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Australian Fish and Seafood Cookbook

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OK, I admit it... I'm a sucker for Seafood Cookbooks. This is one is a doozie, though - just released in the last couple of days:




Not just recipes, though...lots of good information on identification, sources, sustainability, substitutes, preparation etc., etc...


Picked up my copy last Friday from Dymocks, and although it's not cheap, I can recommend it.




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Review from "The Weekend Australian" of September 24-25, 2016, by John Lethlean:







I discovered early in my now 20-year career as a typist on matters of food that fish was a slippery subject. "There's no such thing as cod in Australia," would come the voice down the line. (People still called each other in those days.) "Was it jewfish or dhufish? How can you be sure?" I might have mentioned fishing for blackback in Tassie as a kid. "You mean Australian salmon, right?"


The Britpack of chefs had invaded our kitchens, and with them and their pasty complexions had come nostalgia for the kitchens of Blighty, along with an almost criminal disregard for the importance of facts. "You know there's no such thing as monkfish in Australia, don't you?" It was similar to the invasion of Australia by the British in the first place; they found fish that looked familiar, named them accordingly, and most of those names stuck.


He knows who he is, the man at the other end of the line I privately called the Fish Police. I owe him a lot. And soon enough, I worked out with his help several things that had left your humble scribe floundering, so to speak. Certain fish had different names in different states.


Often, the names were entirely wrong, but tradition had taken hold.


What was a coral cod in Victoria was a coral perch in SA and a red perch in WA. But in fact it was an ocean perch, with the scientific name Helicolenus barathri, in all three. Sounds like a fish from Game of Thrones. The fisherman would sell it to the co-op as one thing; the co-op would sell it to the market as another; the wholesaler would give it another name and the chef would put it on the menu as something altogether sexier, and therefore easier to flog. Some of it was innocent. Some less so.



In that 20 years, there's been a shift as the cultural cringe regarding native species with unmarketable names has evaporated and the price of premium wild fish has steered us to cheaper species.Which in turn has meant formerly working class critters, like the rock flathead (Platycephalus laevigatus) have gone all Pygmalion on us and taken on airs and graces.


But by and large, there's less wool over eyes now, which can be credited in part to the Australian Seafood Handbook - a mammoth achievement of sorting the factual hay from the folklorish chaff, and one that gives seafood people, from fisherman to waiter, little excuse for deception.


Now, another altogether sexier manual is set to continue the Handbook's great work. I don't think it is any exaggeration to say that the Australian Fish & Seafood Cookbook - a poor title because it's so much more than recipes - could be the Cook's Companion of fish.


The driving force behind the book is Sydney seafood marketing consultant John Susman. A wiser, more informed individual would be hard to find. That Susman is also delightfully articulate doesn't hurt.


His book is crammed with wisdom (did you know that if you're lucky enough to be eating "skate" it is almost certainly shovelnose ray, Aptychotrema rostrata), put together with the food ideas of Stephen Hodges (our guest chef, p44), one of the nation's best seafood chefs.


At 1.254kg, the book is possibly the best $63.80 a kilo you'll spend on seafood this year and almost certainly cheaper than Jasus edwardsii (Southern rock lobster).

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At 1.254kg, the book is possibly the best $63.80 a kilo you'll spend on seafood this year and almost certainly cheaper than Jasus edwardsii (Southern rock lobster).

Very big book, might have to take on the weather and head to the bookshops.


Hopefully , I can get it without drowning.



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