sharing recipes from one generation to the next
Since watching Australian Sustainable Seafood campaigner Matthew Evans present his SBS documentary “What’s The Catch” late in 2014 I’ve been especially vigilant about the source, the sustainability and the species of the seafood I buy and eat.
The laws in Australia state that all fresh fish sold must be labelled with the country of origin, but those same laws do not apply to fish sold in restaurants, cafes and take away food stores. During the making of this especially interesting 3 part program, it was found that many fish shop owners who sold boneless fish fillets as flake were ignorant of what species of shark meat they were selling, and where it had been caught. Testing proved that much of it was from species already under threat from the Asian shark fin industry.
Flake is the most popular fish sold battered and fried by fish and chip shops in my home state, the fish that had been my first choice for making curry up until then. The message from Matt Evans is clear, until we know without a doubt what species of shark we are eating, and where it was caught, we should say “no!”
An Australian Senate enquiry into fish labelling laws handed down it’s recommendations just prior to Christmas, and hopefully once parliament resumes after the summer break they will pass in to law mandatory labelling standards which will encompass menus, from the humble fish and chip shop to five star dining. Only then will consumers be able to make an informed decision about choosing sustainable wild caught seafood and fish farmed with little enviromental impact.
And so to fish curry.
Locally caught Spanish mackerel has become my new favourite choice of fish to turn into a curry. The flavour is a perfect complement to spices and it holds together in a light braise without falling apart.
Spanish mackerel is both local and sustainable.
750g Spanish mackerel fillet
2 tablespoons rice flour
4-6 tablespoons pungent mustard oil (available from Indian grocery stores)
5 cm cinnamon stick
5 cardamom pods, cracked
4 cassia leaves (Indian bay)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
7cm piece root ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon crushed dried chilli
500ml natural yoghurt
2 green chillis, finely sliced
Cut the fish off the coarse skin and cut into large bite sized chunks. Toss the fish n the rice flour.
Heat 4 tablespoons of mustard seed in a large sauce pan then fry the fish in batches until well coloured on all sides.
Drain on crumpled kitchen paper.
Add more oil if necessary, reheat then add the whole spices and toast until aromatic.
Add the ginger, garlic and ground spices and stir over the heat for a couple of minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the yoghurt, stirring continuously to prevent it from splitting. Once all the yoghurt has been added, bring the sauce to the boil, return the fish to the pan and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
Stir in the green chillis, taste the sauce and season.
Adapted from The Food of India, a Murdoch publication