Last week I had the opportunity to do a cooking demonstration for the lovely folk at the Mount Ocean Sports Club. The plan was to provide some fresh ideas on seafood. So….armed with some snapper, kingfish and scallops, I walked into a room full of people who have caught, cooked and eaten these species countless times. A bit daunting – after all, no one knows fish like a fisherman, right?
Well it’s true. For those who live in the Bay, we have some of the best seafood on our doorstep. All we need to do is experiment and enjoy the wonderful healthy varieties that the ocean has to offer. The key word here being healthy. So we leave the deep fat fryer in the pantry and explore the simple flavours without all those added fats. The other thing is to try to use the whole fish to extract the maximum flavour. To that end, this dish starts with the use of the bones to make a fish stock. Don’t be daunted – it really is quick and the flavour you’ll get is worth it. Then just follow the recipe for the Bouillabaisse and enjoy.
For the purists from the South of France this dish needs very specific fish from the Mediterranean which, let’s face it, is not feasible when we have such amazing seafood right here. So we follow the basic principles and substitute our local favourites and call it a ‘Pilot Bay Bouillabaisse’ in honour of where this one was caught, cooked and eaten.
For me, the best bit of my time at Mount Ocean Sports Club was after I’d finished and everyone was tasting the fruits of our labours. There was a buzz of conversation around the room. Who’d have thought that the fish they know so well could still surprise them with crisp, clear, healthy flavour?
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion and 1 red chilli, chopped
1 fennel bulb and 1 leek, trimmed and sliced
10 saffron threads
1 tablespoon boiling water
400g can peeled tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 litres fish stock (see below)
500g snapper fillets, skin on, cubed
12 raw green lip mussels, cleaned and cut into 6
12 medium raw prawns, peeled, tails intact
8 scallops in the half shell
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
Heat the oil and add the onion, fennel, leek and chilli and cook for 6 minutes until soft and golden. Meanwhile place the saffron threads in a small bowl and pour over the boiling water. Add the tomatoes, saffron (and water) and stock to the pan. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the snapper, mussels, prawn and scallops to the broth and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir through the parsley and serve in bowls with croutons.
2kg soaked and washed fish bones
3 litres cold water
2 medium onions
2 white leeks
2 sticks celery
50g fresh herbs
12 white peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
600ml white wine
Sweat the vegetables and herbs with the olive oil until soft but without colouring them. Add the fish bones and stir to coat. Add water and wine to cover and bring to the boil. Skim and simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool (about 3 to 4 hours), sieve and store in the fridge or freezer.
Over the past few years many of you will have noticed an odd South American product called Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) appearing on our supermarket shelves. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this is a new product. However, it is thought to be 10,000 tears old and was so sacred that religious rites were held in its honour. The rituals were passed down through generations and lasted until 1532 when the Spanish Army killed the Incan emperor and destroyed the quinoa crop while taking over the lands. The conquerors suppressed all quinoa practices and usage but some of the natives would sneak to the higher portions of the land to secretly cultivate quinoa plant. Unbelievably people forgot about the plant until the 1970s.
So why is quinoa so good? Well the answer to that delves into both science and geography. It is the seed of the South American goosefoot plant – a distant relative of silver beet and spinach. It is rich in manganese, magnesium, iron, tryptophan, copper and phosphorus. It has many of the B vitamins as well, and with all nine essential amino acids, it’s a complete protein — like meat — which makes it the Holy Grail of the vegetarian world. And it’s gluten-free.
On the geography front, quinoa is one of those grains that likes to struggle, growing best at high altitude and in poor soils. It copes well with frost and drought and frankly the only thing it doesn’t like is heat.
Quinoa is easy to digest and quick to prepare. I prefer to soak the seeds for a few minutes, before placing them in a fine-meshed sieve under running water. Dry the kernels on a kitchen towel and toast the seeds in a dry, hot saucepan for a few minutes until the water evaporates and the quinoa becomes aromatic, before adding simmering water or stock to cook for about 10 – 12 minutes or until marvelously fluffy with little threads.
It’s official; after 450 years in the wilderness Quinoa has again achieved cult status. The ancient Incan grain has captured the public’s imagination with its mix of nutritional superpowers, delicious flavour and rainbow colours, popping up on trendy restaurant menus all over New Zealand
Quinoa Salad with Roast Vegetables & Haloumi
1 red capsicum, chopped roughly
1 yellow capsicum, chopped roughly
1 red onion, sliced
1 courgette, sliced
1 small carrot, peeled and chopped roughly
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 cup quinoa (pronounced ‘keenwa’)
Salt & pepper
1 cup spinach, chopped roughly
150g haloumi cheese, grilled until golden brown
Vinaigrette dressing (see below)
Roast chopped vegetables (except spinach), garlic and olive oil in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 30 to 40 mins until golden brown. Meanwhile, wash quinoa with cold water in a sieve and squeeze dry in a clean tea towel. Place quinoa in a pan, place over a medium heat and fry until lightly toasted. Cover with boiling water or stock and simmer gently until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove vegetables from oven and add to quinoa with spinach and seasoning. Add dressing and mix well. Place in a bowl with grilled haloumi on top as a garnish and serve.
½ tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
50ml red wine vinegar
50ml balsamic vinegar
100ml hazelnut oil
100ml avocado oil
100ml olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
6 turns white pepper
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
Place all the ingredients into a blender and blitz for 60 seconds. Strain through a fine sieve.