore at Beachport there is a large, impressive landmark. It is an historic property called Bompas, formerly Beachport’s original hotel. Bompas has been through many changes, but since April 2012 Sarah and Jeremy are bringing life back into this independent, boutique hotel that serves as a cafe, restaurant and bar with unique accommodation and function facilities.

The reason I am writing about Bompas is that on the October Long Weekend the menu at Bompas featured Pasta with swordfish and mint, one of the recipes in Sicilian Seafood Cooking.The weekend was also the launch of their Asian menu which proved to be very popular.

Sarah and Jeremy now have Trish, an enthusiastic, local and young chef who is very happy to be there and they are equally pleased with her.

In the traditional Sicilian recipe swordfish is the preferred fish, a dense textured fish. I prefer to use sustainable fish and use, mackerel, burramundi, flathead, rockling, yellowtail kingfish or Mahi Mahi. Shell fish also enhances the sweetness of the dish and Sarah, Jeremy and Trish used scallops. They are also looking forward to using local fish on their menu (the fishing season has just started).

Trish did an excellent job of preparing the dish, but what it taught me as the writer is that it may have been useful to include extra hints in the recipe to clarify the process of cooking. Chefs may know how to do it, but what about the person who is not familiar with Italian cooking?

There is so much more advice that the writer of recipes may need to give. For example:

The recipe contains zucchini. What I wish to say is that Italians do overcook vegetables by our standards and in this case it is fairly important that the zucchini are sliced thinly and sautéed till soft – the recipe does not say this. The cooking releases the sweet juices of the zucchini and these are also added to the pasta and contribute to the flavour the dish.

There is also a fair amount of mint, this is added in the cooking process and at the end.

An other thing is that the wine needs to be evaporated so as to caramelize the juices released by the fish when this is sautéed.

And finally, all of the ingredients need to be hot when they are mixed together; this enables the fresh cheese to soften.

For 4-6 people

INGREDIENTS
pasta, 500g, ribbed, tubular like rigatoni or similar
fish, 400g, cut into pieces (4cm)
extra virgin
olive oil, ¾ cup
white wine, ½ cup
garlic, 3 cloves, chopped
mint, fresh, 15-20 leaves
salt and pepper to taste
formaggio fresco or fresh mozzarella or bocconcini, 300g,
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

PROCESSES
Cut the cheese into small cubes and set aside.
Heat the extra virgin olive oil; add the fish or shellfish and sauté it till it      is lightly coloured.
Add the garlic, wine, about a third of the mint and seasoning to the fish. Cover and cook gently till the fish is ready.
Combine fish, cheese and extra mint leaves (large leaves can be cut into smaller pieces).
Add the sauce to cooked and drained pasta, mix and and serve.

VARIATION
Add slices of 2-3 lightly fried zucchini (cooked separately in some extra virgin olive oil and added at the end). Add any juices left over from the zucchini.
To complement the green colour of the dish I sometimes sprinkle pistachio nuts on top.

I contribute a recipe for Seafoodnews a monthly publication.This is the same recipe and photo of the dish I submitted for the October issue.

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SHARKS IN PERIL. Recipe: Pesce in Pastella – fish in batter

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In the weeks before Christmas, I received an email headed Sharks in Peril. It was sent by Tooni Mahto, Marine Campaigner from The Marine Conservation Society and was a call to action to reduce shark fishing. The gruesome practice of catching sharks purely for their fins was a special focus of Tooni Mahto’s message.  Having watched documentary footage of sharks being hauled on deck and having their fins hacked off, before pitched back into the sea to writhe and drown, I can’t imagine how anyone could sit down to relish shark fin soup.
Many shark species are listed as endangered by all of the conservation associations. And shark is caught and sold under a variety names, the most common being “flake”, which disguise what is really on sale. Many seafood customers are not aware that Fish and Chips shops, especially, use shark, sold as flake for their battered fish. King George whiting and flathead tails are a sustainable and better tasting alternative to ‘flake’. Even before I knew “flake” was actually shark, I never liked the taste.
In Italy, shark is called pescecane (fish/ dog) but it is also called squalo, however it also has other names (palombo, verdesca, smeriglio, vitella di mare) and Italians like the rest of the world may not know that they are eating shark or an endangered species.
From Slow Fish, Italy:
I pescecani non sono una minaccia per gli uomini, sono gli uomini che minacciano (e pesantemente) i pescecani!
Sharks are not a threat to men, it is men who threaten (and heavily) sharks.
 
The Sharks in Peril email came with an invitation to cut out the shape of a globally endangered hammerhead shark, and within the shape to write a message, which could be sent to the Australian Government. The photo above is my best effort to get the message across.
The following quotes have come from the Sharks in Peril Appeal and I hope that it will motivate you to look at their website.
Walking into a supermarket or fish and chip shop the last thing you would expect to see is an endangered species for sale. There would be outrage if tiger, whale or panda were being sold. But you will find globally endangered hammerheads available, right here in Australia. 
Every year a staggering 100 million sharks are caught and killed across the globe. 
Huge consumer demand for shark fins and other shark products has made sharks among the most valuable fish in the sea.
As silently as sharks slip on to the menu, their numbers slip towards extinction.
While more and more nations are giving their sharks sanctuary, here in Australia we’re finning,, filleting and battering them into oblivion. 
But this isn’t a distant problem in a distant ocean. Australian fisheries catch hundreds of thousands of sharks each year, sending shark meat to our supermarkets and fish shops and contributing hundreds of tonnes of fins to the shameful international trade in shark fin. Inconceivably this includes tens of thousands of sharks caught from within the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef including endangered species like the scalloped hammerhead.
 
N.B. If you have a copy of the first AMCS guide there are some changes to the classification of particular species of fish.

PASTELLA
Batter is called pastella in Italian and this particular one is mainly used to coat vegetables and fruit before frying, Using a heavy type batter is common for fish in Australia, however Italians generally use a much lighter batter to coat fish before frying ( light coating of flour or dipped in beaten egg first, then fine breadcrumbs).

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Recipe  from L’Artusi, La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiare bene (Pellegrino Artusi).

INGREDIENTS
100g plain flour,1 tablespoon of  extra virgin olive oil, 1 egg- separated, salt to taste, and  a little water.

PROCESSES
Combine egg yolk with other ingredients (add as much water as necessary) and make a thick batter.
Rest for 2 hours.
When ready to use add beaten egg white (stiff).

Dip fish in batter and fry.

 

MA2SBAE8REVW

FISH BALLS IN SALSA – POLPETTE DI PESCE (PURPETTI in Sicilian)

Purpettipolpette in Italianare the words for meatballs, but these purpetti are made with fish
Polpette di sarde are made with sardines and are very popular in Sicily, however other types of fish can be used. In my version of fish balls I have used a combination of snapper and flathead (sustainable in Victoria), but any firm skinless, non-oily fish is OK. You will need a meat grinder or a food processor to mince the fish.
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Polpette made with fish can be made with as many combinations of flavours and particularly common around Catania is the combination of grated pecorino, garlic and parsley – the same as for making meat balls. I like to add grated lemon zest and cinnamon as well. The polpette can be fried and served plain with a squeeze of lemon or poached in a tomato salsa as I have done on this occasion.

I presented them to friends simply served with bread and accompanied with some roast peppers and a green leaf mixed salad with radishes – perfect for a light lunch.

This recipe is in my second book, Small Fishy Bites.

INGREDIENTS

fish, 500g, see above
grated pecorino cheese, ½ cup
currants, ½ cup
pine nuts, ½ cup
parsley or fresh mint, ½ cup cut finely
garlic, 2 cloves, chopped finely
salt and pepper to taste
cinnamon powder and lemon zest, ½ teaspoon of each
egg, 1 
breadcrumbs,1 cup, made from fresh bread

PROCESSES

Cut the fish into chunks and mince using a meat grinder or food processor – I do not like it to be too fine.
Combine all of the ingredients – the mixture should be quite firm and hold their shape. Shape into small balls.
For the tomato sauce:
In a saucepan large enough to hold the polpette, heat ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil, add a clove of garlic, a little salt and 500g of chopped and peeled red tomatoes (canned or passata).
Heat the salsa to boiling then lower the heat and reduce to thicken slightly for about 5 minutes. Bring to boiling again.
Add the polpette to the tomato sauce, cover and braise for 8–12 minutes. Leave to rest in the sauce for at least 5 minutes – this will help them to set.
Serve hot.

 

SICILIAN COOKBOOK: Sicilian Seafood Cooking, photography and food styling

Fish+couscous

The book will feature recipes for fish (primi and secondi) and vegetables and will be called Sicilian Seafood Cookbook.  The photography is by Graeme Gillies and food styling by Fiona Rigg, but the book will also have photos that were shot in Sicily over my many travels.

There were approximately 70 dishes, cooked and photographed in 4.5 days. We were busy and the photographer and food stylist did an amazing job, as did the team of volunteer friends who were kitchen hands.

 Fiona dresses cauliflower dish for Graeme to shoot

The kitchen and dining room of my apartment was completely taken over by ingredients, implements, cutlery, crockery and decorative props for the week. Most of the furniture was shipped out and stored with friends and neighbours – so many people pitched in to help.

I source most of my ingredients from my favourite and ever-reliable suppliers in the Queen Victoria Market. But I also travelled to the Preston and Kingston Markets for some of the more exotic things such as sea urchins (ricci) – these unfortunately were suitable for the props only and were not very edible.

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I found Coorong mullets, urchin roe, wild/line caught species of fish (sustainable) from a couple of specialist, restaurant fish suppliers.  I ended up buying about ten cuttlefish to extract the ink and ended up finally finding a live eel in an Asian food market in Adelaide.

 Room set for pix

Fishing the eel out of the tank was extremely dramatic. Several eels made a bid of freedom, slithering along the market floor, as the person serving me, tried his best to get to grips with one of these slippery creatures.  Finally, after much wriggling and squirming, he succeeded. The vendor was ready to give me a live eel in a plastic bag until I told him that I had to fly back to Melbourne with it. I left the shop with a very fresh eel, which I only had to skin. But that is another story.

Eel- top two pieces are the skin

And in those four days that the photo shoot took place, we all worked extremely hard.

Thanks Graeme , Fiona and the friends who come to help.

SAFFRON RISOTTO WITH MUSSELS (Risu cu Zaffaranu e Cozzuli is the Sicilian, Riso con Zafferano e Cozze is the Italian)

Green lipped mussels kept fresh and alive under jets of sea water

I have just returned from a two week stay in the North Island of New Zealand where there seemed to be a public awareness about sustainable fish and sustainable fishing and farming practices. Seafood seemed plentiful and well priced and I found fish sellers that clearly state their support for sustainable fish species and how they only procure stocks from sustainable resources. There was even information on restaurant menus such as line caught snapper, or this fish was farmed in a sustainable way.

 

During my stay I ate many varieties of fish that I had not eaten before – I loved it all.

Green lipped mussels (such as the ones in the photo from The Fish Market in Auckland) were around $3.50 per kilo; I did not spot any on restaurant menus, but maybe this is because they mussels are so common. While I was in New Zealand I stayed in serviced apartments (not that I did much cooking), and on one occasion I bought some and steamed them lightly (just enough to open them) and enjoyed them with some lemon juice.

Green lipped mussel farming in New Zealand is sustainable; the government conducts research and careful monitoring into selective breeding, farming and harvesting methods.

A good way to eat mussels (any type) is with rice. Saffron is used in Sicilian cooking and in this recipe, the rice is simmered in fish stock – the more traditional and older way to cook risotto in Sicily.

INGREDIENTS 
rice, 2 cups of aborio or vialone
fish stock, 6-7 cups
saffron threads, ½-1 small teaspoon
extra virgin olive oil, ½ cup
garlic cloves, 2 chopped finely
mussels, 2 k,
wine, ½ cup, dry white
parsley, ½ cup chopped finely
PROCESSES
Clean the mussels by rubbing them against each other in cold water(or use a plastic scourer). Pull the beards sharply towards the pointy end of the shell.
Heat the oil in a large pan (which can be used to cook both the mussels and the rice), add the garlic and soften.
Add the mussels and the parsley, toss them around in the hot pan, add a splash of wine, cover and cook until they open (about 4-6 minutes). Do not discard any mussels that don’t open – they just need more cooking.
Remove the mussels from the saucepan. Take out half of the mussels from their shells – the mussels with their shells will be used for decoration on top of the rice.
Add about 5 cups of the fish stock and saffron to the same pan and when it reaches boiling point add the rice.
Bring to the boil, cover and simmer over moderate heat, stirring now and again to ensure that the rice does not stick and the stock has been absorbed.
Taste the rice and season with salt if necessary. Add more stock or wine if needed – the rice is done when it’s al dente – just tender, but resistance can still be felt when you bite into it. (The rice will continue to soften).
Stir into the rice the shelled mussels. Place the mussels with the shells on top of the hot rice or gently fold them through the top layer of the hot rice (Italians are never fussy about eating food which is not piping hot).
Leave to rest for a few minutes for the flavours to meld before serving (the rice will also continue to cook and soften slightly).
Sustainable fish display in Auckland Fish Market

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SARSA DI CHIAPPAREDDI (King George Whiting presented with a sauce made with capers and anchovies)

I like to buy local, sustainable fish and my fish vendor tells me that these King George Whiting are from the coastal Gippsland village of Port Welshpool.

The delicate texture of King George Whiting requires careful handling. These fish only need a little cooking, either on a grill or lightly pan-fried over medium to high heat, as I have done in this recipe.

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Usually, I am happy to present the fish just with lemon. However, there may be times when an accompanying sauce for steamed, baked, grilled or fried fish will bring you greater compliments. I particularly like this Sicilian sauce with delicate tasting fish.

The sauce is called sarsa di chiappareddi in Sicilian and it is made with capers and anchovies. The sauce can be made well in advance and therefore can be particularly useful when having guests.

For me it is most essential to use quality, extra virgin, olive oil. This is especially important for cold sauces, – when the cold sauce hits the hot food, the fragrance of the oil will be strongly evident.

I like to use capers that are packed in salt rather than brine. These need to be well rinsed and then soaked for 30-40 minutes to remove the salt. If you are using capers in brine, drain carefully and only use ¼ teaspoon of vinegar.

Use a tall glass or narrow jug or jar.

INGREDIENTS
parsley, ½ cup, cut finely,
wine vinegar, 1 tablespoonful
anchovies, 3-4 cut finely
capers, 1 cup, if using  the salted variety, rinse well and soak to remove salt, as necessary
pepper or chilli flakes, to taste and salt if necessary
extra virgin olive oil, 1 cup
garlic, 1-2 cloves, finely chopped
PROCESSES
Place the oil and the vinegar together and whip with a fork.
Add all of the other ingredients together and using the fork, mix them together.
Rest the sauce for at least one hour to develop the flavours.

Seafood News

The above recipe and photo were published in the November issue of Seafood News, a small, independent monthly publication dedicated to serving the commercial seafood industry. This Melbourne publication is distributed throughout Australia and reaches all sectors of the industry: markets, fishmongers and some restaurants. The publication will have one of my Sicilian fish recipes per issue. So far I have recipes in Aug-Nov issues.

 

 

SUSTAINABLE FISH MENU, Food and Wine Festival

At an event at The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival I was telling a person how I try only to eat sustainable fish.

She could not imagine this – her favourite fish are tuna, swordfish (these fish are overfished), Atlantic salmon and Ocean trout (both are farmed in aquaculture cages and are of conservation concern). She also liked scallops and was surprised to hear about the damaging effects of the way that most scallops are harvested – by seafloor trawling and dredging and these methods damage seafood beds and habitats.

Cooking and eating sustainable fish does not have to be boring. Last week as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival I ate at these two venues.

These are photographs of a few of the sustainable fish dishes I ate at both places.

Cafe Vue at Heide, Heide Museum of Art, 7 Templestowe Road, Bulleen.
this featured a contemporary version of several dishes from Sundays Kitchen: Food and Living at Heide, based on the reminiscences of friends and intimates about the hospitality of John and Sunday Reed at Heide,

(I ate at a number of restaurants during this event, but I remain very impresssed by the food and the fabulous wine list at Cafe Vue at Heide. The first photo (above) is the Tomato Consomme (clear) with a small terrine made from crab and avocado.
The second photo (above) is the Sea Bream with large couscous (heavily flavoured with citrus).

The Terrace @ Royal Botanic Gardens was the venue for the event Imagine a World without Seafood (The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) Sustainable Seafood).

This featured an interactive cooking competition some of Melbourne’s best apprentice chefs showcasing a creative approach to cooking with sustainable seafood.

ACF’ is developing a new and exciting sustainable living initiative making it easy for people to choose sustainable seafood.

The menu focused on specific species of fish in specific regions where sustainable practices are used by the producer. For example the way that most prawns are harvested is by seafloor trawling. The fishery which provided the Western king prawns uses management and harvesting techniques that ensure that the prawns are caught in an ecologically sustainable way.

These photos beginning with the top one are:
Barramundi (Cone Bay) with a Thai salad.

Prawns (Spencer Gulf) with green and yellow mango, pomegranate and avocado guacamole and tamarind aioli.

Tortellini of olive oil braised Barramundi (Cone Bay) with soft herbs and tartare beurre blanc.

Crispy, deep fried Yellow-eye mullet (wild caught in the Coorong) with a chermouala dipping sauce on a bed of rocket. See feature photo.

 

PESCE IN PADELLA (Pan fried fish)

I have just purchased this beautiful print of a Murray cod. It is a dry-point etching, by Clare Whitney, a Melbourne based printmaker and painter.

Murray cod is raised in fish farms and is rare in the wild, but this was not always so.
John Oxley, an explorer of the Murray-Darling basin in inland New South Wales wrote in his journal in 1817:
If however the country itself is poor, the river is rich in the most excellent fish, procurable in the utmost abundance.

Murray cod is Australia’s iconic, freshwater fish, once found naturally thorough-out most of the Murray-Darling River System. It is a native fish, which features strongly both in Aboriginal mythology and Australian folklore, though it is called by different names. It provided food to Aboriginal Australians and early settlers, but later suffered a significant decline due to overfishing and environmental degradation. In the 1950s, annual catches were still above 150,000 tonnes and Australians were proud of this fish – in 1954, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were presented with Murray cod at a State Banquet at Parliament House on their first visit to Australia.

There are many tales told by anglers, who are reputed to have caught enormous fish. Unfortunately, these stories may be true. Murray cod can live for up to a century, grow more than a metre long and weigh more than 100kg (the biggest on record was 1.8m long, weighed 114kg and was over 100 years old).

The major problem the cod face today is the inconsistent supply of water in the Murray-Darling River system, partly due to the prolonged drought and exacerbated by the amount of water taken from the river (regulated by locks, removed for irrigation), which has altered the river flow and the shape of the river. This has resulted in changes of habitat and adverse conditions for breeding.

Fish plate_2057The introduction of redfin perch in the 1950’s (carnivorous predators and competitors), followed by the European carp, and the use of toxic chemicals from farming practices have all compounded the impact on the stocks of Murray cod.

Although different states operated on different premises and priorities some positive strategies were initiated and have been supported by the Australian Government since the early 1980’s to help the cod recover. These include: improved fisheries and environmental management and protection of stocks through fishing regulations; imposed closed seasons for fishing; breeding and release of hatchery-reared fingerlings.

While these approaches have contributed to some increases in numbers in certain parts of the river system, the drought (some are calling it the worst in 1,000 years) is now adding further stresses.
Aquaculture
Murray cod is being successfully grown in pond culture and tank-based re-circulating systems and is regaining the status it deserves as a superb tasting fish. It is difficult to purchase, although it seems to be available in certain restaurants (in Melbourne).

Murray cod is particularly appetizing– baked, pan fried, poached or steamed.

Murray Cod Dreaming
The Ngarrindjeri people of the lower Murray have a Dreamtime legend about Ponde, the great Murray cod that helped form the Murray River and the waterways all the way down to Lake Alexandrina (in the south East of Adelaide in South Australia). Ponde was chased by one of the men from the Ngarrindjeri tribe, but Ponde was so big and fast that when he swam, he carved out the existing little river into a very large waterway known as the River Murray, complete with cliffs and bends. The persuer’s brother- in-law also joined in the chase and when he caught him in Lake Alexandrina he cut Ponde into little pieces.
These became the different fish – mulloway, mullet, bream and others, once plentiful in the Coorong (The Coorong is a unique, long shallow pool of salty water, stretching for over 100 kilometres from the Murray mouth up to Lakes Albert and Alexandrina. – unique for its beauty, its isolation and once, for its abundance of fish and bird life).

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RECIPE: PESCE IN PADELLA (Pan fried fish)
Food cooked in padella, (‘n or `na padedda in Sicilian) is cooked in a fry pan. This is generally the culinary term used for sautéed, shallow frying or pan-frying.

The method is relatively fast and the medium to high heat required is easily controlled. It suits almost any whole fish (river or sea), fillets or cutlets. Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the fish and whether you prefer the fish to be cooked through. I often find that when I use my heavy based frypan instead of my non- stick pan, the cooking is faster, the fish is crisper and the juices left in the pan are more caramelized and tasty.

The original recipe is for river trout (Trout is caught in the Manghisi River near Noto, which is not far from Ragusa). It is cooked with wild fennel, green and black olives and very thin slices of lemon. Fresh thyme is also a strong flavouring and can be (probably needs to be) substituted for the fennel. I have also used fresh dill (more Greek than Italian).

Do buy good quality olives to get the real intended flavour!! Need I also say that there is ‘good salt’ and that ‘freshly ground pepper’ is best.
This method of cooking fish can be used to cook either whole small fish or any fillets or cutlets.

Suitable fish
Murray cod is difficult to get – ask your fish vendor.
Suitable fish: red mullet, mullet, sand whiting, flathead and garfish, trevally, kingfish and albacore tuna.
Murray cod (farmed) and barramundi (grown in a fully closed system of aquaculture or accredited, line wild-caught, snapper if line caught (better choice).
Snapper, blue-eye travalla and mackerel are from the (think twice) category.

See previous post: Where I buy my sustainable fish. Categories from Australia’s Sustainable Seafood guide- www.amcs.org.au .

INGREDIENTS
fish, 1 serve per person (350g each)
green olives, 5 per fish portion, stoned and sliced
black olives or caper berries, 5 per fish portion, stoned and sliced
extra virgin olive oil, 1-2 large tablespoon per fish
salt, pepper or chilli flakes to taste
lemon, 1 slice per fish, sliced thinly, and then quartered

saffron, a pinch – soak in about a tablespoon of water at least 10mins before cooking
herbs: thyme, dill or fennel, to taste

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Wild fennel is used in Sicily. Alternatively use:
• The green feathery part found at the top of the cultivated bulb fennel.
• Bulb fennel cut vertically and very thinly sliced.
• Some crushed fennel seeds (½ teaspoon)

PROCESSES
Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and pan fry the fish, add a little salt. and pepper.
Remove the fish.

Use the same fry pan.  If using fresh fennel sauté it till caramelized and then add
olives, saffron, herbs and lemon slices and heat through.
Return the fish to the pan and toss it around in the hot ingredients for 1 minute and serve.

 

PESCE CON FINOCCHIO E ROSMARINO (Fish with fennel and rosemary)

Wild caught sea barramundiI want to make the most of the fennel while it is in season and have chosen a very simple fish dish using wild caught barramundi.

Rosemary is one of the few herbs which does well in winter and compliments the sweetness of the fennel.

Those of you who shop at the Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne) may recognise the face of the Happy Tuna vendor where I always buy my fish (see earlier post: Seafood – where I buy my sustainable fish ).

One of my favourite fish is wild caught barramundi, often on sale at this stall.

Barramundi is an Aboriginal word meaning river fish with large scales. It can be a truly wonderful, tasting fish and is extremely versatile (it has medium to firm texture and medium oiliness).

Most of the barramundi in Australia is farmed both in sea aquaculture farms and in fully-closed systems in land-based ponds. Some is imported from fisheries and aquaculture farms in Asia. But there are marked differences in taste between fish that has been wild-caught, grown in sea-cages or in land based systems. Of equal importance to me is whether I am buying a fish that is sustainable. The methods of farming and fishing determine the degree of sustainability and the cost.

The David Suzuki Foundation has adopted the definition of sustainable seafood as:
‘Originating from sources, whether fished or farmed that can maintain or increase production in the long term without jeopardizing the structure or function of affected ecosystems’.

Not all fish vendors label the fish to inform consumers of the sources, and for a clearer conscience and better tasting fish, it is important to ask about its source.

For all barramundi grown in sea-cages or imported from fisheries and aquaculture farms in Asia – say no.
Some fully-closed systems (land-based ponds and small-scale tank or pond aquaculture), are sustainable (better choice) but unfortunately I find the fish from land-based aquaculture lacking in character and in texture, and I never buy it.

A small proportion of barramundi are wild-caught and as you’d expect, it is the most expensive, but in my opinion this is by far the better tasting fish. I particularly like the gelatinous skin, which is very distinctive in the wild-caught fish. The wild caught barramundi are from Queensland and the Northern Territory and legislation in each state imposes closures during certain seasons.

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Wild-caught barramundi, especially in small-scale operations, is a better alternative, but in the Australian Marine Conservation Society publication it is (think twice). Some accredited, line wild-caught barramundi is available and is (better choice).

My fish vendor told me that unlike the species grown in cages, the wild caught barramundi has a yellowish tail (look at the photo).

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PESCE CON FINOCCHI

I never go to the market to buy one specific type of fish and for this particular dish there are other fish apart from burramundi which can be used.

Sustainable fish:
Use small whole fish or fillets of the following fish: garfish, whiting and flathead, bream, trevally and Murray cod (great if you can get it) are (better choice).
Blue-eye trevalla, snapper and mackerel (think twice) are also suitable. Blue-eye travella and snapper are (better choice) if line caught.

Fillets of fish benefit from scoring (as do whole fish) – slash the side of the fish that formerly had the skin – a thin layer of membrane remains, and unless it is scored, it can curl during cooking.

INGREDIENTS
fish, (estimate 1-1.2 kg for 6 people)
fennel, 2 large
water or white wine, 1 cup
extra virgin olive oil, ¾ cup
salt and freshly ground pepper,
rosemary, fresh sprigs

PROCESSES
Clean the fish: scale, gut and wipe dry (my fish vendor always does this for me). Use a sharp knife to make shallow cuts in the outside of the whole fish – slash the fish but leave whole This helps the seasonings and flavours of marinade (herbs, oil etc.) to penetrate the flesh. The only time I do not score the skin is when I bake a fish in salt crust because I do not want the salt to enter into the flesh.
Insert little sprigs of rosemary in the slashes, pour on a little oil, cover and set aside.

Prepare the fennel:
Remove the fennel tops from the bulbs and discard. Trim away any bruised or discoloured portion of the bulbs. Cut the bulbs length-wise (vertically) into thin slices less than 1cm thick.
Add the sliced fennel to a pan with hot olive oil and sauté for 5-10 minutes before adding seasoning and about a cup of water or wine.
Cover the pan and cook on a low to medium heat for about 20 minutes or until the fennel is wilted and soft. You may need to add a little more liquid as it cooks.
Increase the heat to evaporate any liquid left in the pan – this will result with the fennel cooking in the left over oil and turning a deep gold colour.
Add freshly ground pepper, turn the heat down to medium and push the fennel to one side to make room for the fish in the pan.
Put the fish in the pan, sprinkle with a little more salt and freshly ground pepper, and spoon some of the oil in the pan over it (or add a splash of fresh, extra virgin olive oil).
Add more rosemary, cover and cook for 6-7 minutes, turn the fish once and baste again. Cook for another few minutes or so, depending on the thickness of the fish.
Transfer the fish to a serving dish, remove the rosemary and place the fennel and juices over the fish and serve.

sandi's fish plates

Barramundi Dreaming

The barramundi – a highly prized source of food for Aboriginal Australians – plays a large part in Dreamtime mythology. There are several Aboriginal legends about barramundi as told by the different tribes in the Northern Territory. This is one of them.
How the barramundi came to have spines on its back.

This is a very moving legend and tells of two young lovers. The girl was betrothed to an older man (according to traditional law) and so they escaped while the tribe was engaged in a corroboree. The young couple took many spears to use on their pursuers while they ran through the countryside to the sea and succeeded in eluding them for a long time, but eventually ran out of spears. Knowing that their followers would spear them, they threw themselves into the sea, where they turned themselves into barramundi. Some of the spears, however, struck them as they fell, and that is how the barramundi comes to have spines on its back.
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SARDINE, CRUDE E CONDITE (Sardines – raw and marinaded)

Where would Sicilian food be without fish?

Sicily is an island, and a Catholic one at that, where the people were obliged to fast and abstain — refrain from eating meat — on certain days, mainly Lent and on Fridays.Catholics are no longer required not to eat meat on Fridays but Sicilians eat a lot of fish.
One very popular fish is the sardine, still relatively cheap in Sicily and easily available. The photograph was taken in the Palermo market in December 2008. At that time 4 euros were about $8.00 Australian.
 Sardines boxed
For example you cannot go to Sicily and not eat Pasta con le sarde. There are many regional variations of this sauce, often called by the same name, but the most famous is from Palermo made with wild fennel, pine nuts, saffron and currants.
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Sardines are perfect on a BBQ, and baked, but Sicilians also like them crude (raw) e conzate (and dressed), crude e condite in Italian. Although they are called raw, they are cooked by the lemon juice in the marinade.

Sardines are sustainable, and a good choice if you are concerned about the environment. Marinaded sardines make a great antipasto and lose that strong fishy taste that those people-who-do-not- like sardines hate.

When I first came to Australia we were unable to buy sardines, now they have become very popular (similar to squid, both were used for bait!).

The sardines must be fresh, freshly cleaned and filleted with no head, central spine or innards. Begin your preparations one day ahead.

INGREDIENTS

sardines, 1-3 per person
lemons, juice of 3-4
salt, pepper
garlic, 3 cloves, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
parsley and fresh oregano, ¾ cup, cut finely.

 

PROCESSES

Arrange the fish in one layer on a plate or wide vessel and pour the juice of the lemons on top (this lemon juice will be discarded).
Seal with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3-6 hours. They are ready when they have turned almost white.
Drain the juice well. I use a colander and then quickly dry the fish on a paper towel.
Arrange the fillets in a single layer on a large plate.
Sprinkle the fish with herbs, garlic and salt and pepper.
Dress with the extra virgin olive oil, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate again for about an hour until ready to serve.

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