Fish can be a bit intimidating to home cooks; it’s one of those foods that many people order when they go out to a restaurant or pick up from the local fish and chip shop, because they’re not quite sure what to do with it at home.
Well, my friends, it’s time to face your fears and learn how to do it right. Fish is packed full of protein and omega 3s; it’s great baked, fried or thrown into a curry. Dress it up with a great tomato-y sauce, or enjoy it ‘nude’ with a squeeze of lemon.
This is a great choice for homemade fish and chips. Coat fillets in seasoned flour, heat up some oil/butter in a pan and add your fillets (skin side down) when the pan is hot. Flip it over after 3 or 4 minutes and give it an extra couple of minutes on the other side. This is perfect with oven-baked potato or sweet potato wedges and a dollop of good aioli.
If you want to be a bit fancy at your next dinner party, serve up a whole snapper. Score the skin, give it a little rosemary and garlic massage, wrap him up in foil and bake for about an hour (if you’re after a Mediterranean vibe, wrap it up with some sliced tomato and basil). Snapper is quite delicate, so if you’re panfrying fillets, be gentle.
This is a great multi-purpose fish. Bake it, grill it, barbecue it. Peter at Theo and Sons suggests wrapping fillets in foil or baking paper with a mixture of garlic, herbs and olive oil and whacking it in a 180° oven for about 20 minutes. Unwrap it and pop it under the grill for a few extra minutes and serve with a squeeze of lemon to serve.
Don’t be scared by this tentacled guy - he's armless! While the cleaning process may a seem a little gruesome (your fishmonger can do this for you), you’ll be rewarded by gorgeous, tender, delicious calamari! Cut it into rings, dust with seasoned flour and fry in a very hot pan for 2-3 minutes (it’s ready when it turns slightly golden – no more, no less). You can also stuff the tube with rice and tomato and bake it for around half an hour.
You could pick up a live lobster from the market and ‘prepare’ it yourself at home, but you risk having a Julie & Julia moment, which looks quite terrifying. Best to get your fishmonger to take care of the dirty work for you (they need about an hours notice). Crayfish meat is best enjoyed straight out of the shell, with a drizzle of good quality olive oil, lemon and a sprinkle of oregano. Keep it simple.
Really, no excuse is needed when it comes to buying oysters. Sure, an oyster entrée is great for a fancy dinner party, but they’re also a great post-work snack in your backyard with a beer or a glass of wine (decadent, I know, but you’re worth it!). Ask your fishmonger what his best oysters are (they vary in quality, depending on the time of year, but there are always good ones to be had). Oysters are great au naturel, with a squeeze of lemon and a grind of black pepper. Yum!
Thanks so much to the fine folk at Theo and Sons Fresh Seafood at Prahran Market for their time and help on this piece.
Photography by Sarah Parr