THERE’S LOTS OF ❢ SHELLFISH

The real workhorses of the ocean, shellfish manage to punch above their weight. Quite innocuous-looking things that come in a kaleidoscope of flavours and textures, it is a true blessing to eat something that’s as sustainable and helpful in the water as it is tasty on our plate.

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TRY THESE

OYSTER MAYO
Place an egg yolk, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and some lemon zest in a food processor or bowl. Mix or whisk to combine then begin adding a thin stream of rice bran oil until emulsified and thick. If hand whisking, add 6 oysters after blending them separately. If using a food processor then add the oysters and pulse.

KINA, PARMESAN & LEMON PASTA
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Chop a handful of parsley and a clove of garlic, zest and juice a lemon and grate some parmesan. Add spaghetti to the water and while it cooks heat olive oil in a pan. Once spaghetti is done, transfer to the pan with kina, garlic, lemon zest and juice, parmesan and just enough pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Scatter over the parsley.

 Make It Yourself ❢ Fish Burger

The burger has a mottled history that reputedly involves Mongol horses and Russian aristocrats. Today we are treated to a seemingly infinite array of burger versions to satisfy any craving, with the only rules being the presence of a bun. So let’s have some fun with bounty from the big blue!

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VIETNAMESE FISH BURGER
Slice 4 shallots, a 2cm piece of ginger and 2 garlic cloves. Fry in a pan until just browning. Add a handful of chopped dill and set aside. In another pan, heat oil to medium and add 4 medium kahawai fillets, skin side down, pressing or using a weight to keep skin from curling. Serve in a bun on a bed of the shallot mixture and a generous helping of chilli sauce.

AMERICAN-STYLE FISH BURGER
A fatty and juicy fish such as hāpuku, kahawai or blue warehou would be great here to give some flavour that can stand up to the condiments. Put the fish skin-side down into an oiled pan on a medium heat. Once cooked halfway through, add 50g of butter to the pan and begin to spoon in over the fish as it melts. Once almost cooked though, layer cheese slices over the fish, remove from the heat and cover with a lid so the cheese melts. Mix mayo and mustard in a 3:1 ratio. Slather the top half of a bun with sauce and layer pickles on the fish.

JAPANESE-STYLE FISH BURGER
Make a tempura batter by combining 1 cup of cold water and a whisked egg with 1 cup of white flour. Dip butterfish or cod fillets in batter before deep-frying until done. Once finished and on a cooling rack, sprinkle liberally with furikake. Spread a thin layer of wasabi mayo on both halves of a bun and a layer of pickled daikon radish on the bottom bun before adding the fish.

Celebrate the staples ❢ Fish Sauce

If seafood is so often the carrier of intense umami flavours and salt is a tried-and-true flavour enhancer, it seems an exciting prospect to combine the two and let time and chemistry work some magic. There are a huge range of fish sauces with different intensities, made from different seafood and from different parts of the globe, but they all have the same ability to deliver a massive hit of savoury flavour enhancement in what is often a surprisingly subtle way. Don’t be put off by the strength of the aroma when using fish sauce, it is an expert at blending in with the crowd once in a dish. Have some fun experimenting with different brands and sauces made from different seafoods.

Reinventing the meal ❢ Fish Fingers

We don’t actually have any fond memories of fish fingers from when we were growing up – they seemed to have missed our freezers – but they are still etched into our minds through their sheer ubiquity. I mean, does delicate fish encased in a salty, crispy-fried outer layer present a very appealing concept? Say no more.

TRY THESE

ONE-PAN FISH FINGER BIG BREKKY
In a large cast-iron or other heavy-based pan, put a good glug of olive oil. Add a diced onion, 4 diced mushrooms and a couple of splashes of Worcestershire sauce. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 5 whole tomatoes, a chopped garlic clove, chopped thyme and a couple of tablespoons of water and cover to steam for 8 minutes. Remove the lid, stir gently and add 5 leftover fish fingers around the pan. Pour in 4 whisked eggs and cook until set. Eat with hot sauce and pieces of heavily buttered toast.

FISH FINGER SARNIE
Butter pieces of good white bread, soft buns or fresh ciabatta on both sides. On the bottom layer, put a smear of mayo and a smattering of capers. Quick-pickle some finely sliced red onion in rice wine vinegar, water and sugar. Layer sarnie with fresh or reheated fish fingers, pickles, fresh dill and a squeeze of lemon.

FISH FINGER TACOS
Dice an avocado, red onion, 2 tomatoes and as many chillies as you see fit. Combine in a bowl with the zest and juice of two limes, and the chopped root, stalk and leaves of a bunch of coriander. Whisk together 1 cup sour cream and 1 cup grated parmesan. Cook tortillas in a heavy-based frying pan and serve with fresh or reheated fish fingers, a heap of sour cream, a pile of salsa and your favourite hot sauce.

FISH FINGER TOAD IN THE HOLE
Make a well in the centre of 140g sifted white flour. Add a whisked mixture of 2 eggs, 170ml milk, a tablespoon of melted butter and pinch of salt and pepper. Put a greased casserole or baking dish in a 220°C oven for 10 minutes. Remove and add fish fingers and pour over batter. Return to the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the batter has risen and become golden. Eat hot!