Neil Perry’s Roast Whole Snapper with Fennel and Olives

Serves: 4

This is a smashing Neil Perry dish, delivered by Nat as a late, slow lunch this past week between Christmas and NYE.

Served alongside with an amazing avocado salsa (I know!), potatoes with salsa verde, broccolini sautéed with garlic and chilli and a bottle of Champagne, this was a post Christmas super-treat.

So fresh, so aromatic, so Mediterranean.

I have a particular affection for people that cook and serve whole fish.

It says a lot about them.

And it dials up any meal. It makes for a special meal.

(Explains my affection for Nat.)

Dive into this one Sunday lunch and you’ll have smiles all around.

Dedication

We’re dedicating this recipe to our great friends Josh and Leesh and especially their new son. Congratulations on your new, little man Charlie:

Josh is the avid fisherman and Leesh is a kitchen wizard.

No couple would seem to catch or cook so many whole fish as these two. Looking forward to a long lunch – and whole fish – once Charlie’s a little bit older.

We’ll bring some solid whites!

Ingredients

4 small whole snapper (400 – 500gms) or 1 large (1.5kg – 2kg)
1 red onion, finely sliced
1 fennel bulb, finely sliced
2 tbsp oregano, chopped
2 tbsp thyme, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 red capsicum, cut in half and finely sliced
1 green capsicum, cut in half and finely sliced
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and quartered
2 tbsp salted baby capers, rinsed and drained
6 anchovies
150gm Ligurian olives (Nat used green olives)
Sea salt
1 cup white wine
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground pepper

Neil’s Avocado Salsa

1 avocado, ripe though not mushy
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 vine-ripened tomato, peeled, deseeded and finely diced
2 spring onions, cut into rings
1 red capsicum, cut in half, core removed and finely diced
2 tbsp finely shredded flat leaf parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
10 drops Tabasco sauce

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Take a roasting tin and check that it fits your fish. (Use two tins if necessary.) Scatter the onion, fennel, oregano and thyme over the bottom of the tin and drizzle with half the extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Put the fish on top and cover with the capsicum, tomato, capers, anchovies and olives. Salt liberally and pour the rest of the oil and wine over. Cook smaller fish for 25 minutes or until cooked, basting every 5 minutes or a larger fish for 1 hour.
  3. Place the fish on individual plates or a platter. Spoon the sauce and vegetables over and add the parsley and pepper.
  4. Serve with a big dollop of the salsa. (Plus potatoes of some variety, a green of some variety, Champagne, white wine and plenty of cold beer!)

Avocado Salsa

  1. Cut the avocado in half, remove the stone and cut the flesh into a fine dice; put in a stainless steel bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, stir together, check the seasoning and enjoy.

Thomas John’s Snapper with Saffron Broth

Serves: 4

This is such a delicate, Spanish, summer-lunch: a recipe my mother shared with me.

Seafood, saffron, fish stock and petite vegetables. How could you go wrong?

Open a white wine. Pour the wine. Tear some crusty bread.

Time is on your side.

Enjoy.

(And pour more wine! It’s summer!)

Ingredients

100ml olive oil
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 small leek (white only), thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
12 black mussels, cleaned
2 1/2 tbsp white wine
2 cup fish stock
1 tsp saffron threads
4 snapper fillets, skin scored
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
1 potato, peeled, cubed and cooked
20 asparagus spears, blanched
1 bunch English spinach, stalks trimmed
Sea salt and pepper
Parsley sprigs

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160c.
  2. Cook the celery, leek and shallots in half the olive oil for 1 minute, increase the heat to high, add the mussels and wine and cover for 3 minutes or until the mussels open.
  3. Strain the mixture and return the liquid to the pan and reduce by 1/3.
  4. Add the stock and saffron and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Sauté the fish skin side down in the remaining oil for 2 minutes, turn over and cook for 1 minute and then place in the oven for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the potato and tomato to the broth and heat through and season.
  7. Add the asparagus, spinach and mussels and simmer until the spinach is just wilted.
  8. Divide the spinach and asparagus among bowls and pour over the broth.
  9. Scatter the mussels, tomato and potato around and then top with the fish and garnish with parsley.

The Boathouse Snapper Pie

Makes: 5

Pre-Preamble: we served this pie as course #4 of #6 at our long lunch/wedding. It is one of our favourite dishes and the restaurant – The Boathouse at Blackwattle Bay – is where I asked Nat to marry me.

(She gave me a tentative yes though told me to ask a year later for the full affirmative, something I duly did.)

Anyway, so as not to cause confusion, when we first typed this recipe up, we did it as a tribute to our wonderful friends Leesh and Josh for their wedding. Here is the handsome couple at our long lunch/wedding (which was also coincidentally Leesh’s birthday):

The preamble below is what we originally wrote to them and obviously we can’t remove it!

Preamble: We are typing up this recipe as part of a tribute to our awesome friends Leesh and Josh who are getting married – at last – this weekend. Being awesome means they are awesome on the food front: cooking, eating, discussing and pairing wines with.

Here is to many meals in the future guys. We are proud to be your friends.

Enjoy the copper and cooking this pie one rainy Saturday. Keep the champagne near.

Love

Nat and Rob

The Boathouse at Blackwattle Bay is one of our favourite restaurants.

It means a slow and incredibly comfortable afternoon of great food, wine, cheese, conversation, laughter and watching the boats slowly drift by. There really are fewer, better ways to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Of course, anyone in the know about this wonderful institution would know that the signature dish on the menu is the Snapper Pie.

And lordy, what a pie it is.

The richness of the pie. The smell, the warmth. The whole bloody thing.

And the smoky tomato? Yes please.

(Here is how Nat produced the tomatoes for our wedding: baby tomatoes, brined overnight, smoking essence and balsamic, seasoned and roasted:)

Not to speak of the obvious outcome of the Paris mash.

Anyway, we cooked this – for the second time – a few weekends ago and holy smoking duck balls it was fine. Smiles, gasps, awe.

Every hour of sweating onions paid off!

Take off the afternoon and make this.

It is pure joy.

Ingredients

800gm pink snapper fillet, cut into 3cm pieces (you can get from the Fish Markets)
5 dessert spoonfuls of white truffle oil
Puff pastry
1.2kg sliced onions
800mls cream
400mls fish stock
300gm diced onion
Olive oil
Salt
1 egg beaten with a little water
4 tomatoes, peeled, halved and seeded
80gm long grain rice
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
Paris mash to serve

Method

  1. Sweat the sliced onion is a little olive oil and salt and cook as slowly as you can until the onions are light golden.
  2. Add the fish stock and slowly reduce by half. Add the cream and slowly reduce by half or until you have a thick, creamy consistency and remove from the heat.
  3. In a separate pan, sweat the diced onion with a little olive oil and salt and cook slowly until light golden. Add to the sliced onions and check the seasoning.
  4. Preheat the oven to 250c.
  5. Spoon some of the sauce into 5 deep pie dishes, lay over the fish, cover with the remainder of the sauce and add one dessertspoon of truffle oil to each dish.
  6. Roll out the pastry, lay over the dishes, press down and trim at the edges and egg wash. Bake for 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
  7. For the smoked tomatoes, line a wok with foil, place the rice in the base, place a wire rack over and heat the wok until the rice starts to smoke.
  8. Place the tomatoes cut side up on the rack, combine the garlic and balsamic and brush the tomatoes. Cover with foil and cook for 3 minutes until heated through and smoked.
  9. Allow the pie to rest for a few minutes before serving with the tomatoes and the Paris mash.