Sydney Times

Cooking ST FOOD & RESTAURANT GUIDE ST RECIPE SECTION Sydney Seafood School

Cured and Pickled Seafood

Gravlax

‘Gravad-lax’ means ‘buried Salmon’ and refers to the ancient practice of wrapping salted fish in bark and burying it in the cold Scandinavian soil to preserve it through winter. Modern recipes often add a splash of spirits to the traditional cure of salt, sugar, white pepper and dill.

Ingredients:

1 small sashimi-grade Salmon, filleted, skin off, bones removed
2 tablespoons chopped dill
Pumpernickel bread, to serve

Curing Mixture 
⅓ cup castor sugar
⅓ cup salt flakes
1 tablespoon freshly ground white peppercorns
⅓ cup finely chopped dill

Sweet Mustard & Dill Sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sweet mustard
1 tablespoon castor sugar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
100ml vegetable oil
¼ cup finely chopped dill

Method:

Make Curing Mixture: combine all ingredients, mixing well.

Make Sweet Mustard & Dill Sauce: combine mustards, castor sugar and vinegar. Slowly whisk in vegetable oil until you achieve a mayonnaise-like consistency, then stir in dill. Refrigerate until needed.

Trim off and discard Salmon belly flaps and remove any remaining pin bones with fish tweezers. Put a large sheet of plastic wrap on a clean work surface. Dry fish well with paper towel and place fillets on plastic wrap, skin side down.

Press half the curing mixture onto the flesh side of each fillet. Place one fillet on top of the other matching head to head, so the flesh sides are touching. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Put in a shallow baking tray and weight with a board topped by tins. Refrigerate for 36-48 hours, turning every 12 hours and draining off any liquid that seeps out.

Gently scrape or brush off curing mix, pat dry with paper towel. Press fresh dill onto flesh.

Serve thinly sliced with pumpernickel bread and Sweet Mustard & Dill Sauce.

Alternative species:Ocean Trout (sea-raised Rainbow Trout).

Ceviche

Acidic marinades denature the protein in fish in a similar way to heat, turning the flesh opaque and softening it; this method of ‘cooking’ seafood is popular in many countries. In Central and South America it’s called ceviche, while a similar dish, often with the addition of coconut cream, is known by various names throughout the Pacific Islands, including Fijian kokoda. As the seafood isn’t actually being cooked, it is important to make sure it’s sashimi-grade, which is the freshest possible. If you have time, it’s great to cut tortillas into strips and deep-fry or bake them yourself; if not, commercially available ones are a good alternative (we like Mission brand), or even corn chips, just make sure they aren’t flavoured! Ceviche also makes a great taco filling.

Ingredients:

2 baby cos lettuce
1 x 600g piece sashimi-grade Grey Morwong fillet, skin off, bones removed (see notes)
½ cup strained lime juice
1 medium red chilli, seeded and very finely chopped
½ yellow capsicum, seeded and finely diced
½ red onion, finely diced
6 green onions, finely sliced
¼ cup coriander leaves, torn
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
Salt flakes, to taste
Crisp tortilla strips, for serving (see above)

Method:

Remove 12 well-shaped leaves from toward the centre of the lettuces, wash, pat dry and set aside, reserving the rest of the lettuce for another use.

Discard any dark flesh from the fish and cut into a fine dice. Place in a shallow bowl, pour over lime juice, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 8 hours, stirring frequently to ensure all pieces spend time submerged in the juice.

Meanwhile, combine chilli, capsicum, red and green onions, coriander and tomato and refrigerate until needed.

Drain fish and stir it through the salad, taste and add salt.

Arrange lettuce leaves on a serving platter, arrange ceviche beside them and serve with tortilla strips on the side.

Notes:Sashimi-grade fish is normally sold trimmed, if it isn’t, trim off any skin and dark muscle and check for bones before cutting it.

Alternative species:Other Morwongs, Blue-Eye Trevalla, Snapper, Scallop, Yellowtail Kingfish.

Salted Blue-eye Trevalla ‘Baccalà’

This way of preparing baccalà is traditional to Venice, where it’s called Baccalà Mantecato. Imported baccalà, salted cod, a classic European ingredient, is available from fishmongers and some delicatessens, but needs to be soaked for at least 24 hours in several changes of water to remove the excess salt. This alternative uses salted blue-eye trevalla, which saves time. Blue-eye trevalla used to be referred to as blue-eye cod, because the thick white meat does resemble the cod that is so popular in the northern hemisphere.

Ingredients:

1 x 750g Blue-Eye Trevalla fillet, skin off, bones removed
½ cup coarse salt
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs thyme
1 clove garlic
250ml milk
250ml extra virgin olive oil
Ciabatta, thinly sliced and toasted, for serving
Small olives, for serving

Method:

Spread half the salt on a large plate, place fish on top and spread remaining salt over the fish. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours, turn fish, cover and refrigerate for another 3 hours. Wash off the salt.

Place fish in a large saucepan cover well with cold water, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork. Strain and, when cool enough to handle, flake into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk.

Meanwhile, place bay leaf, thyme, garlic and milk in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from heat, cover and set aside to keep warm.
Place olive oil in a small saucepan and heat to around 70°C, it should be hot but not sizzling. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

Discard bay leaf and thyme from milk and crush garlic into a paste. Add garlic paste to the fish. Turn electric mixer onto medium speed, slowly pour a little milk into the bowl, then a little oil, then more milk, then more oil, repeating until all the milk and oil has been used. Increase speed to high and beat for a further 2 minutes or so, until the mixture slaps against the side of the bowl.

Transfer to a bowl and serve with toast and olives.

Alternative species:Ling, Snapper.

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