Chinese Steamed Fish
During Chinese New Year it is custom to eat a whole steamed fish to have the wish of surplus granted...
4 fresh live Marron
1 head of baby fennel
200g kipfler potatoes
1/4 bunch chives
8 edible flowers, small
5 pine nettles, small and thin.
3 sticks of celery
1/2 brown onion
1 bottle of Semillon wine
2 bay leaves
500mL of chicken stock
25g caster sugar
Vanilla oil :
200mL vegetable oil
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod (retain pod casing)
Peel and cut the carrot, slice the celery and dice the onion.
Place the above vegetables in a hot, medium sized saucepan. Sauté until the items start to brown. Deglaze the saucepan with a splash of wine and remove caramelisation from the saucepan. Add remaining wine, the peppercorns and bay leaves. Add an extra 2.5 litres of water.
Bring it to a simmer, it's now ready.
I recommend that you place the marron in the freezer or an ice bath to go into a dormant state, so you can cook them humanely.
Remove marron from the freezer and carefully add to simmering water.
Cook for approximately 4 minutes once the water is back to a simmer.
Have a fresh ice bath to place the marron into, to stop this delicate meat from over cooking.
Once cooled, break apart the marron, keeping the tail in one piece. Clean them out (deshell) and rinse clean. Snap off claws and set aside for serving.
Keep the poaching stock and reduce it by half to intensify the stock flavour.
Clean the kipflers and cut into cylinders or cubes.
Bring a fry pan to temp and add a small knob of butter. Once it starts to bubble, place the potato directly over it, cook it until it gains a coloured edge, like how a scallop looks.
Carefully turn it over and start to caramelise the other side.
Add just enough chicken stock to come up the side but not cover the caramelised finish showing. Place over a low heat until the potato is just soft. (Do not over cook this.)
Wash and dry herbs and flowers, cut the chives and pine nettles to be about 2.5cm long, pick the watercress and flowers. Keep these items separate to place them individually later.
Clean and wash the walnuts, if possible, slice them but keep them intact.
Add verjuice together with the sugar, heat on low until sugar dissolves. Set aside, off heat.
Slice the baby fennel as thinly as possible. Select pieces about the size of a 20 cent coin. Add them to the poaching liquid. The fennel will now soften.
Heat a saucepan with some salted water. Once boiling add the peas, remove after only a few minutes, and transfer into a cold bath. Drain the peas and season with flaked salt.
Bring the reduction of stock back to simmer.
Add the claws and wait 1 minute, now add the tail and turn off the heat.
After 1-2 minutes (or until heated through) remove the items and place them on a towel to drain. Each tail should be cut into 3 pieces.
Have your potato warm, whether straight from the stock or re-heating, place these on the towel to drain.
Arrange the potato pieces on the plate, trying to keep it different for each plate.
Add the marron tail pieces, and place the claw up and over one of the potatoes to give it height.
Position four pieces of fennel, eight peas, then six of each chive, pine nettle and watercress.
Now add just the flowers, again, keep it different for each plate.
Using a truffle shaver, shave 6-8 slivers over each dish.
Make sure vanilla oil is warm to touch and drizzle it over the dish.
Credits: AGFG Resident Chef Shawn Sheather
Photo Credits: AGFG Resident Chef Shawn Sheather