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The fishing hasn’t improved.  He’s still catching mostly Australian salmon.  Luckily, the recommendations are  to eat oily fish at least a couple of times a week, and Australian salmon are one of the best oily fish.  And they’re one of the few on the list that are sustainable – gemfish are a threatened species, blue-eye trevalla are often long-line fished, Atlantic salmon are all farmed, and canned tuna is overfished, threatened, and fished in wasteful and destructive ways.

Australian salmon may not be a prized eating fish, but you can make a dinner from them that people will go back for seconds.  Which is just as well, because they’re a big fish – you get a lot of meals from one. The tricks are: they must be very very fresh, filleted to remove the dark  “blood” meat, the skin and the fat just under the skin, and used in recipe that includes some acid (tomato, lemon) and involves flaking them.

The Recipe:

With a mortar and pestle, mash together to a paste:

  • 1 dessertspoon of chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 small dessertspoon of chopped fresh turmeric (or a teaspoon of powder)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Fresh or dried chili depending on your chili and your taste, but not too much. I use ½ teaspoon of dried chili
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander powder
  • 1 stalk of lemon grass

In a little olive oil in a large pot, saute a chopped onion till translucent.

Add the spice paste, and continue cooking for a minute, then add

  • 700 grams of fish fillets chopped into bite sized pieces (white meat only, skin removed)
  • 700 grams of vegetables (broccoli, snow peas, cauliflower)
  • 1 jar of tomatoes
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • scant teaspoon salt
  • a cup of water

Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes or so until the vegetables are tender and the fish is flaked.

Take the pot off the heat and stir in 5 good dessertspoons of plain low fat yoghurt. If you bring it back to the boil at this point, the yoghurt will curdle.  It will still taste good but it won’t look as creamy.

Serve with rice and chopped fresh coriander to sprinkle on top.

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The fishing hasn’t been good lately.  He comes home with either nothing, or bream (which are one of my lesser favoured fish) or salmon.   Australian salmon are not a salmon at all, but a sea perch.  They’re listed as sustainable and that’s at least partly because  they are notoriously not a prized table fish.  They are a good source of omega 3 though, and they can be turned into a good fish dinner with a bit of care.

Salmon are strong flavoured, in the same way that many of the oily fish that are really good for you are – think mackeral, herring, sardines. The flavour gets stronger, fast, after they are caught, so they really need to be very fresh.  The dark  “blood” meat and the fat just under the skin is the strongest, so they should be filleted to remove it. They go best with some acid like lemon or tomato and strong balancing flavours.  And the texture is chewy, so they work best in something where they’re chopped, flaked or smoked.

But after all that, they do make very good  curries, casseroles, stews, soups and patties, maybe even better for being stronger flavoured. This is one of my favourite ways to use them.

The Recipe:

Makes about 14 fish cakes.

In a pressure cooker or a large pot with a close fitting lid, poach

  • 600 grams of fish fillets (white meat only, without skin)
  • juice and rind of ½ lemon
  • 3 bay leaves

In a pressure cooker, you will need just a dash of water and 5 minutes.  In a pot you will need a bit more water and a bit longer.

Cool the fish until you can handle it, then discard the bay leaves and use your fingers to flake it into a bowl, feeling for bones as you go.

Meanwhile, cook 300 grams of diced potato (2 medium spuds) till soft.

Use your hands to squish together:

  • the flaked fish
  • the cooked potato
  • ½ cup (packed) of finely chopped parsley and dill (I like it to be two-thirds parsley, but if you like dill, you might go the other way)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • juice and rind of the other ½ lemon
  • salt and pepper

Shape into patties and shallow fry in olive oil till golden.

They’re good with salad or vegetables for dinner, and surprisingly good cold for lunch.

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The bloke came back from fishing with three tailor, and a great big Australian salmon. Tailor are one of my very favourite fish.  They are listed as sustainable, they’re a good source of Omega 3, and they are such a good eating fish that it is a bit of a pity to do anything more to them than fillet, fry, and serve with lemon wedges and a good salad. And then use the frames for stock for a soup.

Salmon though are another matter.  Australian salmon are not a salmon at all, but a sea perch, and though sustainable, they are notoriously not a prized table fish.   If fresh caught, bled, skinned, and filleted to remove the dark “blood” meat,  the flavour is good – strong but good.  The texture is more the problem.  They are a bit chewy and soft at the same time.  Only one way to honour the life of an Australian salmon by really enjoying eating it! (Actually there’s two – they are really good smoked, but that’s for another day).

The Recipe:

This made a big pot of stew that would feed four for dinner easily.  We were greedy and ate the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Dice (not too finely)and bring to the boil in a large pot:

  • 2 onions
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 potato
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 chilis
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped herbs (oregano, marjoram, thyme)
  • 10 pitted olives
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 600 grams of fresh chopped tomatoes (or a can of tomatoes)
  • 1 piece of preserved lemon, finely chopped (or substitute 1 teaspoon of grated lemon rind)

Simmer for 10 minutes or so, until the carrot and potato are just starting to get soft, then add 700 grams of Australian salmon fillets (skinned, white meat only) chopped into large chunks.

Continue simmering for 5 minutes or so, until the salmon is just cooked. Taste and add salt to taste.

Meanwhile, make the dressing.

The Dressing:

(Does anyone know what this is called?  I’m sure it must be a traditional idea somewhere in the Mediterranean).

In a food processor, blend together:

  • 3 big sprigs of parsley, stripped from the stems.
  • 1 spring onion, greens and all
  • 1 slice of good bread
  • juice of a lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • little swig of good olive oil

Ladle the stew into bowls, sprinkle the dressing on top and serve.

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