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Cooking Fishing Fishing/Angling ST RECIPE SECTION SUMMER EDITION Sydney Seafood School

Serving Raw Fish

Serving Raw Fish

Raw Fish -Some guidelines from Sydney Seafood School

Not all ‘cooking’, or at least all seafood dishes, need involve heat. Australian seafood is so fresh and of such good quality that it can often be eaten raw in a number of very simple preparations. The most important thing when serving seafood raw, or rare, is to ensure that you buy sashimi-grade seafood.

Very fresh seafood suitable for eating raw is called ‘sashimi-grade’. It’s caught and handled in such a way that peak freshness and quality are maintained. Fish are line-caught, landed onto a mattress (to minimise bruising) and killed instantly by brain-spiking (ike jime). This prevents the fish from struggling and releasing stress hormones and helps keep the body temperature low. The fish is then bled immediately, removing heat and waste products, and put into an ice slurry to drop the body temperature as close to 0ºC as quickly as possible. Ideally sashimi-grade fish should be purchased on the day of consumption; after more than 24 hours in a domestic fridge, while it will still be premium quality, it won’t be at peak freshness and should be cooked rather than served raw. Sashimi-grade Tuna, Salmon, Kingfish and Swordfish are all commonly available, but look out for other varieties including Snapper, Whiting and Garfish.

Tips for Working with Raw Seafood

  • Freshness is paramount; use only sashimi-grade seafood, kept well chilled; and cook any leftovers – don’t serve them raw the following day.
  • Observe good hygiene, wash hands before starting and after handling other ingredients, and clean utensils, knives and boards between ingredients to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Don’t serve straight from the fridge, let seafood rest at room temperature for 15-30 minutes before serving, as flavour is dulled by low temperatures.
  • Keep it simple, let the seafood be the star, don’t overwhelm it with other flavours, just 1 or 2 colourful, premium-quality garnishes, such as good extra virgin olive oil, salt flakes, freshly ground pepper, bright little micro-cress, or fresh citrus segments.

Raw Seafood Preparations:

  • Sashimi, the most common form of raw seafood, is available ready sliced from good fishmongers; Tuna and Salmon are the most common but ask about other varieties. Serve it simply with soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger or drape over sushi rice to make nigiri-zushi.
  • Crudo, simply meaning ‘raw’, is popular on menus all over Italy, the most common form (sometimes incorrectly called ‘carpaccio’) is paper-thin slices of raw seafood (Swordfish and Kingfish are popular) drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of salt flakes and grind of pepper.
  • Tartare (again a take on a popular raw meat dish, steak tartare) is finely chopped fish usually served in a mound on a plate with melba toast and a simple garnish or two such as chopped capers or gherkins, citrus segments or tiny salad leaves; Salmon or Trout work well, but so do white fish such as Snapper.
  • Raw oysters freshly shucked need no accompaniment beyond a squeeze of lemon or dash of Tabasco, but they can also be dressed up with any vinaigrette-style dressing combining a range of vinegars and oils.
  • Seared fish is a great introduction for people who aren’t sure about eating it ‘raw’. Remove fish from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking, so it’s not icy cold in the centre. Brush with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper (or any other seasoning you like), then pop into a very hot pan for just a few seconds on each side, or longer if you’d like it cooked a little more. Remove from heat, rest for a few minutes then slice to show the lovely effect of crisp, browned exterior and glistening rare interior. Great as the feature ingredient in a warm salad, sliced with a dipping sauce as an entrée or as a main course with salad or vegetables.

    Oysters with Wasabi Dressing

  • Wasabi is now being grown in Tasmania, so fresh wasabi root is becoming more widely available, if you can find some, use finely grated wasabi root instead of wasabi paste.


    ½ cup mirin (see notes)
    ¼ cup rice vinegar
    3 teaspoons wasabi paste
    1 Lebanese cucumber, seeded and finely diced
    36 freshly shucked oysters
    1½ tablespoons pickled ginger


    Combine mirin, vinegar and wasabi and toss through cucumber.

    Lift oysters out of their shells, divide cucumber salad between shells and place oysters on top.

    Garnish with a little pickled ginger and serve.

    Notes:Mirin is a sweet Japanese fortified rice wine used for cooking. True mirin (labelled ‘hon mirin’) contains alcohol, so what is available in supermarkets and Asian grocery stores, and normally used, is non-alcoholic ‘mirin seasoning’.

    Alternative species:Steamed Saucer Scallops.

    Oysters with Shallot Vinaigrette

    A vinaigrette flavoured with shallot is a classic dressing for oysters. Use a mild, slightly sweet white wine vinegar like the chardonnay vinegars sold under the LiraH and Forum brands, as a stronger vinegar will overpower the delicate flavour of the oysters.


    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoons chardonnay vinegar (see above)
    Salt flakes and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
    2 golden shallots, very finely diced
    Rock salt, for serving
    12 freshly shucked Sydney rock oysters
    Chervil sprigs, for garnishing


    Whisk together oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and stir in shallot.

    Arrange rock salt on a platter, place oysters on top and garnish plate with chervil.

    Top oysters with shallot mixture and serve.

    Alternative species:Native Oyster, Pacific Oyster, steamed Saucer Scallop.


    Tuna Tartare

    This simple recipe is a great way to use up the off-cuts of sashimi Tuna after making sushi. It’s also a gentle introduction to raw fish for those who aren’t too sure and, if the tartare is spread on the baguette slices, it makes a great canapé.


    200g sashimi-grade Tuna, finely diced (see notes)
    ½ small Lebanese cucumber, seeded and finely diced
    1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
    1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
    2 teaspoons small salted capers, rinsed and dried
    2 tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream
    Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    50g wild or baby rocket, washed and dried
    A little extra virgin olive oil
    1 lemon, quartered
    12 slices of toasted baguette, to serve


    Combine Tuna with cucumber, parsley, chives, capers, crème fraîche, salt and pepper and stir gently to combine. Cover and chill.

    Toss the rocket with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil and arrange on one side of each plate. Place a neat scoop of Tuna mixture beside the rocket, sprinkle with salt and serve with a lemon wedge and slices of toast on the side.

    Notes:Sashimi-grade fish is normally sold trimmed, if it is not, trim off any skin and dark muscle before dicing.

Cold-smoked Salmon Cigars with Horseradish Cream

If fresh horseradish is unavailable, use a prepared horseradish cream available from delicatessens (European brands are generally best). Sour cream or thick natural yoghurt can be substituted for the crème fraîche.


1 cup crème fraîche
1 tablespoon freshly grated horseradish
1 tablespoon small salted capers, rinsed and dried
500g cold-smoked Salmon
1 bunch chives (about 60 chives)


Combine crème fraîche, horseradish and capers. Spread each slice of smoked Salmon with a little of the mixture. Place 2 chives in the centre of each slice and roll up.

Tie a chive around the centre of each roll and trim the ends.

Alternative species:Cold-smoked Ocean Trout.

Swordfish Crudo/Carpaccio


Dishes such as this are often called ‘carpaccio’, which is raw beef drizzled with a lemony mayonnaise named for the brilliant reds and whites common in the paintings of Renaissance artist Vittore Carpaccio. As raw fish is rarely the bright red of Carpaccio’s paintings, similar dishes made with seafood are more correctly called ‘crudo’ (Italian for ‘raw’).


1 x 600g piece sashimi-grade Swordfish (see notes)
2 tablespoons lemon-infused olive oil
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 punnet micro herbs, snipped (see notes)


Wrap fish tightly in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for 60 minutes to firm up before slicing.

Slice the fish as finely as possible, using a very sharp knife or slicing machine. Arrange slices in a single layer on plates. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt flakes and a good grind of black pepper and garnish with micro herbs.

Notes:Sashimi-grade fish is normally sold trimmed, if it is not, trim off any skin, dark muscle or bloodline, before slicing it.

Micro herbs and cress, growing in punnets, are available at some greengrocers and online. They keep, refrigerated and loosely covered with a damp cloth, for several days; if unavailable use the smallest leaves on a bunch of herbs or tear larger leaves into small pieces.

Alternative species:Atlantic Salmon, Snapper, Tuna, Yellowtail Kingfish.

Snapper Tartare with Ruby Grapefruit

This is a delicious introduction for people uncertain about eating raw fish, as Snapper has a mild taste and the herbs and citrus provide most of the flavour. The most important thing is to use spanking fresh fish.


1 baguette
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
400g sashimi-grade Snapper fillet, skin off, bones removed (see notes)
2 golden shallots, finely diced
1 bulb baby fennel, finely diced
1 Lebanese cucumber, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon snipped chives
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon finely chopped French tarragon (see notes)
1 teaspoon finely chopped chervil
1 teaspoon finely chopped dill
1 ruby grapefruit, segmented and diced (see notes)
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
18 sprigs chervil, to garnish


Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Using a serrated knife cut the baguette on the diagonal into thin slices. Brush with a little olive oil, spread in a single layer on a baking tray and bake for 6-8 minutes, until crisp and lightly coloured. Allow to cool on the tray (see notes).

Cut fish into 5mm dice, place in a large bowl, add ¼ cup olive oil, shallots, fennel, cucumber, chives, parsley, tarragon, chervil, dill, grapefruit, salt and pepper and mix gently.

Spoon mixture onto toasted baguette, drizzle with remaining olive oil, sprinkle with salt and top with a chervil sprig.

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

If French tarragon is not available, omit it, do not replace with tasteless Russian tarragon.

To segment the grapefruit: using a sharp knife cut off the top and bottom to reveal the flesh, stand it upright and cut down the sides to remove all skin and white pith. Holding the grapefruit in your hand over a bowl, cut down either side of each of the membranes to remove the segments. Drop them into the bowl and, when they are all removed, squeeze the remaining membrane over the bowl to collect the juice. Pomelo, blood orange or other citrus fruit can be substituted for the ruby grapefruit.

Toasted baguette slices can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks.

Alternative species:Atlantic Salmon, Tuna, Yellowtail Kingfish.

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