For many Australians, summer is a time of seafood. As the days grow longer and the sun gets higher in the sky, people’s tastebuds turn to the sea. A plate of prawns, scallops, lobster, mussels, salmon or white fish washed down with chilled white wine or a glass of bubbles is a must for many festive revellers. We spoke to some of Australia’s top chefs about how they are preparing their seafood this season.
1. Goldfinch, Brisbane
In the heart of Brisbane is Goldfinch, an airy, light-filled space away from the city’s hustle and bustle, a restaurant with a focus on Mediterranean cooking. It’s part of the Pullman Hotel, where Rahul Raj is the Executive Chef. “We embrace the easy dining style of the Mediterranean cuisines with a focus on fresh produce,” he says. One of his classic dishes is chili crab linguine. He takes crab claw meat and tosses it through hot olive oil, chili, garlic, finely shaved fennel and heirloom tomato, folds this through al dente linguine, and tops the dish with deep-fried soft-shell crab. Rahul also uses the classic Spanish romesco sauce but makes it with Australian macadamia nuts and serves this with pan-seared barramundi and Israeli couscous. Come Christmas Day, Rahul is pulling out all stops with a cold seafood feast featuring fresh oysters, prawns, crabs and Moreton Bay bugs. “It will be an exceptional festive meal,” he adds.
Visit Goldfinch’s website to view their menu and make a booking.
2. Noosa Beach House, Sunshine Coast
A little further north on the Sunshine Coast, Noosa Beach House chef Peter Kuruvita celebrates his Sri Lankan roots with a menu heavy with seafood. One of his bestsellers is Sri Lankan snapper curry using snapper from Mooloolaba and a recipe he learned from his grandmother. “It has potato and beetroot dumplings, chickpeas, raita and other condiments. We cook fillets of around 240 grams skin side down with a pan on the top to keep the fillet flat for two to three minutes. It goes into a hot oven for a further three minutes. We hit it with a dollop of butter, baste it in the fat, turn it and rest it.” Peter dresses the perfectly crisp-skinned fillet with a mild curry sauce at the table. “Australian seafood is sometimes so fresh I swear it winks at me. In Sri Lanka refrigeration is still optional in some places so the fish is cooked in the curry. We don’t need to do that with the quality of our fish.” Peter is also a fan of quality frozen products. “A quality prawn, snap frozen at sea, is a whole lot better than a ‘fresh’ one that has been languishing in water in a fridge for a few days,” he says. “People love seeing seafood on a menu,” says the affable chef. “It is our job to let people know what is in season, what’s about, and what’s good. The seafood in Australia is so good that it would be a crime not to treat it with respect.”
Visit Noosa Beach House’s website to view their menu and make a booking.
3. Auterra, Melbourne
Down in Melbourne, Clinton McIver is using a blend of traditional techniques and modern methods to prepare his stunning snack menu at his madly popular wine bar Auterra in suburban Armadale. He takes scallops on the half shell and cures them for 90 minutes with yuzu – Japanese lime – flavoured salt, some yuzu oil and finishes with dessert lime that has been dried and powdered. One of his other simple dishes is mussels steamed in their shell and then let cool to absorb their own juices. While this is happening, he makes mayonnaise with rye bread. A dollop of this sits under the mussel, which has been wrapped in fermented radicchio and then topped with dried duck, ham and scallop XO sauce. He also makes a prawn sandwich which sees extra-large prawns brined, dried, breaded in panko and deep-fried. These are served in a milk bun with lettuce mustard leaves and a big dollop of mayo enriched with dried kimchi. “Diners love having several seafood options on the menu,” says Clinton. “And when it is good seafood, you don’t have to do much with it.”
Visit Auterra’s website to view their menu and make a booking.
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