Australia's Top Chefs and Fishmongers tell how to do it at!
Hot on the heels of the success of their first Top Chefs' cookbook, our two restaurant consultants Virginia and Lisa Hellier have followed up by presenting their favourite chefs' and fishmongers' seafood recipes - with easy to follow steps.
These clever Australian chefs show the best ways to handle and cook our world premier seafood and our early riser fishmongers have given some tips and advice from deep within their ranks. Try recipes from household names like Chef Ben O'Donoghue from Southbank Surf Club in Brisbane, with his Curried Mud Crab or Chef Luke Mangan from Glass in Sydney, The Palace, Melbourne and Salt in Tokyo with his brilliant yet simple Roasted barramundi with preserved lemon, basil risotto and sweet pea sauce. Then there is Chef Darren Simpson from La Scala on Jersey's Potato and whitebait pancake with crème fraiche, chives and caviar and Fishmonger and owner of Claingbold's Seafoods - Peter Megas with his specific cooking tips which are invaluable!
Chefs and fishmongers of greatness aside - Seafood is the star! From calamari to rock flathead, barramundi to whitebait and prawns, we are spoilt for choice with the stunningly fresh and diverse food from Australian waters.
Lisa Hellier originally trained and worked as a chef in leading Melbourne restaurants. She went on to join Virginia in her consultancy business, planning and designing menus, instigating kitchen and foodservice systems and designs. She also assists in the development and staging of numerous guest and celebrity chefs' events and appearances.
Virginia Hellier is a respected food and wine mentor. For over twenty five years Virginia has been at the forefront of the food and lifestyle industry in Victoria. With an encyclopaedic knowledge of food and wine, Virginia is constantly consulted on all aspects of these sectors and continues to appear as a food commentator on Victorian radio. Her clients include Victorian and Queensland Restaurants and Hotels.
Top Chefs' Seafood Recipes Made Easy
Authors: Virginia and Lisa Hellier
Question: What inspired you to begin the Top Chefs' Recipe Book series?
Virginia Hellier: I have been involved in food for twenty five years and I have had gourmet stores, cooking schools and I am very interested in food. We've brought out many international chefs to Australia as well as very famous Australian chefs to use in different events. I have always had chefs working around me as well as the Queen Victoria Market Cooking School. I didn't want to use chefs from the cooking school in Top Chefs' Seafood Recipes Made Easy because I didn't want it to be a market book.
Question: What made you decide to tackle seafood?
Virginia Hellier: People are always saying to me and I am being sexist, but most Australian woman can't cook fish. I had an Italian Uncle and he was involved in cooking seafood, and I suppose because of that I have always been watching people cook fish, it has never frightened me. I am always astonished when people tell me that they can't cook fish, the thing with fish is that you just cook it fast!
So many people had said they enjoyed the first Top Chefs' Recipe Book but that they wished it had more seafood recipe and I have all these seafood chefs around me, I may as well do something with seafood. I also wanted to include the wholesaler, which is why I brought in the Fishmonger and owner of Claingbold's Seafoods. Claingbold's Seafoods is fabulous, the Queen Victorian Market fishmongers are good but Claingbold's are fantastic- they're located in the Prahan market.
Question: Do you cook seafood at home?
Virginia Hellier: Yes! I go to the Prahan market, not that often and I know some of my chef friends are shocked but I freeze the fish I buy. It is a lot easier for me to have the fish, in the freezer. I ask the fishmonger to wrap each piece separately, as I buy around eight pieces of Atlantic Salmon. Most chefs say 'Oh Virginia how can you freeze your fish?' and I feel like saying 'If you want to come round, every night, and cook my dinner…' It is perfectly okay to freeze fish, in your own kitchen for convenience but not in a restaurant!
I live a fairly busy life and to just be able to grab a piece of fish out of the freezer and put it into the steamer or whatever I like, it's easy.
Last night I cooked Atlantic Salmon with pasta, a rigatoni. I made a garlic, caper and olive oil sauce and then I put the fish into the sauce, chopped it up and then put it over the rigatoni with parmesan cheese on top.
Question: Will there be more books in this series?
Virginia Hellier: Yes, Top Chefs' Seafood Recipes Made Easy is the second book and we are actually working on a third book which will be Italian: antipasto, pasta and risotto! Lisa Hellier, my daughter, says she will start putting the book together in February.
Question: What is your favourite all time seafood dish?
Virginia Hellier: I love seafood and I'd have to say the dish I put in the first Top Chefs' Recipe Book, which is Pasta Vongole! Pasta Vongole is those tiny little clams, the dish is so easy! You just put the oil in, add the garlic, capers and I usually add some anchovies- you wash the clams or pippies very carefully, I usually wash them in five different lots of water and then when your sauce is warm you dry off the outsides of the clams and throw them into the pan and pop a lid on it; then they will open. They have to open or they're no good.
Interview by Brooke Hunter