Best fish recipes? Are you serious?
I admit I've made a pretty big claim. And I can back it up. You can also make this at home with ease, so it;s simple too.
It attracts the title because I end up making it in every job and every country I've been in, and it just walks out the door.
Customers, guests, staff all love it.
Since leaving Sydney, 6 of my GM's have told me it's one of the best fish recipes they've ever tried .
I've had jobs offered from cooking it at interview food tastings.
And it's consistently one of my best selling and most requested dishes.
If I take it off the menu, it ends up back on through requests. So I suppose you could say that guests have voted it into the best fish recipes section via their wallet and tastebuds.
But what IS it that rockets something onto the "Top 10 best fish recipes"?
It should taste good, look good, have amazing texture and be within whatever budget you want.
It should enhance and highlight the fresh fish – not overpower.
It should be simple, yet not simplistic. Good balance of flavours, able to be cooked quickly and freshly. Colourful, tasty and well balanced.
This ticks all of the "best fish recipes" boxes.
It's easy to make, affordable, tastes sensational, and the fish can be varied to budget or taste.
You can plate it any way from rustic to fine dining, and it's pretty quick and painless to make.
The best news is that is is so simple and there are only nine ingredients – including the black pepper.
It's easy, delicious and very effective – and can be done in almost any kitchen.
You need tomatoes, spring onions, cold hard butter and the best available soy seasoning sauce.
My favourite is Golden Mountain seasoning sauce from Thailand. It's without peer.
But you can use Maggi seasoning sauce or Gold Label seasoning sauce as well.
If you really must, you can use 'regular' soy, but it will lack that extra dimension that makes your heart and soul start simmering when you eat it.
This is one of my favourite ways to do fish, especially sea bass, or Barramundi as we call it in Australia.
I 'invented' this recipe in Far North Queensland where we would catch wild Barramundi in the Russell River, and sometimes have to fight crocodiles to get them out of the water and into the boat.
Since leaving Queensland, I've also used hammour fillet over in Dubai, had outstanding reviews and comments with Beluga and Sevruga Sturgeon fillet (over in Kazakhstan) and blue eye cod in Sydney.
You can use any fish with firm, white, 'non-fishy' tasting flesh. Snapper or grouper would also be fine.
Recipe for barramundi with tomato soya spring onion butter
makes 2 portions
450g sea bass fillet, skin on, boneless 2 x 225g portions (barramundi, cod, grouper, snapper, swordfish etc also OK)
60g butter, cold, hard, unsalted
150g whole tomato, ripe, fresh, very red & meaty
4 ea spring onion, thick, fresh (white AND green parts)
¼ tsp black pepper, freshly crushed
20ml Golden Mountain soy seasoning sauce – to taste. About 1 dsp to 1 tbsp
160g baby bok choy or Chinese broccoli
20ml vegetable oil for stir frying the baby bok choy
20ml oyster sauce
For the method, see step-by-step photos and directions below.
To me it’s important to keep the skin on as it crisps.
The Sea Bass / Barramundi is a superbly textured fish with a great tasting skin.
The fish can be cooked on a flat top grill, pan-fried, or even roasted.
I normally choose the method depending on the size of the fillet.
Pan roasted is great for thicker fillets from larger fish.
The secret to not losing the skin is to have a very hot surface, so heat the pan very well, drizzle a little oil then add the fish.
If you don't heat the grill or the pan enough, the skin will stick and tear off.
Season the fish with freshly ground black pepper, but not salt, as the sauce is salty enough from the soy.
A solid grill is usually easy to use and rarely sticks if hot enough – put the fish skin down on the hot surface, wait, and use a lifter to turn after a few minutes.
If using a pan, a great trick is to add it to the hot pan, shake a little about 2 seconds after you put it in, and it 'releases' the fish.
To 'cheat' – use a non stick pan. Cutting an "X" on the skin also stops the skin from retracting too much and 'curling' the fillet.
Next you'll need some Asian green vegetables.
I always end up with baby bok choy, or pak soy or whatever you want to call it.
The best way to do this is to blanch it for 30 seconds (dip it into rapidly boiling water, then drain it) – then toss it in a very hot pan or wok. A dash of oyster sauce and a touch of freshly ground black pepper kicks ass.
Next is the sauce.
Have everything ready, and leave it till last. .
The butter has to be hard cubes, the tomato fresh, meaty and diced, and the spring onion freshly chopped – white AND green, and not cut too small.
Put all into a saucepan, add the soy seasoning sauce (to taste), and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. It will become rich, light glossy brown and smooth. (If you let it sit there on the heat without stirring, the butter will split like a layer of greasy oil.)
Don't cook it first.
Heat it, stirring, to a boil.
Simmer while stirring for about 40 seconds until the spring onions soften, then serve it over the fish.
Place the dead, cremated sea-creature on top of the wok-fried vegetables, and administer the last rites.
In this case, you spoon the sauce over the top.
So simple, so nice. And definitely one of my best fish recipes!
We're about to experiment with a new way of doing this dish which hides all of the sauce away – out of sight and out of mind.
I've been doing this one for about 16 years now, and it's always a firm favourite on any menu.
I hope you enjoy it too.