QLD spanner crab, green Gazpacho, verjuice jelly, lime crème fraiche, ocean trout roe

Richard Ousby, head chef from Brisbane’s Stokehouse Q and Electrolux Australian Young Chef 2011, shares with us one of the recipes he created.

Recipe
Preparation time: 35 minutes plus setting time
Skills needed: easy skills
Serves: 4

ingredients: crab salad
200g picked and cooked spanner crab meat
1 handful of chopped herbs such as chives, tarragon, chervil, parsley
1 golden or French eshallot finely chopped
3 red radishes, finely sliced

ingredients: verjuice jelly
200mls verjuice
20g sugar
3.5g gelatine sheets

method: verjuice jelly

  • Place the sugar and verjuice in a small pot and warm over low heat
  • Soak the gelatine in cold water to soften
  • Once softened add to warm verjuice
  • Stir in the gelatine until it is completely dissolved
  • Pour into a small container to set in the fridge overnight or until required

ingredients: lime crème fraiche
300g crème fraiche
1 lime zested and juiced

method: lime crème fraiche

  • Zest the lime on the fine part of the grater or use zester
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the crème fraiche and lime zest with a touch of salt, cover then place in fridge until required

ingredients: green gazpacho
600g ripe Tomato
2 green chillies seeds removed
2 kiwi fruit
25g celery heart
20g coriander
20g mint
450g cucumber
50ml EVOO (Extra virgin olive oil)
4 shallots
3 cloves garlic
Sherry vinegar to taste
White pepper to taste
Salt to taste
2 cubes of Ice

method: green gazpacho

  • In a blender, pulse the tomatoes to a pulp
  • Place the pulp into a fine sieve lined with a coffee filter of piece or muslin to ‘hang’ for about 2-3 hours until all the juice has dripped through
  • Gently squeeze any remaining juice out – but not too hard
  • Combine the juice with the remaining ingredients in a blender and puree until nice and smooth but make sure it doesn’t get to warm
  • Push through a fine sieve with a plastic spatula, this will create a very smooth consistency
  • Chill until cold or ready to use

method: to assemble

  • In a bowl mix together the crab, herbs, EVOO and chopped shallots
  • Place ¼ of the mixture in small mound into a shallow bowl
  • Place a small scoop of the lime crème fraiche beside the crab
  • Remove you verjuice jelly from the fridge and cut into small squares and place a small pile onto of the crab
  • Top with trout roe
  • Then pour in your green gazpacho and garnish with some young herbs
  • Repeat with the other four dishes

chefs tips:
1. The jelly can be made either the night before or 4 hours before required
2. The tomato juice can be made the night before and left to ‘hang’ overnight
3. To make a light main course, use the same amount of ingredients but divide into two portions

SHUCKING AWESOME…CAMERON’S OYSTERS OF TASMANIA

Written by Lilani Goonesena

Ben Cameron holds up a big metal pot with a layer of brownish sand at the bottom. We peer at it curiously.

“That’s about 250,000 baby oysters”, he says.

The group is momentarily speechless. It’s understandably a mouthful – or more – to take in.

This is how baby oysters start off in the world. And at least half of all oysters produced in Australia come from Cameron’s Oysters, one of only two commercial hatcheries in Australia.

camerons oysters

Ben Cameron is a 3rd generation oyster farmer and general manager of the company. His grandfather started the company in 1971 and opened the hatchery eight years later. It was a shrewd move. Today the company’s ‘vertical integration’ means they can breed, grow and process oysters in the one company, on a scale unmatched in Australia.

We are lucky enough to see Cameron’s operation for ourselves on the first day of our Electrolux Appetite for Excellence produce tour in Tasmania. It’s a cold, crisp afternoon out at Dunalley, about an hour east of Hobart.

Cameron’s processing plant handles five million oysters a year. Out the back a metal pulley system loudly clanks a circuit around the plant. It was converted from an old iron ore engineering structure to move large units on the farm. It pulls several crates at a time up from the river and into the plant where they are ‘rumbled’, washed and cleaned. This makes it easier for the oysters to feed. The system is operated manually to minimise stress on the animal, before being returned to the water.

These oysters are 18 months old. They are processed for market at two and a half years. They will have been through the rumble and wash process twice during maturation to help harden their shells and fatten the meat.

The fat content dictates its flavour while the food in the oyster’s stomach determines bitterness or earthiness. “Oysters taste like what they eat”, explains Ben, “because you eat the whole animal, including its stomach”.

The flavour is affected by rainfall, the type of algae in the water, and also by region. “NSW oysters grown in freshwater rivers have an earth taste due to mud and sediment, while South Australian oysters are always the saltiest because of the high salt content in the water.”

Given our group is made up of chefs and waiters, hearing Ben talk about the oyster’s flavour and texture was one of the most interesting parts of the afternoon. Lauren Spyrou from the Bistro Guillaume in Melbourne summed it up well: “As I sell oysters on a daily basis in my job, being here at the roots of it all means I’ll able to talk from experience and be more informed with my customers.”

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Cameron’s is known not only for its excellent oysters – and we all agree when we get to sample them freshly shucked – but its innovation as a company.

Unlike most farms where oysters are exposed to high and low tides, Cameron’s oysters are submerged in deep water all the time. “Being under water 24 hours a day means they can feed and grow 24 hours a day,” says Ben. This equates to more oysters, more quickly.

It’s certainly an advantage of farming in the unspoiled Tasmanian waters where there is no nearby agricultural or industry run-off. Cameron’s can market their oysters as being completely natural. “Out here in the wild, there are no inputs and it’s 100 per cent completely organic. Nothing is added to the water; it’s literally whatever Mother Nature chucks in there”, says Ben.

This also means that in lean years, they lose a lot of oysters. “There’s nothing we can or would do about that. Our market is built on being 100 per cent fertiliser- and chemical-free”, Ben explains.

Cameron’s insists on quality over quantity. “We’re very, very, very low density oyster farmers”, says Ben. “Many farms would grow 2-3 million oyster per hectare, here we put that many over 60 hectares”. More intensive farming would mean a compromise on quality.

“That’s why Tasmania has such a great name for oysters”.

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