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Pan-seared kingfish with polenta and roasted vegetables. Photo: Sai Raje.

Class experience

Thursday 18 February 2016

The school’s Catch of the Day class with chef Steve Roberts turned out to be quite the experience, learning about buying and cooking a large variety of New Zealand seafood species, beyond the usual snapper and tarakihi. Roberts began the class with an informative session about buying fresh fish at Auckland Fish Market’s retail area, extracting maximum value from a whole fish, and offered lots of useful tips about cooking each fish species for sale on the day.

The group listened closely as he tackled each variety – yellowtail kingfish smokes beautifully, gurnard has a delicate flavour and is great to cook whole, why crabs are great in broths, porae is a poor man’s snapper, and how most of your unnamed fish ‘n’ chip shop variety would be lemonfish (rig). Roberts was also particular about taking the time to address sustainability concerns around the orange roughy fishery.

“Roughy stocks are really coming up now, it had been off the menu for a while. “It’s an interesting fish you must try now. “Sweet, tender juicy flesh, great steamed or pan fried,” he said. The fish market tutorial was followed by Roberts’ cooking demonstration of two recipes – pan seared kingfish with herbs and cheese polenta and roasted baby vegetables; and crispy skinned gurnard with a spiced lentil salad and sesame miso dressing.

The demonstration done, the group of 25 participants split into smaller groups to cook the recipes for themselves before ending the class over a drink, shared meal and more seafood conversation. Roberts, who has been conducting classes at the seafood school for the last 10 years, says the school hopefully has a part to play in getting more people to taste, cook and be comfortable with a wider variety of seafood. “It’s great when people keep coming back for different classes and ask us what they can do with a frostfish or butterfish.”

Photo: Sai Raje

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