calamari, pickled fennel, bouillabaisse sauce and macadamia

George Tomlin, a young chef from Melbourne’s The Town Mouse and the Electrolux Australian Young Chef 2014, shares with us one of the recipes he created.

calamari, pickled fennel, bouillabaisse sauce and macadamia

Preparation time: 45 mins
Cooking time: 1 hour
Skills needed: Average skills with a knife, basic skills with an oven/stove
Serves: 4

ingredients: calamari
2 large calamari wings
50ml canola oil
Sea Salt to taste

method: calamari

  • Using a blunt knife scrape all the outer membrane off then wash the calamari, ideally ask your fishmonger to do this for you
  • Season with the canola oil and a couple of pinches of salt
  • Vacuum pack the seasoned wings and cook in a water bath at 60.C for 20 minutes. You could use a ziplock bag with the air pushed out, and cook using a thermometer in a pot of water on the stove at 60.C. Most slow cookers sit around 60.C so this could be used, but check the temperature first
  • After 20 minutes place the bags of calamari in ice water for at least 1 hour or until it has chilled completely
  • Cut open the bags, remove calamari and drain on paper towels. Using a sharp knife cut lengthways into long ribbons about 2mm thick
  • You can make this the day before and store in an airtight container in the fridge, but it is best served fresh

ingredients: bouillabaisse
2 small snapper carcasses, with heads
1 large fennel bulb roughly chopped
1 onion peeled and roughly chopped
1 whole bulb of garlic cut in half
50g tomato paste
50ml red vermouth
50ml brandy
100ml white wine
2g saffron threads
2 bay leaves, use fresh if you can find them
3 sprigs of thyme
20ml canola oil
1Tbsp toasted fennel seeds
50ml pouring cream
Sea salt

method: bouillabaisse

  • Clean any blood clots, guts and gills from the fish bones, ask your fish monger to do this for you, or ideally use the leftover bones from another dish
  • Preheat your oven to 220.C and place the fish bones in a deep roasting tray and roast at 220.C for 20-30mins flipping the bones half way through. The bones should be dark brown but not burnt. This can be done a day before but it must be stored in a airtight container otherwise your fridge will keep the smell of the bones for a few days
  • In a large pot heat the canola oil, add the fennel, onion and garlic and cook on a medium heat until they are lightly browned
  • Turn the heat to low and add the tomato paste, cook stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes
  • Deglaze the pot with the red vermouth, brandy and white wine
  • Bring to the boil and reduce on a high heat until it has reduced by half, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t burn
  • Place the roasted fish bones in the same pot and cover with cold water so it just covers the fish bones
  • Bring to a boil and skim all the foam that rises to the top off, using a ladle then turn down to a simmer
  • Add the toasted fennel seeds, thyme, bay leaves and the saffron
  • Simmer the sauce for 30 minutes skimming occasionally
  • Strain through a fine sieve, a fine mesh chinois can be bought from any good culinary shop and is invaluable
  • In a clean pot reduce the sauce over a medium to high heat till it starts to thicken and the flavours intensify. You should have about a 300ml yield
  • Remove from heat and whilst still warm using a stick blender blend in the cream and season with salt to taste
  • If not using straight away you can chill store this in the fridge for about 2 days but can be frozen if making a big batch

ingredients: pickled fennel

2 medium sized fennel bulbs
5g fennel seeds
30g castor sugar
100ml brown rice vinegar (this can be found at any good Asian supermarket) or substituted with a good quality champagne vinegar
50ml water
Sea salt

method: pickled fennel

  • In a small sauce pan, gently toast the fennel seeds until they turn slightly brown and become aromatic
  • Add the vinegar, water and water
  • Heat the pickle up to just under a boil and season with the sea salt to taste
  • Let the pickle cool down at room temp, this can be made well in advance and be stored in the fridge
  • To prep the fennel, trim all the fronds off. Top and tail the bulb leaving about 3cm of stem on
  • Cut the bulbs in half from the root to the stem
  • Using a sharp knife or ideally a mandolin cut thin slices across the face of the bulb
  • In a saucepan gently warm the pickle up and strain through that chinois over the sliced fennel
  • Allow to cool at room temp and place in the fridge until ready to use
  • Making big batches of this pickle is great, stored in a pasteurised airtight jar this will last for months and the flavour will develop with age

ingredients: garnish

50g macadamia nuts
2 sprigs of dill

method: garnish

  • Grate the macadamias using a fine grater such as a microplane which can also be found at any good culinary shop or online
  • Pick the dill into small nice tips

method: to plate

  • Pull the fennel and calamari out of the fridge and let it come up to room temp (about 20minutes)
  • Using a small saucepan gently warm the Bouillabaisse
  • Alternate the calamari and pickled fennel along the middle of the plate
  • Spoon the Bouillabaisse over and around the calamari and fennel
  • Spoon the grated macadamia over the dish
  • Arrange the dill tips over everything

chefs tips:
1. Make a big batch of the bouillabase and freeze for future use. This can be used for different dishes such as sauce for other dishes, or the base for a soup stock
2. The pickle liquid can be used to pickle different types of vegetables such as sliced onions or cucumbers sliced into rounds. Let your imagination run wild
3. Or just make a big batch of the fennel pickle and use in salads or an accompaniment to fish dishes, BBQ’d meat during spring/summer

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