Last weekend we had to cater for a double 30th birthday party. I was pleasantly surprised that the hosts both wanted a seafood meal for their guests attending on the Saturday night.
I suggested a paella as it is such a star dish for a large group. With the variety of seafood it not only looks impressive, but very festive! Which is exactly what you want when hosting a party.
Once we had decided on the main dish we discussed the starters. The platters of fresh oysters which I visualized on the patio to be served with some bubbles were absolutely perfect on a clear sunny day with endless ocean views followed by a very crimson sunset. The fresh oyster aperitive was followed by grilled mussels stuffed with anchovy butter/fresh basil and bread crumbs. We also prepared a Spanish dish of grilled egg plant with a tomato and olive oil vinaigrette as a vegetarian option both very suitable starters followed by the paella. The paella cooked with arborio rice and saffron spice was filled with fresh line fish of kob and yellow tail, also tiger prawns, small langoustines and rings of calamari. It was such a pleasure to cook with locally sourced fish, mussels and oysters from Saldanha and the rest of the seafood from our own seafood supplier who is a very hardworking angler himself.
Fresh oysters with champagne chive sauce
Now here is the thing, you don’t need to be a chef to cook sustainable seafood. Gerda’s Table want you to know that there are amazing seafood alternatives that are both sustainable and tasty! Of course here on the West Coast we get real line fish, and by line fish I mean hand caught with a line. Not trawled on the bed of the ocean as they do with kingklip and then have it on the menu as “line fish”. In this case both the kob and yellow tail was caught by one of our local boys. A seasoned angler who goes out every day with his boat and when it is crayfish time we can buy crayfish that has been dived for by the whole family within the permit allowance.
It is very possible to source seafood that is not on the red list and support the sustainability of the food supply as well as assisting in job creation for the local fishermen. We have identified some common seafood favourites that you can cook
i.e. Angelfish; Dorado, Gurnard; Hake; Hottentot or Black bream; Mackerel; Monkfish; Snoek; Yellowtail; Pole-caught Tuna; Rainbow trout and Alaskan Wild salmon
Below we share a recipe with you for cooking fresh fish. We have chosen Angelfish which is fairly easy to source. Served with basmati rice.
Deboned fillet of angelfish baked atop green beans in a flavourful mix of olive oil and garlic with pine nuts, streaky bacon strips and lemon.
4 fillets angelfish
350g green beans, cut the ends off
1 cup rice
2 cloves garlic, peel and finely slice
4 rashers back bacon
2 lemons, slice in half
25g pine nuts
Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200⁰C.
- Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the rice, and boil for 15 minutes, turning the heat down so that it boils gently. Taste to check that the rice is soft. Once cooked, drain and keep warm in a colander over a saucepan of hot water.
- Line the bottom of a baking tray with the beans. Sprinkle with olive oil. Lay the angelfish fillets on top of the beans. Scatter with garlic slices, salt and pepper. Place a rasher of bacon over each fillet, sprinkle with pine nuts and drizzle a little more olive oil over the top. Squeeze the lemon juice over the fish and place the lemons in the tray. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes. Angelfish cooks quickly so check it a few times – it should flake easily when cooked.
- When serving, remember to spoon the juices from the tray over the fish.