Seafood risotto

I love making risotto and I usually make it Sunday night to use up vegies from the fridge. I put on some good music pour myself a glass of wine and get lost in the moment whilst stirring and caring for this dish. There are a few tips to make your risotto creamy and tender every time. Enjoy!

  • use short-grained round or semi-round rice; among the best rices for making risotti are Arborio, Vialone Nano, and Carnaroli.
  • never wash the rice as this will wash off the starch that gives it a creamy consistency.
  • Use gently simmering stock, adding cold stock lowers the temperature of the rice which can make your risotto gluey.
  • Before you add your stock, make sure you coat the rice in the oil and cook until the grains appear glassy.
  • Don’t let the rice burn at this stage otherwise the starch won’t release and you end up with a playdoh/glug consistency.
  • Never add the stock all at once, add the stock one ladleful at a time as this method releases the starch from the rice giving you a creamy risotto.
  • Risotto likes TLC so never leave it bubbling away on its own, stir with love.

Seafood Risotto

serves 4

1 cup dry white wine

500g black mussels, cleaned

1.25L home made fish stock (recipe on FISHline)

pinch saffron threads

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

500g prawns, peeled deveined and leaving tails in tact

2 squid, cleaned and cut into rings

1 brown onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 cups arborio rice

1 400gm can crushed Italian tomatoes

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

2 tablespoons cfinely chopped chives

Pour the wine in a large pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, then add mussels and cover. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until almost all shells have opened. Strain, reserving liquid, then remove mussels from shells and set aside. Place reserved liquid, fish stock and saffron in a pan, bring to the boil, reduce heat and keep at a simmer over low heat.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon oil in a large, heavy-based frypan over medium heat. Add prawns and cook for 2-3 minutes, turning, until cooked through. Remove to a bowl and set aside. Increase heat to high. Add the squid and cook turning, for a couple of minutes or until just opaque (creamy milky colour) and almost cooked through. Set aside with prawns.

Reduce heat to medium and melt remaining  butter with remaining oil. Cook the onion and garlic stirring, for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the rice and stir for 1-2 minutes to coat the grains. Increase heat to medium-low, add stock a ladleful at a time, allowing each to be absorbed before adding the next. Continue stirring constantly, for about 15-20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed or until rice is cooked but still firm to the bite. . (You may not need all the stock.)

Stir in the seafood, tomatoes, parsley and chives. Season and cook for 1 minute until heated through. Serve straight away.





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Curry in a hurry

Thai-style Red Curry of Mahi Mahi & Oyster Mushrooms
from FISHline

Autumn weather is here with a bit of chill in the air which is a great time for a curry. Making a fish curry is faster than going to your local Thai take-away and more satisfying. Big tip is to know your red curry paste, if it is a hot paste you wouldn’t use 1/2 cup as this recipe states.

I loved sharing this on ABC radio’s The Big Fish show this morning. It is a recipe from Sydney Fish Market free consumer advisory service, FISHline. Check it out online for more delicious recipes, cooking tips, species information and more. Enjoy!

Thai-style Red Curry of Mahi Mahi & Oyster Mushrooms

Thai cookery is as diverse as the array of ingredients used; but what really defines it is the balance of hot, salty, sweet and sour flavours.

Serves 6

800g mahi mahi steaks, skin off
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon coconut cream (see notes)
½ cup red curry paste (see notes)
100g oyster mushrooms, sliced
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon palm sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
3 kaffir lime leaves, very finely shredded (see notes)
1 lime, juiced
1 cup coriander leaves
Steamed jasmine rice, to serve
2 limes, cut into wedges

Cut fish into bite-sized chunks.

Heat a wok or large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the vegetable oil and coconut cream and stir for a minute. Add the curry paste and cook for a few minutes until oil rises to the top and it smells fragrant.

Add the fish and toss well to coat in the curry paste, add mushrooms, coconut milk, palm sugar and fish sauce, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 3-5 minutes, until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Stir the lime juice and most of the kaffir lime leaves through, garnish with remaining kaffir lime leaves and serve with steamed rice.
Notes: If you use a good brand of coconut milk (such as Ayam) you should be able to use the thick coconut cream that settles at the top of the can to fry the curry paste. Some canned coconut milk may not separate into a thick ‘cream’ on top with a more liquid ‘milk’ below, if this is the case, use canned coconut cream or 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to fry the curry paste. Use a good commercial red curry paste such as Simon Johnson’s, Christine Manfield’s, Neil Perry’s or Charmaine Solomon’s. If using an Asian curry paste, be aware that it may be stronger and you may need to reduce the quantity by up to half. Kaffir lime leaves are available from fruit and vegetable shops; they’re usually joined in pairs, 1 lime leaf equals 1 pair.

Alternative Species: Mackerel, morwong, striped marlin, tuna, yellowtail kingfish.

© Sydney Fish Market 2010

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Gotta love a flathead…

Beer battered flathead

Fish and chips is the perfect takeway when you are by the seaside but finding a great fish and chip shop is no easy task. The fish should be fresh, the batter to be light and crispy and the chips to be thick and crunchy.

To make sure you get what your after, making this at home is not as hard as it looks, all you need is fresh fish, flour and cold, cold beer. I love to use flathead fillets but you can use snapper, bream, whiting or morwong or really what ever you have caught or bought would be great to batter. Enjoy!

Beer battered flathead and chips with tartare sauce 

serves 4

4 medium Desiree potatoes (Desiree), unpeeled cut into wedges

2 tbs olive oil

2 tbs chopped rosemary

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted

1 1/2 cups cold beer

Vegetable or canola oil, to deep-fry

8 small  flathead fillets (or other boneless white fish)

Lemon wedges, to serve

Green salad leaves, to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Place potato on tray. Drizzle with olive oil sprinkle with rosemary leaves and season with salt and pepper. Cook in oven, turning occasionally, for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, when the wedges are halfway through cooking, place the flour in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Make a well in the centre of the flour and gradually add the cold beer. Gradually whisk in the beer until batter is smooth being careful not to overmix.

Heat oil in a deep saucepan or wok to 190°C over high heat (when oil is ready a cube of bread will turn golden brown in 10 seconds or use the handle of a wooden spoon – see tips).

Pat fish fillets dry and coat fish with  beer batter, drain off excess and cook in batches in hot oil for 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat with remaining fish and batter, reheating oil between batches.

Divide fish and wedges among serving plates. Season with sea salt flakes.

If you want that take away feeling wrap them up in butcher paper and serve with tartare sauce, salad and lemon wedges and of course a nice cold beer.


  • If you don’t have a deep fryer, a wide, shallow wok is ideal for deep-frying.
  • don’t overcrowd your pan, make sure it is the right temperature. Place the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil and if bubbles appear immediately around the handle its ready.
  • This recipe’s batter is also good with other seafood, such as prawns, or vegies such as zucchini flowers. For variety,sprinkle the szechuan mix from the salt and pepper squid recipe over the cooked fish. Yum!
  • Cooled leftover deep-frying oil can be strained through a fine sieve and reused a further 1 to 2 times. Store in the cool part of your pantry.
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G it up with ginger

If you are looking for a delicious dessert or a zingy main dish using the versatile ginger then check out the latest issue of ABC Organic Gardener magazine to grab the recipes and Phils tips on how to harvest your home-grown organic ginger.

Pear, fig & ginger upside-down cake with ginger syrup
Photo: John Downs

Chargrilled ginger pork cutlets with Asian salad and lemon ginger dressing
Photo: John Downs

Of course there is so much more in the magazine. Peter Cundall shares his expertise on  growing pears or learn how to make your own apple cider and how easy it is to grow Asian Greens. Enjoy!

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Seafood Easter Feast

Yasoo! Its Easter and when I am planning an Easter feast I am always drawn to the Greek flavours. Lamb is a traditional dish to serve at a Greek Easter feast but I am staying in the ocean with my menu this weekend. Enjoy!

Seafood Platter

Seafood platter piled with oysters served with salmon roe and a squeeze of lemon. Cooked prawns, lobster, crabs or bugs and served with wedges of lemon and lime, crusty  bread and flavoured mayonnaise. You can even pick up a sushi and sashimi platter. Serve fried Whitebait to give your platter a special Greek Easter boost.

Flavoured Mayonnaise

Lime Mayonnaise

Mix 1 cup S&W Mayonnaise with 1 tablespoon lime juice and lime zest

Aioli Mayonnaise

Mix 1 cup S&W Mayonnaise with 4 cloves garlic, ½ bunch finely chopped chives and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

Wasabi Mayonnaise

Mix 1 cup S&W Mayonnaise with 1-2 tablespoons wasabi paste

Chilli Mayonnaise

Mix 1 cup S&W Mayonnaise with 2 tablespoons Sweet Chilli Sauce

Fried Whitebait

Serves 4

 ½ cup plain flour

Salt and pepper

500g whitebait

lemon wedges to serve

Oil for deep frying

Combine flour, salt and pepper and lightly coat whitebait. Shake gently to remove any excess flour.

Heat oil to 180C and cook whitebait for 2-3 minutes. Do not overcrowd pan.

Drain on paper towels and place onto a serving plate with lemon wedges and serve with the seafood platter.




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Salt and pepper

Salt & Pepper Squid

There is a very good reason that salt and pepper are always together, they are two very simple ingredients that can make a dish go from good to great.

But of course when you add a third spice called szechwan you have your taste buds bopping up and down. The combination of three of these spices make up this salt and pepper squid mix.

I also use this mix to sprinkle over steak or a way to zush up a beer battered flat head or use prawns or calamari rings instead. Have a  play. Enjoy!

Salt and Pepper Squid

Serves 4 as an entree

1kg cleaned squid, (open the squid hoods and score the inside (shiny side) with a criss-cross pattern using the tip of a sharp knife, careful not to cut right through. Cut the squid into bite-sized pieces)

1 cup tapioca flour (or cornflour or rice flour)

1 tablespoon rock salt

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 tablespoon szechwan pepper

3 egg whites, lightly whisked

vegetable oil, for deep frying

lime wedges to serve

Dry roast spices salt and both peppers in a pan over a low heat until salt starts to turn golden and spices fragrant. Place into a mortar and pestle and cool. Once cool grind with the mortar and pestle to a fine consistency.

Place the flour and spice mixture in a large bowl. In batches, dip the squid into the egg whites and then into the flour mix and toss well to lightly coat.

Heat oil in a wok to 180 degrees Celsius and deep fry squid, in batches for 1-2 minutes or until golden. Drain on paper towels. Serve with lime wedges.

Tip: Szechwan pepper is the dried berries from the prickly ash bush. It has a slight tangy heat to it and leaves a fizzy sensation on your tongue. You can buy swechuan pepper at any good delis or Asian supermarkets.

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Out of Africa for Easter

Juls @ Sydney Fish Market

Easter is around the corner and if you are looking for a dish to feed your family or friends try this Seafood Tagine. You don’t have to have a tagine dish you can use a deep frying pan with a lid. Enjoy!

Seafood Tagine

Serves 6


1/2 onion, finely diced
1 bunch coriander
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons turmeric

Pinch each of cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt
100mls lemon juice
250ml extra virgin olive oil

2 stalks celery, sliced
1 large red onion, sliced thickly
1 green capsicum, seeded and sliced thickly

300g sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks

2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
250ml verjuice

250mls fish stock

6 x 150g snapper fillets, skin and bones removed
500g green king prawns, peeled and deveined leaving tails on

1/2 cup pitted dates, coarsely chopped

1  preserved lemon, flesh removed and finely sliced

1 tablespoon honey

couscous, to serve (recipe follows)

To make the chermoula finely chop onion, coriander and parsley leaves together in a food processor.

Add garlic, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cayenne, pepper and salt. Slowly add the lemon juice and olive oil to food processor. Mix well.

Rub chermoula into fish fillets and peeled prawns and leave to marinate for 15 minutes.
Pre-heat a large heavy based pan and add the celery, onion, capsicum, sweet potato and tomatoes. Pour in the verjuice and stock, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook covered for 15-20 minutes or until the sweet potato has softened.
Add the fish, dates, lemon and honey and cook covered for 5 minutes, add the prawns and cook for a further 5 minutes. Serve with couscous.


serves 6

500ml chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
pinch each of allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

500g instant couscous

2 tablespoons butter

1 x 440g can chickpeas
2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
Put stock, oil, spices and salt in a large saucepan and bring to the boil.

Remove from the heat and pour in the couscous, cover and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Place saucepan over a low heat and add the butter and stir with a fork to break up the grains. Stir through the chickpeas and almonds.


A tagine, originally from North Africa, is a conical-shaped earthenware dish. Ingredients of sweet and savoury flavours were packed into the pot, the lid was popped on tight, then it was cooked slowly over a smouldering charcoal fire.

The conical lid allows steam to circulate during cooking, which then creates condensation that drips back onto the meat, fish or vegies, keeping food moist.

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Smoked Trout

Whether you have smoked your own trout or bought it from the store, smoked trout can lift any dish. You can make a pasta salad or it can sit proudly on top of bruschetta or a blini with a horseradish cream or why not try it in a pie or in a kedgeree.

To smoke a whole fish you don’t have to have a smoker you can use a weber. All you need to do is get the coals red-hot before throwing on a handful of slightly moistened woodchips. Make sure the grill is in, add your freshly caught fish that is gutted and scaled and close the lid and cook for 25-40 minutes depending on size of trout or until its golden brown and will flake easily if you pick at the skin with a fork.

Here is an easy and elegant salad to serve up using smoked trout but you could also use any other hot smoked fish of your choice. Enjoy!

Smoked Trout Fennel & Potato Salad with Preserved Lemon Dressing

Serves 4

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 fennel bulb, trimmed & outer skin removed & shaved

1 red onion, peeled & sliced

1 tablespoon capers

500gms baby chats

100gms baby rocket

1 smoked trout, skin & bones removed

1 cup good quality whole egg mayonnaise

50mls lemon juice

1 preserved lemon, washed, flesh removed and finely chopped

1 red chilli, finely sliced

¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley leaves

In a screw top jar combine olive oil, vinegar, sugar and mustard and season well. Place vinaigrette in a medium bowl and add fennel, onion & capers.

Put potatoes in a large saucepan of salted water and bring to the boil. The potatoes are cooked when easily pierced with a skewer. Drain and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Peel & slice potatoes and add to vinaigrette with the rocket. Gently combine.

While potatoes are cooking combine mayonnaise with lemon juice, preserved lemon, chilli, parsley, salt & pepper.

Place potato salad onto individual serving plates and top with the smoked trout. Serve with preserved lemon mayonnaise.


*Scott (mullet guts) from Big Fish says its simple to make up your own smoker (listen to the podcast for Scotts tips).





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Mussel Mania

Winemakers without borders celebrated love for Mussels last year at Sydney Fish Market.

Black Mussels are one of my favourite dishes to serve up when I have friends dropping in at short notice. They are under-utilised, affordable and are great for whipping up a dish that your guests can’t help to devour.

You can cook them in your favourite tomato sauce and serve with pasta or simply a crusty baguette. Throw them on the barbie and once cooked and in your bowl, pour over your favourite herb and garlic butter or try my Lime & Chilli Mussel recipe, below.

There is a strong urban myth that mussel growers would love to be debunked, “discard mussels that don’t open – that they are unsafe to eat.”  Mussel growers know – as do most good chefs, there is nothing wrong with a mussel that refuses to open while being cooked. According to the Australian Mussel Industry, Australians have thrown away around 370 tonnes a year of good mussels because of an old wives tale!

When cooking mussels there are always a few that will stay closed after being cooked.  This is because the mussel opens when the adductor muscle inside the shell breaks. If that adductor muscle does not sever or separate from the shell, then the mussel will not open.

You can cook the closed mussels a little longer or and if it still doesn’t open take it away from the other opened mussels and using a butter knife pry it open. If no odour is released and the meat is cooked its all good to go.

If buying fresh live mussels, look for mussels that:

  • are closed and full of water
  • if open, will close their shells if tapped, or move if the shell is squeezed
  • do not smell ‘fishy’ or look open and dried out (these have long since died)
  • don’t store mussels in airtight containers or plastic bags without holes or they will suffocate
  • Live mussels should be placed in a bowl, covered with a damp cloth and kept in the warmest part of the refrigerator, usually the crisper (optimum 5°C), ensuring that the cloth remains damp.

Another great tip to cooking mussels is don’t remove them straight away once they have opened as you need to let the meat cook, you need to have a bit of shrinkage in the meat. Otherwise if you remove them from the heat straight after they open the texture of the meat would be  jelly-like and stuck to the perimeter of the shell, making then unpalatable.

I shared my Lime & Chilli Mussels recipe with The Big Fish this morning all you need is your hands and a crusty baguette to devour them. The best way to eat these mussels is to forget using knives and forks and use the shell from the first mussel as an implement for scooping the others out of their shells. Enjoy!


Serves 4

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

2 teaspoons salt

50mls lime juice

60g butter

1/2 tablespoon sambal oelek

1kg mussels, cleaned

Combine pepper, salt and lime juice.

Combine the butter and sambal oelek.

Heat a char-grill on high. Cook the mussels on hot plate covered with a saucepan until open and cooked.

Melt the chilli butter and pour over the cooked mussels. Spoon over the lime pepper and serve with a crusty baguette.

If you would like more recipes or info on mussels go to Sydney Fish Market’s free consumer advisory service FISHLine or come to one of Sydney Seafood School’s cooking class.


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Big fish cakes

Redfish & potato cakes from SFM fishline recipes

Fish cakes are so easy to make and a great filler for hungry teenage boys and big boys. Here are two recipes for fish cakes, one with potatoes using the fish of your choice and Thai fish cakes using redfish. When you make Thai fish cakes try using a gelatinous style fish like redfish or ling. You can also check out Sydney Fish Market Fishline for more fishcake recipes. Enjoy!

Fish and Potato Cakes
Makes 12-14

700g Pontiac potatoes, peeled, cut in

50g butter

1⁄4 cup milk

500gms fish fillets of your choice like redfish or salmon , skin and bones removed

1 tablespoon capers, drained

1 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped

1⁄2 cup mint leaves, finely chopped

zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 egg, whisked

1⁄4 cup Panko breadcrumbs (Japanese breadcrumbs), plus extra for coating

vegetable oil for frying

Rub the fillets all over with olive oil and a small pinch of the salt and pepper. Add the potatoes to the pan and bring back to a boil. Put the fish into a steamer or colander and  cover, place it over the pan of potatoes. Turn the heat down and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a skewer and the fish is cooked. Remove the fish from the colander and set aside.

Drain the potatoes well and return to saucepan. Mash with butter and milk, season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, combine fish, capers, lemon zest and juice, egg and breadcrumbs. Add mashed potato a couple of tablespoons at a time and combine well.
Scoop out 1 heaped tablespoon of salmon mixture, shape into patties and coat with breadcrumbs. Set aside on a lined baking tray and continue until all the mixture is finished. (Tip: Place into the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to set.)
Heat oil in a large frying pan and cook patties until golden on both sides. Do not overcrowd the pan, do in batches if necessary.
Serve with a coleslaw salad and wasabi mayonnaise and lemon wedges.

Top tips: You can make breadcrumbs from old white bread by processing it in a food processor. Use a whole egg mayonnaise as it’s thicker. Wasabi is found in the Asian section of the supermarket or keep a few sachets of takeaway wasabi to add to your mayonnaise.

Thai Fish Cakes

makes 12

500gms redfish fillets, skin and bones removed and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon red curry paste

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1/2 cup finely sliced snake beans or green beans

vegetable oil for frying

Place the fish fillets in a food processor, and pulse until finely minced. Add the curry paste and the fish sauce and pulse until well combined.

Transfer to a bowl and mix in the beans.

Using wet hands or lightly oil your hands wih vegetable oil, shape the mixture into 12 flat patties by slapping the mixture from one hand to the other.

Heat oil in a wok or deep-fryer to 180-200 degrees celsius and deep fry the patties until golden. serve hot or cold with asweet chilli sauce and lime wedges.

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