Secrets of a top chef: Cook reveals the tricks to the perfect seafood platter, how to take oysters to the next level and the ONE mistake you’re making with prawns
- Peter Robertson is the Executive Chef of Flying Fish at The Star in Sydney
- He has shares his top tips for mastering different seafood dishes for Christmas
- He says prawns are fine to buy frozen and shared his favourite butter for them
- He also shared his favourite salad dressing and turmeric pickle for oysters
One of the country’s most celebrated seafood chefs has revealed why oysters are best served with a zingy ginger and turmeric pickle and says prawns should be unmarinated when you cook them.
Peter Robertson, the Executive Chef of Flying Fish at Sydney’s The Star, said there is nothing he loves more than a good seafood platter and always makes sure to plan well ahead of Christmas Day.
Here he shares his industry secrets with FEMAIL – from his favourite prawns to the summer salad dressing sure to be a crowd-pleaser at any occasion.
Peter Robertson (pictured), the Executive Chef of Flying Fish at Sydney’s The Star, said there is nothing he loves more than a good seafood platter and always makes sure to plan well ahead of Christmas Day
MASTER THE SEAFOOD PLATTER
‘I’ve come across a number of run of the mill versions in my time (think: a fisherman’s basket from your local fish and chip shop and add oysters),’ Peter said.
‘Given our abundance of incredible seafood here in Australia, a good seafood platter is so easy to make at home, but you need to manage your timing and you need to have some idea on how to store seafood.’
Peter said to keep seafood fresh it’s important to keep it cold, keep it dry and to avoid fresh water.
‘Buy the best quality of your favourite seafoods as close to the time you are going to serve it and you’re on the right track,’ he said, adding that ‘planning is key’.
‘Prep all your accompaniments ahead of time and figure out what components will be served cold and what needs to be cooked at the last minute.
‘For Christmas I think it needs to be a bit special so push the boat out and add lobsters, the export market is still weak so there’s deals to be had this year especially.’
Peter said to then choose your prawns, oysters, favourite sashimi, bugs, crabs or whatever looks good in market and be sure to serve with plenty of finger bowls, a great salad and soft bread.
How to pick the perfect prawns and where is the best place to buy them?
Prawns are one of the only seafood platter items you can safely buy in advance. The vast majority of prawns caught in Australia are frozen within minutes of coming out of the water and they hold their quality really well so don’t be afraid to buy frozen prawns.
I always like to buy Australian where possible as it means that you’re getting a product that is likely of a better quality and from a responsibly managed fishery. I also find that colder waters mean the prawns are a bit sweeter, so I prefer prawns from South Australia (Port Lincoln in particular) but Scarlet and Skull Island prawns from further north are noteworthy exceptions.
Always consider what size of prawn suits how you’re serving it as well. For grilled split prawns, it gets a bit fiddly with anything smaller than a U8 while for shelling U10 is a good size.
Most fish mongers can get their hands on most types of prawns in with a day or so’s notice and with recent COVID events you’ll probably see they’re doing a home delivery service too.
PREPARE THE PERFECT PRAWNS
‘I like to cook prawns unmarinated because the high heat tends to burn marinades especially if there’s oil in it, but this is a great recipe for a butter to keep at room temp and add towards the end of cooking,’ Peter said.
• 1 kg butter (room temp)
• 120g white soy
• 10g minced garlic
• 30g rehydrated wakame seaweed, chopped
• 40g maple syrup
• 5 g chopped chives
• 5g chopped tarragon
Combine all in a kitchen aid or planetary mixer, attach paddle and whip for 5 minutes or until incorporated.
‘I like to cook prawns unmarinated because the high heat tends to burn marinades especially if there’s oil in it, but this is a great recipe for a butter to keep at room temp and add towards the end of cooking,’ Peter said
PICK THE TASTIEST OYSTERS
You really can’t beat a freshly shucked oyster. So Peter says when you’re entertaining, whether you’re an oyster connoisseur or not, being a good oyster shucker is as good of a life skill as being able to open a bottle of wine.
‘If I had to choose one, I’d say Rock Oysters are my favourite for sure. We are lucky enough to have enough producers on the East Coast that at any time of year there’s a rock oyster out there in amazing condition. If you’re unsure about which region is in season, just ask a fishmonger you trust,’ Peter said.
‘We serve ours with a ginger and turmeric pickle, here’s a version that’s quick and easy to do at home.’
‘If I had to choose one, I’d say Rock Oysters are my favourite for sure. We are lucky enough to have enough producers on the East Coast that at any time of year there’s a rock oyster out there in amazing condition,’ Peter said
Ginger and Turmeric Pickle
· 500g rice wine vinegar
· 25g white soy
· 100g palm sugar
· 20g ginger
· 20g turmeric
· 2 scud chilli
Grate the ginger and turmeric on a microplane, slice the chilli then combine the vinegar, palm sugar and soy, bring to a boil and pour over. Chill (overnight ideally).
Flying Fish is known for its spectacular oyster display and they are one of the top-selling dishes.
The majority of guests will start with oysters, they’re shucked to order and always in great condition (between 5-10 days out of the water).
Flying Fish is known for its spectacular oyster display and they are one of the top-selling dishes
SERVE A SENSATIONAL SALAD
‘For me a salad should be nice and crisp, and I like a bit of a mix of crunchy sweet lettuce like cos or butter and slightly bitter greens like radicchio, witlof or watercress,’ Peter said.
‘The salad dressing is crucial as well, this one is not mine but Neil Perry nailed it with his palm sugar vinaigrette, and it should be in everyone’s repertoire.’
Coriander and Red Wine Vinegar Salad Dressing
· 12 coriander root
· 8 tsp of sea salt
· 8 garlic cloves
· 150 red wine vinegar (best quality)
· 540g palm Sugar
· 140g sherry vinegar
· 480g Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Make a paste in the mortar and pestle with coriander root, salt and garlic, add to red wine vinegar.
Make a caramel with palm sugar, deglaze with sherry vinegar, let cool a little and then whisk in red wine vinegar mix.
Whisk olive oil in to the above.
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