Here are the recipes that John Ford and I talked through at the Sustainable Living Festival at Federation Square in Melbourne on February 20th.
SALT & PEPPER CALAMARI (OR SQUID)
This is easy to cook – the key is to have everything ready to go before you turn the oil on.
6 tubes calamari / 4 tubes squid, cleaned
1 cup plain white flour
2 tbsp ground sea salt
1 ground black pepper
1 cup rice bran oil
Slice the tubes into 1cm rings and put aside.
In a large bowl place the flour, salt and pepper and combine them well.
Place a large fry-pan or wok on the hot plate and pour in the oil.
Have a flat plate lined with paper towel next to the hot plate and a slotted spoon or other implement that is good to scoop and drain simultaneously at the ready.
Set yourself up at the stovetop – you don’t want to be turning around or distracting yourself from this process as it’s so quick and very hot.
Turn the heat up to high, and as the oil is heating place the calamari in the flour and toss liberally so the rings are evenly coated with the mix.
To check the oil, carefully spoon one ring into the oil. If it starts to bubble gently put one spoonful of rings into the oil, this part sounds crazy but count to ten. Give them all a turn, move them through the oil and then count to ten again.
With the slotted spoon carefully pick up the calamari and put directly on the paper towel.
Repeat this until all the calamari is cooked.
lots of lemon and lime wedges
put finely chopped chilli into the flour mix if you’d like some spice to it.
1-2 leatherjackets per person (depending on the fish and the appetites your feeding)
Heat the oven to 180C.
Brush the fish on both sides with the oil, or just pour a little over the fish to evenly coat it with the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place on an oven tray lined with alfoil and baking paper.
Place in the oven and check after 4 minutes with a cake tester or a cooking thermometer.
Leave no longer than 6 minutes.
This is a fish with a subtle sweet/saltiness:
serve it with a simple tomato and basil salad,
or roughly chopped black olives, parsley and lemon zest,
combined and served on top of or next to the fish.
Serves 3 – 4
10 fresh whole sardines, gutted, cleaned and butterflied (allow 2 to 4 per person)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bunch coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 small birds eye chilli, finely chopped
rice bran oil or another good cooking oil, like olive oil
Heat the oil in a saucepan to a gentle/medium heat. Add the garlic and cook slowly, so as not to colour but bring out the flavour. Add the chilli and cook for a further minute and then add the coriander and combine well. Put aside.
Open the sardines skin-side down and place the garlic mixture down the spine (middle) of the fish. Fold one side over to close and then once all the sardines are filled, cook on a hot barbecue for two minutes on each side. Serve with lots of lemon (don’t add salt to sardines – they are naturally very salty).
a salad of celery, green apple, mint, garlic and yoghurt
or couscous with pinenuts and sultanas
PAN-FRIED WHITING (King George or Sand is good)
Account for 2 fillets per person
pure olive oil
Pour a small amount of oil over each fillet and then season with salt and pepper. Heat a fry-pan until it is good and hot. When it is, place the fillets skin-side down in the pan – it will give out a quick sharp sizzle; let it cook for 1 minute, turn it over and cook it for another minute, take it off the heat and serve.
Whiting does well with so many flavours:
right now it would go well with a salad of bean sprouts, hot mint, chilli and rice wine vinegar.
A salad of leafy greens: spinach, rocket, radicchio, cos, lemon juice, chardonnay vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper